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Increase funding for agric. sector - legislators

29 Feb 2024

Members of Parliament across the political divide have called for increased funding for the agricultural sector.

Following a request to approve the Ministry of Agriculture’s P3.6 billion proposed budget presented by minister Fidelis Molao recently, MPs called for more funds for the sector.

Minister Molao requested about P1.6 billion and P2 billion as recurrent and development budget respectively for the 2024/25 financial year.

Supporting the request, MP for Kgalagadi South, Mr Sam Brooks said the sector deserved more funds to enable it to adequately assist Batswana to produce food for the country. He said due to climate change and high temperatures, farmers were destined for a huge disappointment as crops were burnt by high temperatures.

He argued that there would be a need to assist farmers as well as plan for future interventions against unfavourable climatic conditions.

He also expressed disappointment towards the construction of the Tsabong small stock abattoir, saying it should have been completed three years ago.

While Tati West MP, Mr Simon Moabi said agriculture was the backbone of the economy and deserved to be adequately funded.

He said his constituency faced a challenge of cattle crossing into neighbouring Zimbabwe and that there was a need for a fence to control their movement and curb the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

Also, he said the ministry should build a quarantine in the area for cattle which crossed into Zimbabwe so that they could be quarantined, examined and returned to their owners if FMD free as opposed to killing them, noting that they attracted a small compensation of P700. While the MP for Good Hope/Mabule, Mr Eric Molale said the export of live cattle was enhancing the national herd of the receiving countries. He also said exporting cattle was tightly controlled and difficult for other Batswana.

The MP, who is also Minister of Transport and Public Works, said the dispensation was benefitting only a few. On arable agriculture, Mr Molale said most crops were devastated by high temperatures and unreliable rains, adding that the ministry should look into assisting farmers from financing agencies.

Ghanzi South MP, Mr Motsamai Motsamai also supported the budget, although he said it was not enough. He said the Ministry of Agriculture was core to job creation opportunities.

He argued that this year’s drought would be devastating and that government intervention to assist farmers should take into account peculiarities of each region.

Takatokwane MP, Mr Tshoganetso Leuwe also supported the proposal and commended the ministry for heeding the call to decentralise. He said the introduction of the Temo-Letlotlo programme would go a long way in changing the country’s agriculture sector if well implemented.

However, he said the ministry should add borehole drilling to the programme, arguing that it would cater for both crop and livestock production.

Serowe West legislator, Mr Onalepelo Kedikilwe also supported the ministry budget, but called for more funds towards the sector.

He said although he supported improving the national cattle herd, the importation of cattle from the USA should have been given to the private sector, as there were established locals in the industry.

He also urged the ministry to up-skill farmers on seeds they were given to plant under Temo Letlotlo, saying it would improve production. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Bonang Masolotate

Location : GABORONE

Event : parliament

Date : 29 Feb 2024