Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Landless & hopeless: The story of Letlhabile Trust

MALWELWE: Members of the Letlhabile Development Trust in Malwelwe village, who earlier this year spent a week training at National Food Technology Research Center (NFTRC) in Kanye remain idle as there is no plot of land where the group can show case what they learnt.

The team has been trained on food handling, processing and marketing.

In an interview at the Malwelwe kgotla this week, trio of Elizabeth Phuthegang-Trust Chairperson, Onkgopotse Motshebe- Trust Treasurer and Kebaemetse Phuduhudu (additional member) narrated how trustees applied for a piece of plot measuring more than ten hectors which they would use to keep their wild products ÔÇôMorama (Tylosema esculentum), process them and also accommodate youth and other residents who had plans to venture into business.

“The Letlhakeng Sub Land board kept inviting us for meetings. After the last meeting they told us that we should bring a letter from an investor who pledges to fund whatever project we intend setting up at the plot. Without such a letter we would not get the plot. We tried those who funded our training; being the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), who told us that they would not write such a letter,” explained Phuthegang. She added that they had high hopes about the plot, more so that it is next to one of the boreholes that the government has drilled, which have high yields. This would grant them chance to be more innovative and come up with agro projects that would empower her poverty stricken community, due to unemployment rate.

Motshebe highlighted that the Morama, which is found in abundance in their area has the potential to create employment as there are several by products from it.

“It produces Morama oil, milk and butter. So, having just a machine worth a few thousands Pulas would create employment for more than ten people. That would be better than the present situation where the only known employment is Ipelegeng,” she said.

The trio, whose colleagues could not turn up for the interview due to undisclosed commitments, revealed that the Trust did not have money and that the members came together and contributed few Pulas to transport those delegated to Land board meetings. The Trust members were contemplating approaching the village leadership and the Village Development Committee (VDC) to write the letter, but the leadership has decided to remove them from the office and elect a new board. The trio now feel it is time to go ahead and form an entrepreneurship group which would register as business, use any building for manufacturing the products and employ their fellow villagers.

“We should not allow this land board issue to kill our vision. We should go out and search for funders. NFTRC has promised to support us if we approach them so that they help us with business plans and other business requirements,” said Motshebe.

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