Sunday, September 27, 2020

Government working on agricultural insurance

Government is mulling a collective contributory agricultural insurance scheme designed to assist subsistence farmers afflicted by natural disasters.
The agricultural insurance scheme aimed at the disadvantaged subsistence farmers was first debated in parliament this week.

The issue of insurance scheme was raised by MP for Chobe, Duncan Mlazie, whose constituents– who utilised the Integrated Support Agriculture Programme (ISAAP) — were badly affected by floods in the recent past ploughing season.

The floods saw a number of farmers losing their crop production for the year.

The previous ploughing season saw quite a number of subsistence farmers in the Chobe enclave, east and west, were exceptionally affected by floods leaving in its wake major losses in crop production and nothing to put on the table.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Shaw Kgathi, told parliament on Friday that a considerable number of farmers in the Chobe enclave who utilized the ISAAP were grossly affected by a natural disaster in the form of floods early in the year.

However, since there is no insurance scheme, farmers who lost their production as a result of natural disaster would not be compensated, but government is working around the clock to come up with some sort of insurance scheme.

The ministry “is developing a contributory agricultural insurance scheme that will in future address losses incurred by farmers through natural disasters”.

Through a parliamentary question, Mlazie wanted to know the measures in place to assist the demoralized farmers.
In yet another development, solicited by the same MP and still targeting the agricultural sector, parliament was informed the government entered into a memorandum of agreement on 9th May 2007 with TAHAL for the development of the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Development Project.

“Following this agreement, my ministry entered into a contract for Field Investigations, Revised Business Plan and Engineering Design Services on 26th February 2008. These investigations have been completed and TAHAL has started the detailed designs, which are scheduled for completion in April 2010,” explained Kgathi.

He added, “Regarding the progress on the water rights with other riparian member states, Botswana has made significant progress. Following the approval of the Zambezi River basin Environment Impact Assessment report by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Botswana officially sent a letter of notification to riparian member states on 19th June 2009 to extract 495 million cubic meters per annum. A full package, which included the Zambezi River basin EIA, was handed to all member states on the 7th July 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique, for consideration.”

To date all field investigations, which include topographic surveys, geotechnical studies, hydro-geological studies, hydrological studies and soil surveys have been submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs for consideration.

“Provided the project is approved, construction of infrastructure for both the conveyance system and the agro-commercial project are expected to start on completion of the designs and are scheduled to be completed in 2014. Farming is, therefore, expected to start after completion of these infrastructures,” Kgathi further explained.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.