• Forecast yield declines drastically
• Govt pays 85% of the 2014/15 seasonal loans to farmers
• MoA provides 25% subsidy to farmers' feed
• Malnutrition persist in some areas
President Ian Khama has declared that the whole country is drought stricken and announced a raft of relief measures and actions for the period 1st July 2015 to 30th June 2016, Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Halakangwa Mbulai announced late Friday.
The declaration follows the release of findings of an assessment on the Drought and Household Food Security Outlook conducted from the 23rd March to 10th April 2015, which indicate that there was a significant decline in the rainfall distribution. This was coupled with scorching heat wave resulting in low hectorage ploughed/planted. The yield forecast for 2014/15 has drastically declined with the national estimated production for cereals standing at 7 382 metric tons (mt) which is 3% of the national cereal requirement of 300 000mt.
The assessment also found that available grazing and water will not sustain livestock until the next rainy season as a result of the poor rainfall received and dry spell experienced. Compared to the year 2013/14 it was found that wildlife, rangeland and water conditions have also declined. Water levels were observed to be relatively low in catchment areas for the Okavango, Chobe-Zambezi, Ngotwane, and Limpopo rivers, as compared to the year 2013/2014. This has resulted in reduced inflows into the dams and recharge into well-fields. Although most districts received normal to below normal rainfall, there is abundance of biomass produced in the year 2013/14. Therefore, high number of fire outbreaks is anticipated. "Overall, nutrition status of children aged 0 - 59 months is improving across the health districts. However, malnutrition levels in some areas are still higher than the 3% national target for total malnutrition," read the report.
To mitigate the effects of the drought government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, pays 85% of the 2014/15 seasonal loans to farmers eligible under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) who secured their loans through Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and National Development Bank (NDB). Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, also provides a 25% subsidy to farmers on the following items purchased through the Livestock Advisory Centres (LACs) and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board for; * 50 Kg Di-Calcium Phosphate; * 50 Kg Drought Pellets;* 30 Kg Bran;* 50 Kg Coarse salt; * 30 kg Lucerne/ Lab Lab/ Maize / Sorghum stalk bales; * 50 kg Dairy Meal.
Government, through the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, will provide funds for emergency water supply projects to augment the human current water supply situation.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) will utilize funds available from its current budget for construction and maintenance of firebreaks in Kgalagadi, Ghanzi, Kweneng, Ngamiland and Central Districts as well as, maintenance of fences at Dithopo Game Ranch, Kalahari Trans Frontier Park, Khutse Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi and Tuli Backline and further that the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning and Environment, Wildlife and Tourism avail funds for procurement of trucks to be used in veldt fire management and control.
Khama has further instructed that government, through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should provide a Second Meal at primary schools in RAD Settlements and in the Okavango; and provide double food ration for Vulnerable Groups (Under 5, 5-6 Years, TB Outpatients, Lactating and Expectant mothers) countrywide.
Through the Ministry of Health (MoH), government will provide direct feeding to children (0-59 months) who are moderately malnourished and continue to provide ready to use therapeutic foods for severely malnourished children. MoH will also step up nutritional surveillance, including monthly review of the nutritional situational situation to, amongst others, determine the need or otherwise for further government intervention.