Drought assessment exercise on-going

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Government is aware of low yield production due to the shortage of rainfall during this ploughing season.

When addressing kgotla meetings at Leshibitse and Artesia in Kgatleng District on Thursday (April 9), President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama said a drought assessment exercise was being carried out to assess the situation. The assessment would ascertain the type of assistance to be accorded Batswana.

The President was responding to residents who decried low yields due to lack of rainfall even though government had assisted farmers to plough through the ISPAAD programme.

He said the drought assessment team was conducting the assessment exercise in Francistown and they would complete their work and submit results, which will help government respond accordingly.

President Khama also pleaded with the residents not to kill the wild animals as they played an important role in the tourism industry that contributed significantly to the economy of the country.

He said he was aware that Bakgatla were constructing Matshabe Game Park, which could be used to keep the animals safe. Lt Gen. Khama said government could help facilitate the translocation through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The residents had complained about wild animals that destroyed their crops especially baboons and elands, which worsened their production to the lowest.

When welcoming President Khama and his entourage in Leshibitse, Kgosi Segale Linchwe said the drought situation had forced wild animals to seek water and pasture close to the village where most fields were situated.

One resident of Leshibitse, Mr Lebotsang Molefe complained of baboons destroying his crops to which President Khama advised that people should be employed through the Ipelegeng programme to help chase the animals away.

At Artesia, village development committee chairperson, Ms Thandie Roberts complained of shortage of transport in their village. She said government departments were not able to service Batswana on time due to shortage of vehicles.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Slumber Tsogwane, said he was aware of shortage of transport,which was fuelled by slow maintenance of vehicles.

He said although government had privatised maintenance of vehicles to speed up their servicing, private garages charged high prices. He told residents of the two villages that his ministry was planning to purchase some vehicles this financial year after securing funds.

Kgatleng District wildlife officer, Mr Maika Maika stated that they were aware of the animals destroying farmers’ crops, adding that they were doing all they could to safeguard against the destruction.

He said they were working in collaboration with farmers to make sure that the situation was brought under control, adding that if the population of the wild animals could be above the allowed number, animals would be be trans-located to other areas to avoid being over populated.

Meanwhile, President Khama donated 30 chairs each to Leshibitse and Artesia kgotlas, blankets and football kits to be distributed among the people. ENDS