Farmers have been left in the lurch following the suspension of the individual fencing component of the Intergraded Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) by the Minstry of Agriculture (MoA) last month. The farmers will now have to wait for a little longer to be assisted as the ministry is not accepting any application.
An field demonstrator in Kotolaname lands said they learned about the suspension of the fencing component through a savingram from the ministry of agriculture in last month (January 2015). Information reaching The Patriot on Sunday is that the suspension comes about because of the exhaustion of funds for the individual fencing component. MoA spokesperson Boikhutso Rabasha explained that cluster fencing has not been suspended but only the individual fencing component because of the high number of farmers who applied for the service.
According to Rabasha the applications for individual fencing have been halted to allow for the clearance of the already approved applications as the ministry is winding up for the new financial year. “Receipt and processing of new applications for individual fencing will start at the beginning of the 2015/16 financial year,” Rabasha said.
She was quick to squash rumours that the ISPAAD funds have been exhausted hence the suspension. Rabasha said although individual fencing consumed a lot of money, ISPAAD funds have not been exhausted. She however pointed that budgeting for ISPAAD will always remain a problem as it is difficult to know the number of farmers who would respond to any particular component.
Statistics from the MoA indicates that from the 2013/14 period to date a total of P85, 619, 403 has been used for 6 164 individual farmers. Seventeen clusters covering an area of 32,757ha have been completed at the cost of P14, 555, 955 while 15 clusters are still at different stages of construction.
Rabasha highlighted despite the efforts by the ministry to fence the fields some farmers continue to underutilise the fields. She called on farmers to at least lease part of the fields they are not using to those who want to use it to avoid consequences. According to ISPAAD guidelines in the event that an individual does not undertake production activities, the materials provided revert to Government.
The other concern Rabasha raised is that in some areas there are reports that the fences are vandalised. “The ministry is aware of temptation by farmers to graze their animals in clusters especially where there is shortage of grazing land,” said Rabasha.
Deputy chairman of Khuduiteke, a farmers' syndicate in Kweneng South -Kekaetswe Mokwapa was shocked to learn last week that government has suspended assisting farmers with fencing material as he was planning to submit an application. He said farmers in the area were not aware of the suspension.