Over 74 horticulture farmers in the Tonota-Molapo farms have been forced to plough down most of their cabbage crop after the market experienced a glut of the fresh produce.
Many of the farmers who own between two to six hectares, are counting their losess into thousands of pula and are struggling to meet their financial obligations to their financers.
“Our main challenge is finding a market for our vegetables because Francistown is too small to absorb or buy all our produce.
This is because most of us tend to grow the same vegetable in a particular season, such that it becomes difficult to sell the vegetables,” said Micky Matenge.
“For instance I planted close to three hectares of cabbage, each hectare has about 10 000 heads of cabbage.
And because many of us had planted cabbage, I’m stuck with it, because I have no one to sell it to,” lamented the farmer, who ventured into horticulture two years ago.
Matenge estimates her losses to P160 000. “The market floods easily.
My appeal is for government to allow us to penetrate markets as far as Gaborone and across our borders.
Maybe even set up a horticulture market that will be government operated.”
Matenge is however optimistic that horticulture could still be a money spinning business as long as government helps iron out the challenges that the farmers are facing.
came into, to iron out the challenges these farmers were facing. “Another factor crippling our business, is that retail chain supermarkets do not buy from us.
Instead some of them have their own farms and grow their fresh produce.
Furthermore, because we are emerging farmers, we find ourselves competing with bigger farms, who enjoy economies of scale and offer cheaper prices to these major supermarkets”, says the Tonota Molapo farmer.
Another farmer Clement Jorosi who owns a farm along the Shashe river, shared the same sentiments with Matenge.
I had to plough down a fifth of a hectare that had planted cabbages. Because no one was buying nor did I have anyone to sell it.
The situation was so desperate That, I had to exchange a truck load of cabbage for a couple of tones of manure. It’s not easy to get money,” said the retired educationist.
From his harvest of cabbage, Jorosi expected to raked in between P16 000 and P17 00 had things gone well.
“Although I did not manage to break even, but from the few heads I sold I made a paltry P12 000,” he highlighted.
Despite facing such disheartening impediments, Jorosi admitted to have not approached relevant government authorities for assistance.
“Personally or as an association we have not sought the intervention of government. At the moment I would rather on say much on that one”, ended Jorosi, who is based in Mathangwane.
Regardless of the challenges horticulture farmers in the periperhy of Francistown pride themselves in being the main food basket for the second city of the country.
“We are determined to feed this country, and are willing to go to greater heights to ensure this country has sustainable and secure food supplies,” said Matenge confidently, during the World food day commemoration held in Tonota recently.