Monday, March 8, 2021

Small farmers sidelined in purchasing of stock feed

Small scale farmers have cried foul that they are not treated equally like large scale farmers, and often relegated to the sidelines during purchasing of stock feed at Livestock Advisory Centres (LAC’s).

Ramathe Mmoke, a small scale dairy farmer at Diphiring lands to the north of Gabane village, said in an interview that they are unable to compete with large scale farmers who are given first priority and almost always purchase all the available stock feed.

“We are small scale farmers and we can’t compete with the buying power of established commercial farmers,” he said.

He narrated that small scale farmers wake up early in the morning to wait for delivery trucks at LAC and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB). 

“But our efforts to arrive early are in vain because the more established farmers can just pop in any time they want, produce large wads of cash and purchase the whole truck load of stock feed, leaving us smaller farmers with nothing to buy for our stock,” said Mmoke.

He suggested that the purchasing should be rationed to give everyone a chance to buy stock feed for their animals. He however acknowledged government’s efforts in trying to help farmers, as it had reduced prices at BAMB and LAC’s. He further indicated that his efforts to produce stock feed through irrigation proved futile as the borehole he sank had very low water yields. A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) policy brief that reflects on the challenges of attaining a green economy for Botswana indicates that there is a challenge of underutilization of water resources for irrigation. Of the estimated 210,000m3 of waste water generated country-wide, only waste water around Gaborone is used for extensive horticulture. The policy brief further opined that the use of groundwater for irrigation purposes should be reconsidered because of low rainfall, which is estimated to decline even further as a result of climate change.

“A number of aquifers are already being over-harvested just for human consumption,” read the policy brief.

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