Findings of a preliminary assessment carried out to determine the relevance of the integrated support programme for arable agriculture development (ISPAAD) have shown that many people believed if appropriately implemented it would help reduce poverty levels drastically.
Of the sampled population, 98 percent expressed the view that the programme must be continued, citing various reasons which the researchers found legitimate.
Dr. John Moreki, Deputy Director, Department of Animal Production in the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), said, “Most of the participants in the study pointed out that continuing ISPAAD would give those farmers who did not utilize the programme a second chance to benefit from Government support, while others indicated that it has improved their lives and so they would have another opportunity at moving to the next level if the programme were allowed to stay on.”
Again, the survey found that there was a 24.5 percent increase in the uptake of the livestock component of the programme and the recipient base for the small stock went up by approximately 12 percent.
The figures, according to the MOA official, formed a reasonable basis even without concluding, to presume that with the widening of the recipient base there was bound to be a visible degree of effect on the lives of their families as well.
Moreki was speaking at a briefing of journalists on the introduction of extra components in the now reviewed phase otherwise known as the second phase of ISPAAD and LIMID respectively, at the Ministry Headquarters on Thursday this past week.
That entailed a horticulture component and water development for farmers owning a specified number of stocks. The guinea fowl project has now been excluded from the reviewed LIMID programme.
When asked about whether there was any systematic effort at measuring the impact of ISPAAD on the lives of the recipient communities, especially with regard to reducing poverty before adding new components, Moreki acknowledged that no such study has yet been conducted.
“But it should be noted that the programme is still at its infancy stage to be able to authoritatively state without figures the extent of its impact,” explained Moreki, adding that only after putting in place a number of enabling processes, would it be possible to effectively monitor and conclusively measure the full scope the programme’s output.
As part of laying the groundwork for proper appraisal and effective monitoring of the utilization of the ISPAAD, it was stated that Government plans to install a computerized networking system that would make it possible to identify people who would have already benefitted.
In that way it would be much easier to avoid counting the same people more than once thus distorting the actual statistics.
However, acknowledgment was made of the fact that partly as a result of the absence of a systematic foolproof method it was observed that there were instances of people in some areas recycling assets especially small stock which would be required as contribution towards the support they were eligible to get from Government.
To deal with these kinds of challenges, more than ever before MOA has decided to link up with the Social and Community Development Officers(S&CD) and the Tribal leadership in the Villages.
S&CD Officers will help with identifying the needy so that they are treated accordingly, whilst the problem of more applicants using the same stock for as their contributed would be minimized by a provision to offer a letter from the chief authenticating ownership of the stock.
As at now at least 57 million pula has been spent on the small stock alone with the bulk of the money used in the North West, followed by the Central District.
Meanwhile, plans are afoot to carry out a comprehensive review of the ISPAAD programme after the next farming season.