By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone - President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared 2018/19 a drought year.
The declaration follows consideration of the Drought and Household Food Security Assessment and Analysis Report.
In a statement, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Boipolelo Khumomatlhare, said that the assessment indicated that the 2018/19 rainfall season was characterised by rains which were poor both in space and time over most parts of the country during the first half of the season. Some districts did not even receive their onsets.
He explained that the unevenly distributed rains, heat waves and dry spells that prevailed throughout the season resulted in lower hectarage planted and crop failure.
According to Khumomatlhare, livestock condition has decreased from good to fair and the condition is expected to deteriorate further looking at the current grazing and water situations. Furthermore, he said, indications are that, livelihoods of a significant number of rural households remain vulnerable and thus the need for government’s intervention.
“In view of these conditions, 2018/19 has been declared a drought year. The following relief measures, actions and assistance be implemented; the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security to; restocking the Strategic Grain Reserve to augment the 98% estimated cereal deficit,” said Khumomatlhare.
Other measures include increasing current livestock drought subsidy for feeds (inclusive of high energy feeds for mature animals and protein feeds for young ones), vaccines and drugs from 25% to 35% and the subsidy be extended to cover dairy cattle, small-scale piggery and poultry farmers.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will also pay 85% of loans to farmers who got seasonal loans from Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and National Development Bank (NDB) through the Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS).
The Ministry of Health and Wellness will to continue the implementation of direct feeding in health facilities (clinics and health posts) presenting with high rates of total underweight (10% and above), and introduce a special food basket to children at all mobile stops in deserving districts presenting high rates of total underweight (10% and above).
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will provide supplementary feeding in all primary schools as well as single supplementary feeding ration for children aged 6-59 months with normal nutritional status.
The ministry will also provide double supplementary feeding ration for moderately and severely underweight children aged 6-59 months.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will continue with the implementation of urgent basic food relief packages to deserving residents in other parts of the country that have been mostly affected by drought. These measures will be implemented with effect from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.