Crop management system enhances digitalisation drive

28 Nov 2023

The phasing out of the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) and its subsequent replacement with the newly-launched Temo Letlotlo comes as a blessing to arable agriculture farmers who have been enduring the manual registration process every ploughing season.

For a country that strives to fully embrace the digitalization space in all sectors of the economy, the establishment of a digital Temo Crop Management System (CMS) as one of the vehicles driving Temo Letlotlo aligns with Botswana’s aspirations of using technology towards attaining food security.

Not only does the system enhance efficiency, but also creates a readily accessible database of farmers across the country.

“Our extension officers started using the computerised system mid-September, following their training and capacitation with compatible gadgets and Wifi routers which enable the registration process. In Mabutsane district, a total of nine extension officers have been trained to service farmers in Sese, Sesung, Mokhomma ,Maokane, Sekoma, Keng, Khakhea and Mabutsane,” said the acting district agricultural coordinator, Mr Subere Kapeko in an interview.

Despite the network glitches from time to time, Mr Kapeko indicated that the transition from manual registration to the new system was a welcome development which ensured minimal paperwork. He also appreciated that farmers could register from anywhere in Botswana, provided they had certified copies of identity cards (Omang) and ploughing field certificates.

However, he decried low turn out of farmers for registration.

“We encourage them to register in order for us to have their full information before the ploughing season,” he said.

Describing her experience with the new system, the principal technical officer for Sese North, which covers Machana, Kaduwe and Dithobane catchment areas, Ms Ketshabile Tlhokwane appreciated its efficiency, as compared to the manual registration process. 

“With the old programme, farmers had to come and register manually before ploughing season between January and June, but with this one is a once-off registration, with provision for amendments if the need arises. This ensures all necessary information is safely stored and can be accessed any time,” she explained.

At an average 20 minutes to register one person, the process entails entering the necessary details after which the farmer instantly receives the one-time password (OTP) on their mobile phone, which enables the registration process to proceed. 

However, the verification is done by the respective officer at which the ploughing field is located, upon presentation of the Masimo Keeper ID.

Ms Tlhokwane said her station had registered more than 100 farmers with the new system, a number which she acknowledged was low for the area.

“We registered a total of 2 220 farmers for the 2022/2023 ploughing season and out of that number 1 840 were assisted with coupons for seeds and fertilizers. We do not know what to expect this time, considering the ploughing season is upon us,” she said.

Nonetheless, for the elderly Ms Moroba Moteu of Betesankwe, her first impression of the new system was not pleasant. 

She had been turned down when she did not have a mobile phone to which the OTP was sent, hence had to come for the second time after buying a sim card and borrowing her daughter’s phone.

Ms Moteu added: “For us old people this new system is cumbersome because no one has ever fully explained to us how it works. I am coming here for the second time because I do not own a phone, so I had to buy a sim card and insert it in my daughter’s phone for me to be assisted. I am also told I have to be verified by the officer responsible for our area for me to be fully registered, and this is a long and confusing process for us.”

Just like other online applications, the CMS does not work when the network is down, hence farmers may to be sent back if the system is down. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Kehumile Moekejo

Location : Jwaneng

Event : Interview

Date : 28 Nov 2023