Farmers operating in the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) Glen Valley incubation programme want to be given the opportunity to purchase farming land through tenant purchase scheme.
Speaking during a visit by the vice president Ponatshego Kedikilwe farmers pointed out that although they have lands they lack adequate water and electricity that will enable them to operate their own facilities. “We are ready to take up this business in any place as long as we have water and electricity,” said farmer Olefile Sebonego. He feared that they will not be able to secure farming land to carry out their skills, when they graduate from the LEA three-year programme.
Sebonego suggested that they be given the opportunity to purchase land through tenant purchase scheme, so that they can afford the start up capital. “We are ready to start on our own but we cannot make it without little assistance,” he pleaded. Since its inception in 2011 the 14 farmers who became part of the programme have been able to realise increased production of tomatoes through the use of hydroponics planting. Hydroculture is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. During the greenroom tour one of the young farmers Moremedi Nogayagae explained that hydroponics planting is a very productive method.
The Botswana College of Agriculture graduate said that the six tunnels that he operates are able to carry around 4300 plants. The plants only take seven weeks to mature and the harvesting period will then last for 10 months. In summer harvesting is done two times per week and peak production per season is estimated around 4000 Kg or 40 tonnes. “This tomatoes are able to make up to P300 000 and the losses are just minimal,” he said, adding that at times one might make up to P70 000 per month.
LEA chief executive Tebogo Matome said statistics by ministry of agriculture indicate that of the 7052 tonnes of tomatoes produced locally, Glen Valley production was 384 tonnes or 5.45 percent of local production. “But it must be noted that Glen Valley was never meant to increase production but rather to teach ‘AgriPrenuers’ how to produce in a controlled environment.” Matome expressed worry that the incubation programme might be benefiting limited number of farmers due to the long incubation period of three cropping cycles. He however said they plan on changing the period.