Government will not subsidize animal feeds and vaccines for foot and mouth disease prone areas anytime soon. The Ministry of Agriculture introduced drought subsidies on animal feeds and vaccines for cattle farmers following poor rains last year, but will not extend the program to FMD stricken areas. The program came to an end in April as the grazing situation improved following good rains.
When contributing to a motion raised at Ntlo Ya Dikgosi on Thursday, Kgosi Oreagetse Machilidza of Boteti region suggested that the drought subsidy should be extended to FMD stricken areas in Ngamiland and other related places. In response, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Olebile Gaborone said the scheme was initially intended for drought hit areas. He however could not rule out the possibility of the scheme being extended to FMD hit areas. Gaborone added that Government was duty bound to assess the situation and take appropriate measures should the matter be brought to their attention.
He also parried suggestions that Government was keen on introducing the drought subsidies very late in November, as posited by Kgosi Kegaisamang Ramokwena of Maun region. Ramokwena said the scheme should be introduced during winter season when there is actual drought because by the time it would be introduced in November the drought would have subsided because of trickling rains.
“The commission has been assigned to carry out investigations and assessments and report back the situation. It is only when the commission has delivered the report that government could make an informed decision,” said Gaborone in response.
He added that the drought subsidy scheme would remain in place so long as the grazing situation was a concern. Started November 28th 2013, the scheme came to an end April 30th as the grazing situation improved following good rains the past rainy season. Government made a decision to subsidize selected animal feeds and vaccines by 50 percent until the grazing situation has improved. Toto II also asked why livestock feed prices were hiked after the scheme was terminated. In response, Gaborone said the prices were not hiked but were returned to where they were before the subsidy.
Toto II also insisted that the drought situation has not improved and Government should have waited for the next rainy season before taking such a decision to cease the scheme.