Monday, July 4, 2022

Monoga Syndicate: Success story of communal farming transformation

Along the A1 high way, some five kilometres before one reaches the village of Artesia from Gaborone city; on the left hand side of the tarred road, one might spot a 55, 000 gallons reservoir protruding from among the bushes. The first assumption would be that it is for the small village’s water reticulation.

Lo and behold! It is one of the clear signs of substance, which make Monoga syndicate an outstanding success story of transforming a communal farming area. In fact, the reservoir was the first project that motivated the 25-member syndicate to embark on other projects that saw it receiving accolades from even the then Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Khin ÔÇôSandi Lwin, in July 2011. That was during the launch of the projects.

Following the renovation of the reservoir after it was bought, and ultimately erecting it, the syndicate members were convinced that their vision of water reticulation to individual kraals could be accomplished. The reservoir has been paced away from the borehole.
Through innovation, hard work, commitment and teamwork, the syndicate can now boast of improved livestock management.
The syndicate’s Secretary, Dr. Cecil Patrick, revealed in an interview that the syndicate was founded long back in 1954. By then it was just a borehole that was drilled by a group of people and it kept changing with years. He joined the syndicate in 2002. The group welcomed him and, knowing he was an educated man (he is an Engineer), thought he should lead them as a Chairperson.

He declined the offer and, perhaps descended that there was need to write proposals and wide range of correspondence; instead volunteered to be Secretary. His educational background won their ears and this contributed immensely on the area’s transformation. His suggestion that there be a bank account so that funds are well managed was the syndicate’s first breakthrough.

Next he suggested that the committee consist of members whose career matched the position each held. This saw the person knowledgeable in book keeping taking reigns of Treasurer. It paid dividends. Then followed the drawing of constitution, and records keeping and accountability were adopted.
The Head of Department of Agricultural Engineering and Land Planning said of the projects undertaken since he joined the group:

“The syndicate used to pump water into a concrete reservoir which broke apart in 2002. This forced us to purchase two 10,000 litres plastic containers as a temporary solution whilst looking for funds to either construct another concrete or steel reservoir. This capacity was never adequate and the borehole engine used to pump more or less continuously and when the engine broke down there was usually no stored water in reserve. During 2004 the syndicate bought a 55, 000 gallon old railway tank at Malotwana and painstakingly renovated it. We spent around P40, 000 rehabilitating it.”

They spent funds from the syndicate’s coffers to do this. At this juncture their ambitions were perhaps at peak for water reticulation. They approached the Ministry of Agriculture’s Livestock Improvement and Development (LIMID) department for assistance in purchasing of pipes for reticulation once the reservoir was placed high above ground so that gravity powered the flow of water to the kraals. The department was not immediately convinced as officers felt the syndicate’s assets exceeded the qualifying ceiling for such projects. They nevertheless ultimately obliged. Altogether 100 rolls of 100m x 50mm of PVC, covering a distance of ten kilometres to individual kraals was purchased.

The next step was to dig the trenches and fit in the pipes. The reservoir was at that stage still uncovered and birds and other creatures and other forms of impurities could still fall into the tank and pollute water. It was also still prone to rust and needed painting. The learned Secretary remembered there was Global Environment Facility/ Small Grants Programme under the UNDP. He wrote proposals and they funded excavation of the trenches to fit in pipes, tank repair and painting, its roofing, as well as fencing the area around it.

The syndicate further felt there must be an end to uncontrolled movement of cattle from their farming area to the village and free influx of cattle from neighbouring boreholes into their communal area. Their livestock also often died as they freely went into the highway. They therefore agreed that each of them should bring 50 poles so that they build a cordon fence around their farming area to control such movements. GEF/SGP came in with funds for fence.

A ruling was made by the members that for a member to have water connected to the ‘main line’ the member should have purchased a 2,500 or 5,000 litres plastic reservoir and a trough.

All these done, and the communal area becoming a ‘farm’ the syndicate felt there was need for more knowledge, which meant education. A workshop was organized for, and the GEF/SGP with its passion for the environment, popped out some money to ensure the ambitious syndicate reached it goal. With hope that the animals’ population would be reduced at the drinking point (near the borehole), thus allowing for some rehabilitation of the eroded land, the international programme could not delay.
Looking back with delight, Dr Patrick is especially impressed by the fact that they did not employ outside knowledge when they did the most difficult of their projects- the erection of the reservoir. It was difficult to dig trenches but they managed still. There were challenges though, among them lack of cooperation when team work was needed. Their success lied on the fact that the regulations the group adopted at the drawing of the constitution were applied. Firmly!

While he cannot ascertain that the species that might have been destroyed by over stocking that occurred at the vicinity of the bore hole he is sure that management of livestock has improved. The livestock of the majority who have connected to the ‘mainline’ now drink at the kraals. The animals leave the kraals together and their care is improved. It is much easier to confine a bull to its flocks, hence improved breeding is achieved. Everything related to management have been achieved and it is motivation to the very few who have not connected.

He admits that syndicates are difficult to run. They have similar experiences everywhere. What is important is to have two or three core committee members who can stir the whole team into action.
“With us we have agreed that one of our members should be exempted from annual contributions so as to be in charge of the maintenance of the operations of borehole engine,” said Dr Patrick.

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