The National Agricultural Master Plan Arable Agricultural Development (NAMPAAD) has cautioned that crop losses in this country could go up to 100 percent, as farmers lose the war against the spiralling level of weeds in arable farms.
NAMPAAD Director, Molatlhedi Modise, said arable farms around the country could be plagued by severe weeds infestation due to inadequate resources for weeding. Weeds compete with crops for nutrients necessary for plant growth and also reduce the quality of farm produce. Modise said there is shortage of farm labour and the situation is worsened by the slow pace at which farmers adopt innovations for weed control.
Minister of Agriculture, Christian de Graaf, this week confirmed that this year’s crop losses due to weeds are likely to reach 40 percent.
“These figures could in the future increase to 100 percent as farmers are losing the war against weeds. The ultimate would be food insecurity for the country and a high food importation bill,” Modise said. Government is already in the process of shipping 140 metric tonnes of sorghum imported from Australia, following shortage of cereal crops in the country.
Meanwhile, Modise said NAMPAAD has already initiated a program to sensitize farmers about the need to control weeds and the different weed control methods. Dubbed weeding week, the program was launched this week in different farming communities across the country. The week long program, which ended today (Sunday) also sensitized farmers about legislative control of noxious weeds and the general bio-security requirements on farm land. Modise expressed confidence that the program will create awareness on weed control among farming communities.
“There are no figures to quote on the number of farmers who have been reached with the program but farmers around the country, especially where there are Agricultural Demonstrators are expected to benefit from the initiative,” he said.
He said small scale farmers should make sure that they plant areas that could be effectively weeded given issues of scarcity of farm labour and other resources. He said commercial farmers should mechanise their weeding operations and apply herbicides to control weeds.
University Of Botswana Economics Lecture, Dr Gaotlhobogwe Motlaleng, said it is worrisome that government spend millions of pula on assisting farmers to plough fields which are not effectively weeded. The economist said Government should introduce penalties for such farmers as lack of weeding reduce crop yields and render programs like ISPAAD unsustainable.