A serious food shortage looms large in the North East District (NED) thanks to a number of factors ranging from drought to slow and little ploughing activities. Crops and pastures are withering due to erratic rains in the area. And some farmers have abandoned their fields to concentrate on other businesses that would generate income for the struggling growers.
Field officers in the northeast who talked to this publication charged that some farmers are just ploughing their fields but no planting is taking place. They said farmers plough and later abandon fields in order to benefit from government compensation. Under the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) the government pays farmers P500 per ploughed hectare as compensation.
NED council chairperson City Kealotswe also painted a grim picture about the prospects of food security in the northeastern part of the country last Monday. With a baseline area of about 15 000 ha of cultivatable land, Kealotswe said only 3 481.43ha have been ploughed.
Out of the ploughed land, 542.43 ha are row planted – a farming system that usually does not produce much. “It will be wrong not to mention pests and diseases situation while talking about crops. The department of agriculture is currently carrying out a survey of Quelea birds in the whole district,” said the council chairperson.
According to Kealotswe, three colonies have been identified not to mention an outbreak of the African armyworm in areas on the eastern and western part of the border district.