The Ministry of Lands and Housing has begun a drive in which they encourage people to maximise the use of agricultural land they own.
This follows a Presidential Directive of February 2013 to approve the introduction of integrated farming on land allocated for agricultural use. Integrated farming is practising the various agricultural enterprises including arable, small stock and beef, which are compatible and support each other in an enclosed parcel of land.
The common practice in Botswana is that there are three settlement patterns in distinct areas being villages, lands and cattle posts. This has seen some people acquiring several pieces of land while others struggle to get any.
Tlokweng Land Board Chairperson, Thuso Bogatsu said Tlokweng in the South East District has experienced dire shortage of land as it attracts more people due to its proximity to the capital Gaborone. “Tlokweng has a problem of shortage of land as many people have acquired different pieces of land for different uses even though many still underutilise the allocated land hence the ministry has introduced guidelines on integrated farming.” Tlokweng Land Board held a stakeholders’ workshop on Wednesday to consult the public on the integrated farming guidelines. Bogatsu explained that if one owns a piece of agricultural land, even if it was initially specified for a certain usage, the ministry through land boards now allows that the person can apply to have the land used for several farming purposes.
“This will save people cost of developing different pieces of land for different uses as one piece of land could accommodate activities such as piggery, bee keeping, irrigation gardening and small stock. In the past all these activities could not be allowed in one area but we have realised that demand for land is outgrowing the available land in the country,” Bogatsu explained and noted that this called for a robust integrated land use planning system.
He gave example of South Africa where it is common to use the same piece of land for integrated farming. However, the Land Board has made it clear that one should have proper fencing of the field to divide the farming activities. A councillor in the South East district Council, Donald Bogatsu said the guidelines were long overdue as the traditional ways of separating the villages, lands and cattle post were wasting too much land. The Land Board chair however said even though the guidelines are already in use, they have not assessed the possibilities of using same land as residential land.