Government dedicates P30m to fight drought

The Ministry of Agriculture(MoA) has announced some relief measures to mitigate the adverse drought effects including subsidies on selected livestock feeds.

The Minister of Agriculture Christian De Graaff revealed that during a press briefing held at the Ministry headquarters Tuesday.

When briefing the media about the success/achievements of his ministry, De Graaff said the government is to spend P30m on subsidies on livestock feeds which will include drought pellets, coarse salt, Botulism vaccine, Di-calcium phosphate, molasses and bran. This drought assistance will allegedly run from November 2014 to April 2015.

De Graaff said the ISPAAD programme has yielded many positive outcomes for farmers.

"Crop production for 2013/14 currently stands at more than 220 thousand metric tonnes(MT) of which more than 125 thousand MT is cereals as compared to a total production of 64, 980 MT and 33,755 MT of cereals for 2012/13," said De Graaff

Horticulture was identified as one of the sub-sectors with great potential for growth by De Graaff. He said they intend to restrict horticulture imports as part of the strategy to grow the industry by facilitating farmers to access the market.

"The completion of the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement presents access for other agricultural products to the market in addition to beef which we have been exporting," said De Graaff

Livestock traceability is one of the areas De Graaff said has improved since they embarked on an intensive campaign to ear tag cattle in the EU beef export catchment area.

The Minister named Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)as the success story of Africa since its only Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia which can access the lucrative market.

"Our zoning system and 40-90 days residence in the feed lots is an Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) regulation which we follow hence our ability to access our ability to access the lucrative

European market," said De Graaff.

Even though Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is still a problem in Botswana, the Minister pointed out that Botswana is enjoying a favorable FMD situation both in the FMD free(green) zones and vaccinated zones except for zone 2, Ngamiland.

"In zone 6, following the successful eradication of FMD, and subsequent reinstatement of the zone as FMD free by the World OIE, restocking of cattle, sheep and goat is complete and the ministry is only remaining with restocking of diary cattle," said De Graaff

De Graaff highlighted long term strategy for the control of FMD, which his ministry has embarked on to further establishment of a protection zone separating the green zones from the Northern FMD prone areas.

Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) was also applauded as it continues to explore new markets for its products so as to sustain itself as well as make profits.

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