The National Development Bank, a finance institution owned by the Botswana government, has only managed to collect a fraction of money they lent to farmers in Ngamiland and Okavango under the Foot and Mouth Relief Fund, which was set up in 2008.
NDB Marketing Manager, Karabo Musa, confirmed the fears in a response to Sunday Standard enquiries.
“We have so far only managed to collect P3, 8 million of the P105 million the bank has lent to Ngamiland and Okavango farmers under the government ‘s Foot and Mouth Relief Fund which has, however, benefitted 5721 farmers,” he said.
Asked why they have only been able to collect such a small amount of the owed total, Musa said that the problem had been the continuous outbreaks of foot and mouth in the two areas and the closure of the Maun abattoir, which resulted in farmers not being able to sell their cattle.
She said that the abattoir was only opened for a brief period at the end of 2010 then closed shop again in March 2011 until October 2011.
Besides the abattoir’s closure, she explained that there has also been the problem of the capacity of the abattoir, which saw farmers being given small quotas of ten cattle which made the amount collected very low.
Asked if they have not been able to collect money from the around 6,500 cattle which are reported to have been exported to Zimbabwe and Angola recently, Musa said that they have also not been able to do that as they are still installing database that will enable them to collect money they are owed by farmers direct from the Botswana Meat Commission.
She could not say why they had not installed the database earlier.
The NDB Marketing Manager said that she was hopeful that, with the opening abroad of new markets for Okavango and Ngamiland farmers, more farmers will be able to sell their cattle and they will be able to recover the money they have lent them.
The scheme was a great relief to Ngamiland and Okavango farmers who had before then made numerous complaints to the government that they were highly indebted because they were not able to sell their cattle because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.