Govt intensifies efforts to support farmers

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Having banned the importation of 17 selected vegetables at the start of the year, government are determined to give local farmers every chance of thriving.

To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has introduced a new programme, ‘the Impact Accelerator Subsidy’ to help farmers increase horticulture production.

As it stands, farmers can benefit up to P300, 000 in subsidies from the scheme.

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Govt has already set aside P50 million for the programme, with the amount set to increase due to high demand.

Benefits include borehole equipping, provision of energy, construction of pack houses at the farms to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

According to MOA Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO), Moreri Moesi, they have noticed an increase in the number of farmers showing interest in horticultural production since the veggie ban was introduced.

“The government, through the horticulture subsidy programme is helping farmers to acquire the necessary requisites to improve food security. We sensitive farmers about the existence of the programme, assess whether a farmer qualifies for the subsidy alongside technically ensuring that the projects become sustainable,” he explained.

Meanwhile, although there is still a long way to go, the total production of restricted crops has increased since the ban was enforced.

After some supply challenges, the crops now range between 50 and 70 percent in terms of production against demand.

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When the ban was imposed, potatoes, onion and ginger were standing at 74.9, 55.6 and 0.1 percent respectively while tomatoes stood at 51.2 percent.

Seven months later, the total tonnage production stands at 4, 903 tonnes for potatoes, an 8.5 percent increase.

Onions and ginger are currently at 7, 367 and 0.5 tonnes, registering 62.3 and 0.03 percent increases respectively.

Tomatoes, which are currently out of season, stand at 2, 464.29 tonnes, which represents a decrease of -6.7 percent.

“There is an increase generally in total production of the crops except for tomatoes. This is because tomato is a warm season crop. Given the chilling sensitivity of the crop, we normally do not experience better harvest during cold season because 99 percent of tomato producers do open field production. However, we anticipate that they will pick up during warm weather towards the end of the year. As for ginger, local farmers are just beginning to get into production of it so that’s why there is a slight increase,” noted Moesi.

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