Drought to be declared
MINISTER: Ralotsia

Crop failure of over 50 percent expected #country’s livestock face decimation

The 2018/19 ploughing season is expected to be declared a drought, as high temperatures cause crop failures across the country.

It is predicted the anticipated drought will impact severely on food security at household level, which is believed will be worse than the previous year.

Addressing a press conference this week, Minister of Agricultural Production and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia explained this means the country will continue to rely on importation of key food commodities to address the deficit – resulting in an increase in the import bill.

For the 2018/19 ploughing season, the Minister estimates the planted area to be considerably lower than the previous season.

“This is because most of the crops planted are stunted and already showing signs of wilting while others have reached permanent wilting which translates to zero harvests,” declared Ralotsia, who gloomily forecast crop failure of over 50 percent across all planted areas.

Because two-thirds of the area ploughed is said to be planted with cereals such as sorghum, maize and millet, followed by cowpeas, groundnuts and others like melons, household income and nutrition are expected to be heavily impacted.

HUNGER LOOMS: Ministry of Agric warns of severe drought

Worryingly, key foodstuff such as maize and sorghum are expected to be hardest hit.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Botswana’s main producers of cereals, Pandamatenga farms and Mosisedi farms have not been spared.

The two major farms have recorded significantly lower hectares planted compared to last year.

In the previous season, 38, 305 hectares were planted in Pandamatenga; this time around only 10, 140 hectares have been planted.

Similarly, Mosisedi farms are experiencing a massive decline in yield. In the last cropping season, Mosisedi had 7, 608 hectares planted, compared to just 1, 925 hectares this season.

The looming drought – attributed to global warming – could potentially decimate the country’s livestock as well.

With a cattle population of 2.1 million, over 1.2 million of goats and thousands of sheep, it is feared the drought could wipe out the livestock sub-sector.

Farmers are therefore urged to sell their cattle to avoid counting losses.

According to the minister, the South Western part of the country is the worst affected having received less than 30mm of rainfall.

Livestock mortalities were reported in Southern Kgalagadi back in February – an ominous sign of the possible disaster that awaits.

Ralotsia warned these are clear indications of severe drought, especially considering the time of year they occured.

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