Marope blames heavy rain for low production
25 Mar 2021
Botswana is regarded as a semi-arid country due to unreliable rainfall patterns and farmers usually see rain as a benefit to their crops and fields.
But there is an ideal amount of rainfall in any given growing season for crops.
If the average rainfall is lower or higher than the ideal, it can lead to significant problems, from drowned crops to lower yields.
Mr Mogomotsi Marope, a vegetable farmer based in the outskirts of Patayamatebele owns a two-hectare farm that produces cabbages, tomatoes, green peppers and butternut.
He had expected that the abundance of rainfall experienced this past ploughing season would benefit him to produce more yields, little did he know the worst was coming.
Recent torrential rains have hit his farm and left him a man living on borrowed time.
The rains submerged his crops, especially cabbage, which he had planned to sell this month.
The produce will now be sold in the second week of April.
In the other parts of his farm, he could not plant because of the waterlock caused by the rains leaving him with huge chunks of land remaining unploughed.
“I was hard-hit by the recent torrential rains which affected my production,” he said, looking at his farm which he had only planted cabbage, butternuts and green pepper.
The farmer said he could not plant tomatoes because excessive rainfall impacted on the tomato plant.
“Tomatoes are a type of crop that can suffer several problems related to heavy rainfall. Tomatoes and too much rain do not go together.” he added.
Mr Marope said due to heavy rainfalls, there was now a huge demand for vegetables in shops that he usually supplied in Selibe Phikwe and Francistown.
“I sell to chain stores in Francistown and Selibe Phikwe such as Mr Veg, Choppies, Shoprite and Spar supermarket,” he added.
He stressed that heavy torrential rains meant less returns to his business, something that he had never experienced in the past years.
“Heavy rains that started beginning of this year affected me because I had to wait for quite sometime and I started planting at a late stage,” he added.
He said rainfall was good for crops but also bad if it is in excess, adding that it now puts pressure on him as the demand was higher than what he can supply.
Mr Marope is a successful beneficiary of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) which financed him to start the business.
He explained that commercial vegetable farming played a major role in the economy of Botswana and it was the reason why he chose it.
“Vegetable crops are efficient to generate cash from a small field like mine and helps grow the economy and reduce poverty because the value of vegetable production surpasses the value of cereal production,” he explained.
However, despite the issue of heavy rainfall this year, there were other teasing problem that he continued to encounter in carrying his business.
He said he depended on the nearby Tati River, which is his main source of water for the farm, but pollution caused by sewage water from water treatment plant was of great concern.
“The sewage water contains more salts and harmful substances that are not good for vegetable plants and if these crops die, it is a huge loss for me,” he added. He said fertilizers he used required use of clean water.
He said having less resources to test the quality of water from the river was another uphill battle for his farm because he had since discovered that there were some people who polluted the river with chemicals.
Mr Marope has also diversified his business by rearing pigs and ducks. “Initially, I introduced pigs to eat the spoils from the fields such as cabbage leaves, but I have since abandoned the idea and its now a business,” he disclosed. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Goitseone Kgakge
Location : PATAYAMATEBELE
Event : Interview
Date : 25 Mar 2021