The minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia, has called on farmers to practise dry-land farming as this has proven to be an effective way of water retention. This call comes on the backdrop of an unprecedented El Nino weather phenomenon which devastated crops leaving some 18 million people in the SADC region in need of food aid. Currently, Botswana and some Southern African countries is still reeling from the effects of the drought.
In his address to farmers, Ralotsia also urged Batswana to be prudent and harvest rain as the country is currently facing an unexampled water and electricity crisis. According to the minister, climate change is causing serious problems to the agricultural industry which necessitates the use of climate smart agriculture. He also warned that farmers should desist from depending on rain-fed agriculture.
The government has also in a recent announcement exempted Value Added Tax (VAT) on all items transferred from Livestock Advisory Centres (LAC) to be sold at the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) outlets. “The farming community and members of the public are informed that the government has, with immediate effect, decided to exempt farmers from paying Value Added Tax on all Livestock Advisory Centre items transferred to and sold at Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) outlets countrywide,” said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Boipolelo Khumomatlhare.
Minister Ralotsia also said government will give support as maybe required to cushion the painful effects of the drought until June 30th, 2017. He also added that the current cost reduction period for livestock feed started on July 1st 2016 and will end on December 31st 2016, whereby the government will assess if the situation is improving.