Shame on you Kgatleng land board! Desist from this mechanistic approach of reserving land for a few individuals while Batswana are teetering on the brink of poverty when there is so much unutilized land. One Monday morning, I decided to visit the land tribunal to listen to judgments on land issues. As I was lounging about, the case of MALECO INVESTMENTS (PTY) Ltd versus KGATLENG LANDBOARD no GLT LB0202/2017 in which the appellant is appealing the rejection of an application for an extension of a plot- Integrated Farm at Maphephe area. The particulars of the case are that the appellant wants virgin land to expand an area that he has just partnered with a potential investor with a startup capital in excess of P27 million and projected to employ more than 500 locals, and capacitate them in various agricultural systems. Some land boards make draconian decisions despite that our youth are roaming streets as Government grapples with job creation.
Even the judgement delivered is embarrassing and devoid of substance, atleast from a natural resource management perspective. Botswana is lagging behind in food production, and cannot feed its citizenry yet opportunities of such nature are thrown down the drain. Land, in an economic sense, is defined as the entire material universe outside of people themselves and the products of people. It includes all natural resources, materials, airwaves, as well as the ground. All air, soil, minerals and water is included in the definition of land. Everything that is freely supplied by nature, and not made by man, is categorized as land.
Counsel should be advised that land holds a unique and pivotal position in social, political, environmental and economic theory. Land supports all life and stands at the center of human culture and institutions. All people, at all times, must make use of land. Land has no cost of production. It is nature's gift to mankind, which enables life to continue and prosper. Land's uniqueness stems from its fixed supply and immobility. Land cannot be manufactured or reproduced. Land is required directly or indirectly in the production of all goods and services. Land is our most basic resource and the source of all wealth. Maleco has identified land in the solar power plot nearby. What is even shocking is that nearby there is land owned by one Iranian guy who is not utilizing the land or generating any noticeable activity. So, foreigners just grab land like that and do not use it. Maleco Investments wanted an 80 hectares piece of land to engage in agribusiness, that includes Lucerne production, Fish production and horticultural production as there is also a river nearby. Why does the Landboard award Maleco only 10hectares while the solar power guy occupies more than 413 hectares unutilized. For Christ sake, he is saying lease the area to me for a certain period so that I help Government in the quest to diversify the economy, create jobs and increase food security.
How evil are you land authorities? Re a lo itse lo a be lo beetse ngwana wa ga semangmang. Can’t you see the current President is talking about attracting potential investors to revive our economy that has regressed in the past 10 years? Are you not part of Vision 2036? The said investor says he doesn’t need your money just needs a piece of land to partner with Batswana. There are elements of agro-tourism like sport fishing in the area, to make the Kgatleng district more vibrant. Even your vision talks about land for social development not speculation. Shocking just adjacent to the area separated by Madikwe river, the area in South Africa is green with lucerne production. According to court proceedings the potential investor says instead of locals buying lucerne imported from South Africa for around P170 pula (although they buy it in South Africa for R63) let me do it here as this will improve cattle production and beef we export to EU market. Can’t you see the chain of benefits?
Land board, as to the agricultural sector, poor utilization of land resources has until now resulted in low crop yields, poor livestock offtake rates, low rural household incomes and widespread degradation of soils and rangeland. The proposed business wish to embark on three projects with an 80 by 80 hectares (i) LUCERNE PRODUCTION- Lucerne is a perennial crop with a productive stand life of 5-7 years. It is widely grown as forage for cattle and is often harvested as hay. Lucerne is renowned for its drought tolerance, but at the same time is very responsive to water. Dairy farmers and beef cattle farmers use it to feed their animals on a daily basis to sustain good levels of animal performance Lucerne is not only a valuable animal feed, but also has alternative uses, e.g. as a health food for humans. New advances are being made such that it can be used against allergies, arthritis, pregnancy sickness, stomach ulcers, and bad breath. Lucerne is usually used either as pills, capsules or as a tea. (ii) Horticultural production in Botswana, the supply of horticultural produce to the formal market is mainly controlled by big companies. However, most local farmers involved in horticulture practice peasant farming for consumption and for retail sale in the informal market, local communities and street corners in the cities.
Heela batho ba di landboard Horticultural production has been indicated as a sector that can provide real opportunities for enhancing farm incomes and reducing poverty in developing countries. The diversification of agriculture is considered an important strategy for agricultural development in Botswana and importance of horticulture crops as a means of diversification and creation of employment opportunities is recognized. Public support for improvement of horticultural production has been shown by introduction of farm level financial incentive schemes that included Financial Assistance Policy (FAP) and currently Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). Jaanong lona lo hapaana le goromente. Neelang batho masimo, ba leme mabele as how our country was perceived.
(iii) Fish production. Batho ba di landboard, wee, a strategic goal of NDP9 was “to promote fishing farming in Botswana”, as a successful aquaculture industry would help to diversify the economy; enhance rural livelihoods and protein supply and reduce the country‟s dependence on imported fish. An additional high value tourism activity linked to aquaculture is the stocking of large impoundments with tigerfish for recreational angling. This would support Botswana's policy of promoting tourism on its dams. Remember Tigerfish were successfully introduced into Letsibogo dam in an experiment and has demonstrated that there is a huge economy associated with fishing tourism and a healthy population of tiger fish would attract international anglers and potentially provide the basis for a local tourism industry including lodges, houseboats, guides and services. Fishing based tourism is thus a means of creating jobs, and entrepreneurial and livelihood opportunities for local communities. In summary landbaords should be seen to be helping in the development of the country, and support small business. I implore the minister to reverse such a decision and MALECO investments be given that land that is currently unutilized. The ministry should set up a task team that would see the availability of such a program. Stop corrupt practices, Batswana and investors need land.