Botswana hit hard by climate change effects

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Effects of climate change, which have led to, among others, total crop failure, have hit Botswana hard, senior government official has revealed. 

Deputy permanent secretary in the ministry responsible for agriculture, Thabang Botshoma, told the first Botswana Farmers Association Climate Change Workshop in Gaborone that the effects of climate change in Botswana are worsening. 

He warned that if Botswana citizens do not change their behaviour regarding greenhouse gas emissions, climate change effects would continue to worsen. 

“The effects of climate change are hitting home because crop production has decreased. Climate change is currently doing more harm within the agricultural sector and this calls for action,” he said. 

According to Botshoma, weather patterns were rising, sea levels were rising, and weather events were becoming more extremely high temperatures. 

“As we speak, drought is taking over and rainfall is scarce. This is because greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest level,” said Botshoma. 

Botshoma revealed that greenhouse gas emissions were high in Botswana as a result of high numbers of imported vehicles. 

Botswana imports second-hand vehicles from Asian countries, among them, Japan and Singapore. 

Botshoma urged Botswana residents to turn to renewable energy to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Speaking at the same event, Botswana Farmers Association president, Diane Sibanda, said his association would lobby and advocate for vulnerable and smallholder farmers, who at most times were economically disadvantaged. 

“It is important for farmers to recognise the need to align themselves with climate change,” she said. 

Sibanda said the farmers’ association empowers and promotes participation of women farmers in economic and social spheres. 

For his part, the minister responsible for agriculture, Partrick Ralotsia said he anticipates the looming drought to impact severely on food security at household level and it is expected to be worse than that of last year.

He said for the 2018/19 ploughing season, the planted area will be considerably lower than the previous season. 

He said this is because most the crops planted are stunted and already showing signs of wilting while others have reached permanent wilting, which translates to zero harvest. 

Ralotsia said the looming drought, which he attributed to global warming or climate change, has the potential to decimate the country’s livestock herd as well. He urged farmers to sell their livestock to avoid losses.

He said the southwestern part of the country is the most affected having received less than 30 mm of rainfall. 

He said livestock mortalities were reported in that area in February this year and warned that those were signs of severe drought, considering the time they occurred.

 

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