The Member Parliament for Kweneng South East, Mmoloki Raletobana, this past Wednesday advised Kweneng South extension area farmers to stand on their own and organize hauling machinery as the government tractors are not and will never be sufficient for all their allocated places of operations.
He said this while giving a key note address during the occasion of horticultural exhibitions in Gabane Village.
“The government tractors cannot be relied upon. First of all their terms of operation are awkward as they operate during office hours. This is not field time as the soil humidity might all evaporate before they cover even a few ploughing fields. Their planters are also wider than most of the access roads into ploughing fields we have in our area,” explained Mmoloki, who said he wondered what the government officials who purchased the equipment had on their minds when they bought such planters.
A tractor owner himself, Raletobana also quizzed the reason of P150 per hector allocated for usage of planter. He said planter is labour intensive as there is need for two assistants at both turning points of the ploughing field to monitor its planting process.
“Now then, what can one do with P150? What was the criterion used in allocating these funds. I mean, you cannot even satisfy Chibuku drinkers with that amount if you were to pay them in kind; working on five-hector fields.”
He further advised small farmers associations (committees) and the district agricultural officers to mobilize for the evaluation of the LIMID program. His own observation, he said, showed that the 150 hectors farmers are encouraged to adopt by combining fields so that they can be aided with fencing material is difficult, if not impossible.
“I know of many people in our region who have told me point blank that they have never lived peacefully with neighbours. The plague of this hatred dated from as far back as the great, great grandparents. The current generations inherited it all…” he said to murmurs of agreement from his audience. “Sometimes, when you are looking forward to sealing a cooperation deal with your neighbour, you get a shock of life as suddenly a flat erects from their field, indicating that there has been change of ownership. The field has been sold.”
With all these known to them, Raletobane said, there was need for advocacy to the effect that the government should revisit its position and just supply fencing materials to individual farmers. To this, farmers clapped their hands and ululated to show appreciation of his words.
Then he advised them to debunk their fields of trees’ remnants. He informed them that though the government pays P400 per hector for ploughing, this is nothing as compared to the expenditure incurred by the tractor’s owners.
“To repair a tractor’s big hind wheel once it has been pierced by whatever piece of wood or anything costs up to P5000. I do not want to say anything about mechanical repair of any tractor. Those are much higher. That is a lot of money. That is why you have to thoroughly weed your fields. Even the sylodondactalon should be removed. A lot of fields have this weed and it is difficult to plough on a field with this weed. The tractor’s fuel consumption rises when it ploughs in such fields,” said Raletobana.