Ngamiland farmers owe the National Development Bank millions of pula, which they borrowed from government through the Foot and Mouth Relief Fund.
This was disclosed by Harry Mark, Head of Communications and Branding of the National Development Bank, when answering a questionnaire on the issue.
He said that as of now, from the total of P105 million that they borrowed, they have only managed to collect P13, 9 million from them. On the challenges the scheme is facing, he explained that the main challenge is the recurrence of foot and mouth disease in the district which has made it difficult for farmers to sell their cattle.
He said this has left farmers with a loss of value for their livestock due to high maintenance costs of looking after their livestock.
Further to that, he said that there is also a problem of inadequate market for the cattle and slow progress in finding alternative markets outside BMC for their cattle.
On what they are doing about the above mentioned challenges, he said that they are advising farmers to look for alternative markets outside BMC for their cattle to sell their cattle and service their debts and to pay their debts from other sources other than from selling their cattle.
Mark also said that they are engaging other stakeholders such as farmers’ associations and the Ministry of Agriculture on the issue.
The scheme was set up with the intention of giving farmers in the district financial assistance of P1, 500 whilst they pledge a beast as security. Each farmer was allowed to pledge up to 30 head of cattle and the loan had zero percent interest.
Currently, farmers in Ngamiland want the debt to be cancelled after a devastating drought in the country last year which left thousands of their cattle dead.
A farmers’ association in the District is even planning to pay President Ian Khama a visit and present their case.