The beneficiaries in a Makgadikgadi Sustainable Land Management (SLM) at Letlhakane waited for farming equipment before it was finally delivered due to delays in its procurement.
The Director of Birdlife Botswana Dr Kabelo Senyatso attributes the delay partially to the disagreement his institution had with the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR).
“The involved government institutions wanted the farmers to purchase tractors and boom sprayers. A number of equipment that they recommended would ultimately mean farmers relying on government or other people to farm. As a conservationist I do not promote the use of chemicals that are destructive,” Senyatso revealed in an interview.
He said the equipment that he advocated and outlined in the proposal to GEF/UNDP encouraged self reliance which improves people’s lives. Purchasing such a thing as boom sprayer would mean that farmers have to wait for tractor owners to start spraying.
“We want to promote conservation agriculture or smart agriculture and empower people to be able to stand against the bites of climate change and thus alleviate dependence on the government subsidies and thus equally alleviate poverty. That is why we have purchased animal-hauled adjustable planters, ploughs and the hauling animals themselves,” said Senyatso.
He said he was also skeptical about the use of chemicals for the purpose of weeding and pest control. The chemicals currently promoted are strong and destructive as they are multi- purpose chemicals. They thus destroy even organisms that could be useful to the ecosystem in the future.
Chairperson of a Karakatee farmer’s cluster that benefitted from the SLM initiative, Boitshwarelo Masole said in an interview that they wished to be helped with a tractor to rip their 620 hectors’ fields in Mokubilo. She also decried the fact that Birdlife Botswana decided to purchase small sprayers that are going to take a long time to finish dealing with the weeds.
Dr Senyatso’s argument is that Birdlife advocates for sustainable agriculture which does not destroy the useful organisms within the ecosystem.
The farming equipment purchased for the CA are two rippers, 10 donkeys, 40 planters, 5 sprayers, 40 gum boots, 40 respiratory aides and 40 goggles. This project is sponsored to the tune of P2, 198,000; of which P1, 328.000 by GEF/SGP while other undisclosed sources contributed P870, 000. The project runs up to 2017.