Market preparedness vital - Manake

Small stock farmers in the Jwaneng/Mabutsane area have been advised to prepare for the market that government has secured in the Middle East.

Speaking during a two-day tour of farms in the area on Monday and Tuesday, the Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Ms Beauty Manake said  it would be disappointing for farmers to fail to meet the annual minimum of  300 000 animals that the market is anticipated to demand, after all the efforts.

She said such a demand would need farmers to work closely together with other stakeholders such as financiers to boost production.

Ms Manake also indicated that her tour of the area with stakeholders such as CEDA and BITC was to appreciate the farmers’ challenges and needs before formulating any out-grower programmes to complement the existing ones.

She said the tour was also meant to create awareness on the existing market opportunities, both locally and international.

Ms Manake also said her ministry had noted the concern of bush encroachment and would consider how to assist farmers to fend off the challenge. 

She also informed them that government was still contemplating tax exemption on export of live cattle.

On other issues, she said that network connectivity was a challenge at cattle-posts all around the country, and advised farmers to resort to satellite network connectivity in the meantime.

Ms Manake was responding after the chairperson of the Southern District Beef Farmers Association, Mr Tshepo Masire decried poor network connectivity at cattle-posts, which he said made it difficult for their businesses to flourish as they had to market and sell through the internet.

He also called on government to subsidise farmers on chemicals as was done for dry land farmers  to fight bush encroachment. 

Mr Masire also applauded government for opening up borders for live export of domesticated animals as it would help the beef sector, but complained that the effort was negated by the four per cent tax charged at the border.

Mr Masire also applauded government for its efforts to uplift the small stock market, but called for improved roads to cattle posts for easy transportation of animals to the markets.

The chairperson of Maiteko Crop Farmers Association, Mr Mabalane Maboane informed Ms Manake that horticulture farmers in the Jwaneng area were affected by high water bills as they used potable water, which was costly.

He also said because of the nature of property market in Jwaneng, the farmers paid high rent for their leased pieces of land, with such factors making their produce expensive compared to established retailers.

Mr Maboane suggested that government considered helping horticulture farmers with the reticulation of the grey water from the sewerage ponds as was the case at Glen Valley. 

He also said locals were reluctant to work as farm labourers, which led to their harvest-ready crops to be kept for too long in the fields and getting spoilt. 

He, therefore, pleaded with government to open borders so that they could seek farm labour from outside.

The chairperson of Southern Young Farmers Association, Mr Onthusitse Bakoko said youth needed more financial assistance to progress.

He said that youth willing to venture into dry land farming were discriminated against by the Youth Development Fund.

He also pleaded with financiers such as banks to consider special packages for the youth, and that as most youth were inexperienced, a lot of benchmarking, even internationally, was necessary to boost their knowledge.  ENDS

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