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Tourism operations closure affects pig farming

Closure of the tourism operations due to COVID-19 outbreak is reported to have negatively affected the pig farming in Ngamiland district.

The pandemic’s adverse effect on tourism industry has resulted in many companies trading directly or indirectly in the sector shutting down.

Presenting a report on the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural sector to the District Development Committee (DDC) meeting in Maun recently, the acting district agricultural coordinator, Mr Kenneth Mabote revealed that the district normally recorded five tonnes (100 pigs) of pork in a quarter but it has dropped to one tonne a quarter due to the closure of the tourism operations which were the main consumers of pork.

He noted that the absence of market due to the industry succumbing to the pandemic made breeding difficult due to financial challenges, given that feeding pigs was costly. Stock theft added to their woes during the lockdown, due to movement restrictions which saw farmers not being able to access their places of operations. 

Members of DDC were also informed that farmers were crying foul as the pig ration was not on subsidy, therefore it was costly for them to continue breeding to multiply stock and improve meat quality . 

Besides piggery projects, Mr Mabote noted that many productions in the agricultural sector were affected by the pandemic, citing the beef and small stock production, agronomy (field crops) horticulture and poultry productions among others.On beef and small production, he noted that poor market was the major problem, adding that government programmes such as LIMID were not buying during the period of April to June.

With regard to agronomy, Mr Mabote highlighted that dry farming was at physiological maturity during the declaration of lock down in April and farmers could not maximise their proceeds in sales of green mealies. He also stated that, that was the time when human/wildlife conflict incidents were experienced. In addition, he said there were hindrances on services such as data collection, monitoring and the entire extension service as they had to comply with the COVID-19 protocols.

The pandemic, he said impacted negatively on the livelihoods of the community as they experienced crop losses leading to reduced food at household level, farmers failing to attain expected income due to closure of the markets and increased unemployment as farm workers lost their jobs. 

Mr Mabote reported that a total of 8 233 farmers ploughed during the 2019/20 season of which 681 registered to sell their produce during the pandemic but revealed that only 223 managed to sell to the council as some farmers were complaining about low prices.

Production target for 2019/29 ploughing season, he said was 5000mt for cereals combined. 

On poultry production, it was reported that 160 farmers were in production and only 18 broilers projects with a total of 1603 chickens were sold through the COVID-19 dispensation while under egg production, twelve farmers with a total of over 800 dozens managed to sell their production through the same dispensation.

“The remaining 29 113 chickens and 14 420.5 dozens had no market and majority got wasted while others were sold at a give-away price,” he added.

Mr Mabote reported that dairy production was not adversely affected during lockdown as their main market was government institutions such as schools, prisons and hospital.

But, closure of schools, he said reduced proceeds as some milk was lost before the farmers started milk processing adding that production was slightly below target because some animals were drying and some were calving. ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Esther Mmolai

Location : MAUN

Event : DDC meeting

Date : Nov 22 Sun,2020

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