Although he admits he knows nothing about the new Agricultural Minister, Dr Edwin Dikoloti, member of Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU), Abel Modimo is hopeful the new broom will address the challenges facing farmers countrywide.
Modimo was one of the vocal critics of former Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia, who the union accused of personalising the sector, much to the detriment of farmers.
Ralotsia was sacked from cabinet earlier this year and replaced with Fidelis Molao, a move the farmers welcomed openly.
Speaking to The Voice this week, Modimo said he knows nothing about Dikoloti’s credentials or his assistant, Beauty Manake.
“To be honest with you, they are new faces to us. But as you know, the industry exists with or without the Minister and this is not a personalised department,” reiterated Modimo, who has previously served as BNBPU’s Secretary General.
Modimo’s advice to the new Minister and his deputy is to prioritise the restructuring of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to make it profitable.
Before the curtain closed on the 11th parliament, legislators had passed a bill on the Transition of BMC which will lead to its privatisation.
Modimo feels this will be an exercise in futility if the Commission is not restructured.
“The problem with BMC is that it is not making money. The main problem is cash flow due to expenses but nobody is prepared to deal with the issue,” he said, adding most farmers have lost confidence in BMC because of its tendency to pay farmers very late.
In turn this has led farmers to take advantage of the window to sell live cattle outside the country.
“This will only worsen the situation and we will have BMC which only slaughters old animals, their prices are not bad but late payment is making the situation bad,” noted Modimo.
Similarly, Sandveld Farmers Association Chairperson, Kgosiemang Molosiwa indicated he knows precious little about the new agric ministers.
Nonetheless, he called on the new regime to act on Ralotsia’s pledge to construct roads to Sandveld farms.
“Government long promised us roads. The government financial year has started but we have not received any update, we hope he acts on that proposal,” stressed Molosiwa.
He encouraged Dikoloti to resuscitate the agric sector, which he said has virtually collapsed.