Tati East Member of Parliament Moyo Guma who is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is doubtful that the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) can diversify the country’s Agriculture sector.
ISPAAD-one of President Ian Khama’s pet projects -has been getting cash injections from government running into millions but Guma, who is also a ruling party MP, on Wednesday said the programme has not given “us value for money.” The MP questioned the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Micus Chimbombi who was appearing before the PAC whether it was not wise rather to concentrate on mega agricultural projects. “Can we diversify the economy and the agriculture sector by ISPAAD instead of working on mega projects?” asked Guma. The MP also suggested that the Foot and Mouth Disease should be declared national disaster because of the impact it has on people’s livelihood.
In his response Chimbombi said arable agriculture production is based on two foundations, which he said, are major projects and subsistence farming. The PS noted that ISPAAD is designed to encourage farmers to go to the fields and plough and also to improve household food security. He conceded that economic diversification could be addressed through mega projects. ISPAAD was introduced in 2008 to strengthen farmers’ assistance programmes and improve food security. This year the Minister of Agriculture asked for a total of P320 million in parliament to be spent on ISPAAD, and other programmes under agricultural support schemes.