Saturday, November 28, 2020

New ISPAAD could turn the tables for the Agric sector

Farmers – both existing and prospective should gear up for a revamped Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) which will soon be launched.

This is after it emerged this week that the Government will be releasing the much anticipated new ISPAAD guidelines. The new guidelines come at time when Botswana policymakers are also redirecting the energy of the nation towards the agriculture sector – a once backbone of the local economy.

This week it emerged that the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency will under the revised ISPAAD offer finance assistance to horticulture farmers who will be unable to raise their own fifty percent contribution required for their projects once approved.

It has come to light that under the old ISPAAD reforms, applicants who have been applying to be assisted for horticulture projects, they could not afford to raise the required 60 percent share of commitment within 30 days of application approvals. Another challenge that came to light this past week in Parliament, by the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Beauty Manake was that, the applicants have been having difficulties of coming up with business plans as per the requirement, thus under the new reforms the business plans will no longer be required. Manake told Parliament that: “under the new ISPAAD reforms particularly for horticulture farmers, for the 2020/21 financial year, we have come up with a transition plan for the horticulture component where a farmer who would be required to contribute their part of the 50 percent contribution, the government will assist them through CEDA which will compliment the other 50 percent of subsidy from government. Business plans will no longer be required for an already operating horticulture farmer, as long as when the project proves viable when assessed.”

The horticulture package under the ISPAAD programme will be up to P300 000.00  and those with an up to one hectare will be able to access and should operate in a protected environment of shade nets, irrigation and inputs that will last two seasons

As part of the Economic Recovery Plan, the Agriculture Ministry promises to resuscitate horticulture markets in different strategic areas, where there are more horticulture framers who can form clusters.

Since the inception of ISPAAD in 2010, 315 applications have been received for horticulture countrywide and 213 were approved. Currently, 188 are still in production.

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