Monday, September 28, 2020

LEA running farmers’ training project in Gaborone

The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has formulated new strategies aimed at enhancing food security and employment rate which have dogged the country for quite some time now.

LEA is also mobilising a batch of prospective farmers to impart new technologies earned from off-shore to fill the gap.

A business orientated institution, mandated to provide business planning, training and advisory services to potential Batswana business folks, LEA has brought together 14 prospective farmers from across the country for incubation at a vast farm in Glen Valley.

The first of its kind, the project nurtures and instills new technologies in net-shading, green house and tunnel, methods benchmarked from neighbouring South Africa and from India.

“Net-shading is insects, pests and bacteria proofed as the name suggests but so is green house technology, which, in addition, has a plastic cover and a cooling system,” revealed Barbra Molefi on Thursday in a media tour of the project.

Although expensive to construct and operate, green house is the best practice amongst the three as a farmer could work non-stop without interference from adverse natural weather conditions, such as rain and sunlight.

Powered by electricity, fans inside green houses provide a conducive environment, enabling seedlings to grow faster and healthier.

LEA clients, as these prospective farmers have become to be known, have engaged in tomato plantations under the supervision and eye of LEA personnel although the project is not limited to the crop.

Interestingly, these new techniques do not have to rely on natural soil for root support as the crops grow in plastic covered coca-pit ÔÇôobtained from stems and branches of the coconut tree – without the roots penetrating the ground.

Nutritious water from a nearby reservoir, obtained via irrigation method, makes the practice a fascinating invention as the farmers need not add manure usually obtained from cow-dung.

“We are here to learn these methods for two years up to three years thereafter we will start our own individual businesses,” Molefi added.

Already the participants have acquired land and are certain of adequate water from the respective areas they come from.

“The project requires land and excess water for it to be successful,” added the farmer, 54, from Mochudi.

The farmers are already reaping the dividends of their business venture, launched at the close of year in November and December, and are selling tomatoes to big retailers such as Choppies, MetSef and Pick ‘n’ Pay.

The monies accrued do not only help them pay rentals to LEA as the project does not come free but also pay labourers they have so far employed – a move that proves the project could be sustainable in the long run.

With the farmers already promised sustainable loans from Stanbic commercial bank, Mareledi Obusitse from Serowe, handicapped from vehicle injuries, cannot wait for her own project to take root.
The minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, is expected to officially unveil the project next week Friday.

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