Batswana farmers who were looking forward to government support to plough their fields are in for a nasty surprise. Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that government has decided to shelf the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development ISPAAD and has not made any budgetary provision for it in the current budgeting period.The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti last week stopped short of admitting that government had decided to suspend the programme, only going as far as saying ISPAAD is not productive and is being reviewed.
The program aimed at increasing food production in the country has been criticised by farmers and the community at large since inception.In an interview on the sidelines of the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board BAMB handover organized by Molapowabojang/Mmathethe constituency on Thursday, Dikoloti revealed that the current ISPAAD program is not working and is being revised. He said the amount of money put in the program to date has not produced satisfying results. ISPAAD has used about half a billion to a billion Pula every year since it started.
“Just from conception, you have to write a letter, then you have to get seeds and fertilizers with your soil not having been tested first to see if the fertilizer you have is compatible with your soil. It has a lot of gaps that we are still trying to close. Most of our people are still using old methods of farming which need to be changed for accuracy purposes and increased production. So, part of what we have been paying for is for those errors that we are now trying to fix so that there is a better output,” he said.
Dikoloti said the number of farmers in the constituency has increased and ploughed land has also increased by over 30%. He said the constituency has one of the best ploughing soils in the country which if used properly for aggregated food produce, they could yield enough to feed the country as well as for export.