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NO RAIN, NO LIFE…

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DETERMINED TO WIN: Meswele

Despite the trials and tribulations facing farmers due to the unpredictable weather conditions, Penepene Meswele says he will never give up farming.

The 70-year-old retired Electrician who resides in Mochudi and farms in Marokolwane believes arable farming is a worthwhile economic activity in spite of the challenges it offers.

A recipient of the Presidential Certifi cate of Honour on 30 September 2003, Meswele is adamant that one day their prayers for rain will be answered and once again they will reap what they sow

Speaking to AgriVoice, the granddad of 15, who worked as a gardener and miner in the then apartheid South Africa before returning home to work for the government, rising from general helper to certified electrician said: “Farming is more rewarding than full time employment.

“Full time employment means a regular salary but in the long term farming is more rewarding.

“A farmer has time to attend to other matters such as social gatherings which otherwise he would miss if he had a full time job”, he said.

Granddad Meswele who quit the civil service in the early millenium decided to concentrate on farming went on to say that regardless of the challenges such as unreliable rainfall and losing crops to animals such as cattle, goats and kudus he is committed to till the land to make a living for his family.

“I am able to feed my family and when the rain is good I even have some extra produce to sell,” he told AgriVoice.

Meswele who says he used his own resources to fence and distump his fi eld over the years encouraged farmers, especially young ones to take advantage of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and invest in farming.

“This is a good programme which Batswana should take advantage of and help the country produce more food,” the old man who sees arable farming as the way forward for most said.

Meswele lamented that he did not harvest anything this past season due to lack of rain.

“I invested in Hybrid seed but what survived the heat was destroyed by kudus. I didn’t reap anything this past season.”

Another challenge he faces is lack of water. 0“It is so difficult to tend for my livestock when there is drought because there is no water.

“I struggle to get water to drink and this means my livestock really suffers in winter.

This is frustrating. Another deterrent is livestock theft.

“When I was working, I bought cattle and goats. It is painful that some thieves have stolen nine of my cattle, not to mention the goats,” he said.

Meswele is a member of a committee in Marokolwane which is responsible for the development of that area.

“We discuss farming programmes and Ipelegeng— how to best use it to develop our area, better our lives as well as teach the youth the importance of farming.

He spoke with a heavy heart of people who sold their fields, their children’s inheritance.

“It is sad that some people are squatting on their own land which they have sold.

“These fields are a legacy for our children—for them to farm because farming is our way of life,” he advised.