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Parliament accedes to agric. budget proposal

03 Mar 2024

Parliament has acceded to the Ministry of Agriculture’s P3.58 billion budget request amid reservations that it was inadequate to address challenges besieging the sector.

The budget comprises P1.56 billion for recurrent budget and P2.02 billion for development budget. Proposing the budget, Minister Fidelis Molao said the ministry was, among others, in the process of refurbishing the Ramatlabama National Artificial Insemination Laboratory and Training Centre into a centre of excellence.

He said part of the works such as the upgrading of cattle artificial insemination, training centre and other facilities were implemented using the development manager model. He noted that the ministry had engaged Botswana Housing Corporation to refurbish the old laboratory into a small-stock artificial insemination laboratory and embryo production, adding that the project was at roofing level.

Minister Molao also said in an effort to increase the national herd and improve its genetic merit, the ministry was investing in assisted reproduction technologies. 

He said during the 2023/2024 financial year, 13 672 straws of beef semen were purchased from Germany, France and Switzerland and that a consignment of 3 000 Droughtmaster semen straws and 1 000 Wagyu semen straws were expected from Australia at the end of March.

He said the ministry also procured 161 live breeding cattle to be used for semen and embryo production for both local and export markets. 

Mr Molao said his ministry continued to train farmers with the aim of facilitating and improving production, adding that 212 participants had received training on artificial insemination techniques against a target of 180 trainees.

However, the minister said shortage of fodder and quality dairy cows remained a hindrance to increase dairy production. 

He also said the ministry had planned to refurbish the milk pasteurising plants in Serowe and Pitsane to facilitate milk marketing for smallholder dairy farmers. 

He said the intended purpose of the plants was to facilitate milk collection and marketing for small holder dairy farmers.

He noted that government continued to commercialise the traditional livestock sector through the implementation of sectoral cluster strategies such as beef and small-stock clusters, and through the transformation of Lobu small stock farm into a centre of excellence. 

Also, he said, the digitisation of the Lobu small-stock farm continued and smart classroom equipment had been secured in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and was being installed.

He said Impala farm in Francistown was also being upgraded to a replica of Lobu farm in order to supply farmers with improved genetics and upgrading of production skills.

Mr Molao said the ministry, in partnership with National Agricultural Research Development Institute and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, were conducting market-led research that would ensure that the production systems remained sustainable and that the meat products remained relevant in the global space over time.

Mr Molao also said the joint ministerial committee on combating livestock rustling in the Bobirwa District established that 958 farmers who lost cattle through rustling were eligible for the livestock restocking relief programme.

He said the restocking relief programme included cattle, sheep, goat as well as donkeys for all eligible beneficiaries in Bobirwa and that the total cost of the relief programme was P36.4 million.

The minister said government was investing on aquaculture, noting that the industry remained a huge business opportunity for creating wealth and sustainable jobs in the rural economies. 

He said the Mmadinare fish hatchery had been established to provide fingerlings to prospective fish farmers and also acted as a fish farming demonstration and aquaculture research centre. 

He added that his ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, were implementing various aquaculture development projects under the wealth creation programme in Maun, Shakawe, Parakarungu, Oliphant's Drift and Zwenshambe.

On other issues, he said the ministry had closed the ISPAAD programme and was in the process of paying outstanding farmers and stakeholders. 

He said the Temo Letlotlo programme implementation started at a slow pace due to late rains as well as the late launch of the programme. He added that it encountered some teething challenges.

Also, he said a decision had been taken to increase the horticulture impact accelerator subsidy project budget to cater for the projected increase in demand for programme services. 

“This will cover existing packages as well as other components of the agricultural value chain such as production of propagation material and technologies," he said. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Bonang Masolotate

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 03 Mar 2024