Horticultural farmers in the peripheries of Francistown are counting their losses after the devastating impact of the depressed tropical cyclone Dineo.
Officials from the ministry say the affected farmers are being assessed in order to quantify the damage caused by the storm.
Farmers told Voice Money in a random interview that it is going to be difficult for them to recover without the assistance of the government through the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security.
The storm brought about incessant rains for a period of close to a month – in a development that resulted in most plants especially vegetables being soaked in leached soils, farmers have complained.
Most farmers who talked to Voice Money said their respective assessments of the damage bill could be enormous. According to farmers, all the vegetables varieties ranging from rape to tomatoes with the exception of cabbages were damaged.
“My rape and tomatoes were completely wiped out,” said Biki Baraedi, a horticultural farmer based at the Ditladi area just outside Tonota village in the central administrative district. He said the farmers are dealing with the loss alone.
Baraedi said the emotional toll on the farming families was visible. For some of the farmers, it was for the first time to experience such kind of a devastating loss from a natural disaster of this nature, he said.
Another farmer, Molosiwa Molosiwa said: “We operate on shoe string budgets, as smallholder farmers in Botswana. And we sometimes borrow investment capital all the time to buy inputs with the hope that we will pay after selling. But this has all gone to the waste.”
“It took us four to six months to prepare the land and put everything in place. But within three hours it was totally destroyed, so we need to be very understanding of the mental situation farmers are in right now,” lamented Molosiwa.
Meanwhile, the damage caused has created an acute shortage of vegetables in Francistown. Most vendors have been left in the lurch with nothing to sell in their stalls.