Monday, July 4, 2022

Worst drought to hit Botswana

Botswana is expected to see the worst drought ever that the country has ever experienced in recent years and expectations are that President Ian Khama will soon declare the country drought-stricken, sources within the government enclave have revealed.

It is understood that the government is on high alert and is monitoring the situation closely after it was discovered that there could be an almost total crop failure throughout the country. Sources say it has emerged that the ploughing season was characterised by below normal rainfall, long dry spells and high temperatures, which have had adverse impact on agricultural production, range-land and surface water catchment throughout the country.

Information reaching Sunday Standard indicates that rain was also poorly distributed in terms of planting circles, leading to less land ploughed and widespread crop failure.

There have been, sources say, no improved opportunities for adequate water availability for people, livestock and wildlife, countrywide and there also was increased livestock mortalities in the North West and Bobirwa areas.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson, Jeffrey Pheko, said they have observed that the Southern part of the country was one of the most affected areas.

“We have been made aware that there is crop failure in that region of the country this year. ┬áMy advice to farmers is that if they notice that the crops have wilted they should cut them down to feed their cattle,” he said.

Pheko also said Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was to blame for drought in Bobirwa and Ngamiland areas, saying there was overstocking of animals because the farmers had nowhere to sell their cattle.

“After government assessed the condition, the Ministry of Agriculture went there to assist famers with more tractors for cultivation and there was also subsidies for cattle feed. You should also note that every season the government undertakes a drought assessment,” he said.

The Ministry of Local Government decided not to respond to Sunday Standard queries and rushed to issue a press release despite this publication’s concerted efforts to convince the Director of Rural Development, a certain Radebe, to respond to the questionnaire. ┬á

┬áThe press release, signed by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, states that every year, Government undertakes a drought (food and agricultural) assessment tour of the country.

┬áThe assessment is conducted by a Task Team made up of two groups, one covering districts on the western and the other the eastern parts of the country. This year’s tour will be conducted from the 15th April to 9th May 2013.??The release states that Task Team’s assignment is to establish deficiencies in the season’s rainfall and its extent. Deficiencies in rainfall normally encompass (i) the spatial and temporal distribution (i.e. spread over space and time), and (ii) the cumulative amounts received over the season;?The team will also establish the impact of the rainfall amounts and distribution specifically on plant growth and water sources as well as on rural incomes and human livelihoods. The Team will seek to verify whether or not the distribution of rainfall has, or is likely to, severely affect plant growth, water supplies, and ultimately human livelihoods and food security in general.?It will also assess the current levels of human vulnerability and signs of stress and the possible effects of their interaction with the observed impacts of the rainfall levels; the nutritional status of the under-fives is reviewed using information generated by the ongoing nutritional surveillance system;?The task team will also review the current situation with regard to destitution and social welfare issues so as to detect the current and emerging trends in the number and distribution of destitute persons;?The statement also states that the task team will review the implementation of the on-going feeding and Ipelegeng programmes and “at the end of the assessment tour, determine whether the year 2013 is a drought year or not and come up with recommendations to Government on the need or otherwise for targeted interventions appropriate for the prevailing situation”.

District Authorities, private and Non-Governmental Organisations, farmers and the general public are asked to assist and cooperate with the Task Team in conducting the assessment exercise. ?The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board had not responded to Sunday Standard questionnaire at the time of going to press.

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