Thursday, January 21, 2021

Government privatising farms due to management failure

Government is in the process of leasing to the private sector the Glen Valley and high technology Dikabea farms, following National Master Plan Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD) failure to profitably run the plantations as commercial farming sites.

NAMPAAD, one of MoA hubs which has been using the farms as commercial horticultural and training sites, has confirmed that government is working with the Public Enterprise Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) to have the two plantations leased to the private sector.

The Director of the hub, Modise Molatlhegi, said the decision to privatize the farms came after realizing that it is difficult and costly to have the commercial production operating under government system. Though he could not immediately provide figures during press time, the Director said government is, on an annual basis, losing millions of pula in running the commercial farms, which have never generated profits since their operation in 2002.

Modise said due to government procurement and purchasing of materials and chemicals which takes time, “NAMPAADD cannot effectively handle maintenance of the farm technologies and timely respond to outbreak of crop diseases and pests in the farms.

“This is not compatible with the operations of the commercial farms,” he said, adding that difficulties in handling the farms are worsened by the fact that materials and personnel used in the maintenance of the farms are only found in Israel.

PEEPA Communications Manager, Montlenyane Baaitse, said their organization support the government position of transferring to the private sector, the management of production and training farm in Glen Valley and Dikabea “because this is in line with privatization policy which emphasizes the important role that the private sector plays in the economy”.

She indicated that the privatization of the farms is one amongst many privatisation projects so far approved by government “after the realisation that the private sector is better equipped to commercially run them, in terms of experience and knowledge.”

The NAMPAADD Director has indicated that government preferably wants to lease the farm to citizen-owned private entities and the privatization process, which includes assessing various models and recommending the most viable for the projects, should be complete in 3 months’ time.

The 60-hactres Dikabea farm, with green house technology, is located 20 km north of Palapye while Glen Valley is located in Sebele, which 12 km north of Gaborone. Both farms are electrified and have irrigation. Government has already leased Sunny Side farm in Lobatse due to the same reasons and is looking forward to have Ramatlabama privatized as NAMPAAD is also struggling to manage it.

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