Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff said preparations for this year’s National Agricultural Show were progressing well despite challenges associated with the relocation to the new show ground in Sebele.
“The ministry has secured an 81 hectare plot in Sebele and we believe it was a wise decision especially that we want to transform into a business,” he said.
He said the space would allow the ministry to grow the show to international standards. One of the attractions to this year’s show would be the horse race which last took place in the 1980s.
The show starts on August 27 and ends on September 1.
On other issues, De Graaf revealed that Government has not yet obtained maximum benefits from the resources spent on the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD).
De Graaff, however, said since the introduction of ISPAAD, food production has tripled and that the government hopes to achieve food security by 2016.
He said ISPAAD was there to stay because it had improved food production although some farmers were not taking advantage of the programme.
“As the government, we have to make sure that all land is utilised,” he said, adding “as I have said before, we cannot feed a nation on idle land.” De Graaff said in order to achieve food security, there was need to provide more land to commercial farmers. During this cropping season, the government has spent over P137 million on more than 108 000 ISPAAD beneficiaries.
The permanent secretary, Dr Micus Chimbombi said the ministry was promoting agro-ecological production for cereal and horticulture under ISPAAD, meaning that a commodity was promoted where it was most suitable. The Assistant Minister, Oreeditse Molebatsi said for ISPAAD to achieve return on investment, there has to be thorough public education. He appealed to farmers to adopt new methods of farming, saying most people still believe in traditional methods of framing. “In today’s methods of farming, if you mix water melons and sorghum, the other one is a weed,” he said.