Africa-Press – Botswana. Government has taken steps to mitigate the effects of drought across the country.

The acting President, Mr Slumber Tsogwane, told a Rural Development Council (RDC) meeting in Gaborone yesterday that government’s intervention came about after President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi declared 2022/2023 as a severe arable agriculture drought year.

“Farmers have harvested basically nothing. As a result, households are more vulnerable. Above everything, staple foods such as sorghum and beans have become scarce and pricey,” he said.

One of the relief measures, Mr Tsogwane added, was the decision to increase Ipelegeng quota by 10 000 slots.

In a bid to assist farmers, government has also introduced the Impact Accelerator Subsidy to cover irrigation.

“This is done through borehole equipping and water reticulation in commercial production clusters and this is a new development that we should embrace,” said Mr Tsogwane, who also RDC chairperson.

Mr Tsogwane also touched on the Department of Meteorological Services’ 2023/24 rainfall forecast, which would be characterised by below normal rainfall in most parts of the country.

This, he said, posed a threat hence he encouraged farmers to plant drought tolerant crops.

Mr Tsogwane raised concern about outbreak of veld fires that he said impacted on the agricultural sector and infrastructure.

For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Fidelis Molao said veld fires would contribute to the human-wildlife conflict as animals would be forced to leave their habitats in search of food.

He appealed to members of the public to help in extinguishing the fires.

Mr Molao said his ministry would soon advertise small stock farms, therefore he encouraged women and youth to apply.

The minister also urged Batswana to take advantage of the subsidised artificial insemination training and others offered by the government in the agriculture sector.

He added that CEDA had a financial assistance arrangement for those trained and willing to pursue artificial insemination as a business.

The RDC is a high level coordinating structure that provides policy and operational direction and coordination of all rural development activities aimed at improving livelihoods.

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