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Ministry launches war against pests

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P7 MILLION SET ASIDE TO TACKLE ARMYWORM

To curb the spread of the ravaging Fall Army worm (FAW) in the country, the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Food Organisation (FAO)and the Japanese government have set aside P7 million to fight the destructive pest.

This was disclosed by the Chief Plant Protection officer Valeminah Pelokgale recently in Francistown during a press briefing and tour of one of the affected farms in the region.

“The Fall army worm was first detected in the United States of America. In Africa it hit our shores in 2016 and the first incident in Botswana was reported in Kweneng district in 2017,” explained the Chief Plant Protection Officer.

Since the first detection in Botswana the Fall Army Worm (FAW) has been on the increase and spreading across the country. Fall Army Worm mainly attacks cereal crops such as maize, millet and sorghum.

“This planting season we have received reports from all districts except Kgalagadi and Gantsi. As government, together with our partners we will use the P7 million to educate farmers and other stakeholders about fall army worm.”

“In other interventions we have set traps around the country to capture the adult Fall Army warm. We have printed pamphlets and posters to disseminate all critical information about this pest. We have also collaborated with media houses, universities such as BUAN, BIUST and UB to raise awareness,”said Pelokgale who went on to reiterate that awareness and education campaign is critical, because there are different kinds of armyworms.

“But the Fall Army worm is localised in one area and does not move in swamps. This worm in particular has a Y shape on its forehead and four dots on its abdomen. These are the distinguishing features of FAW from other army worms.”

This season Pelokgale said the most hard hit districts were Southern and South East districts.

“Some of the farms we inspected have an estimated damage of 70 per cent and above. In short, the worms have left the maize crop in tatters,”she lamented.

Currently the Ministry does not have approximates of yield loss for the 2019/20 ploughing season.

On a continental level, Dr Willio Ochilo from the Centre of Agriculture and Bio Science (CABI) revealed the situation in Botswana was simillar to situations in other African countries.

“All countries in Africa are experiencing similar challenges with the FAW. The extent of damage is far reaching and cause crippling food shortage, it is therefore critical to fight the pest with all we have”, continued Ochilo.

The CABI representative who is based in Nairobi Kenya said ,” Fall army worm can be controlled through crop rotation, weeding field thoroughly and inspecting one’s field frequent so a farmer detects pest presence very early before extensive damage to crops has been caused.”

A single moth of fall army worm can produce approximately 2 000 eggs and cause yield loss ranging between 73 to 90 per cent.

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Sangomas’ fatal battle

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Trio implicated in rival’s fiery death

Three traditional doctors in Serowe will have their spiritual powers put to the test as they race against time to escape a possible death penalty for the gruesome murder of a rival medicine man on 19th February.

The trio of Keitumetse Dudu Seakane, 34, Phaphane Jack, 27, and Gladys Dintwa, 52, is accused of burning Mhanje Raplanka alive at his home in Itsokwane Farms, just a few kilometers from Moiyabana.

The three sangomas, who were granted bail by Serowe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 19th March, appeared again for mention this Monday.

Speaking to The Voice, No. 2 District Officer Commanding, Paul Oketsang, confirmed the trio has been charged with the 67-year-old Raplanka’s murder.

However, the top cop would not go into detail as the matter is sensitive and still under investigation.

In an exclusive, emotional interview with this publication, a family spokesperson revealed they received a call at midnight on February 19th from concerned neighbours at the usually quite lands.

“They said people were killing our father and we should rush as quickly as possible to fetch him as he needed medical attention,” narrated the source, who pleaded to remain anonymous as he still has to give evidence in court.

The spokesperson is convinced the mastermind behind the cold-blooded murder was Gladys, the deceased’s niece.

“From what we learnt after the old man’s death, Gladys, who’s a traditional doctor, had once asked her uncle to pass on his shrine to her, a request he flatly rejected.”

According to the source, the holy shrine in the middle of the elderly man’s farm has long been a source of envy for Gladys, who desperately needed it to fortify herself.

Narrating his version of events from the fateful night, the family member claimed the trio drove together in a Honda Fit owned by Jack, parking close to the corrugated mud hut where an unsuspecting Raplanka lay sleeping.

“Gladys remained behind in the car, while Keitumetse and Phaphane proceeded to the house. They took a bath at the gate before entering the yard,” The Voice was told.

Suspects

The two sangomas allegedly doused the house in petrol before setting it on fire.

“From what we heard, the old man somehow managed to break through the door before he was completely consumed by fire. But they knocked him down with a log and poured more petrol on his burning body,” said the source, who remained remarkably calm considering his gory narrative.

Convinced Raplanka was dead, the two men reportedly returned to the car and fled the scene.

“Miraculously, he managed to extinguish the fire and staggered to the next yard, about a kilometre away, where he narrated his ordeal and named his attackers. It was the neighbours who alerted us and the police,” continued the family insider.

According to the source, a police van arrived an hour later to pick the badly burnt old man, who unfortunately died on the way to the hospital, a few kilometers from Moiyabana.

The suspects were arrested around noon the next day.

They are due back in court for mention on 2nd June.

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Botswana confirms four (4) cases of Covid-19

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  1. As noted yesterday Botswana has confirmed 3 cases of Covid-19. We now report a fourth Covid-19 case, this case is of a 79 old lady from Ramotswa who unfortunately demised on the 25th March, 2020 and was buried over the weekend on the 28th March 2020. She had travelled to Motswedi, South Africa on the 14 March 2020 and returned the following day on the 15th March 2020.

She started showing symptoms on the 21 March 2020 and later developed fever. It was noted that she had a significant other, comorbidities. On return from Motswedi she was kept on home quarantine from where she was brought to Bamalete Lutheran Hospital.

She was seen in Accident and Emergency and put under mandatory quarantine where she died on the 25 March 2020, and burial conducted with the necessary precautions of someone suspected to have highly an infectious disease.

Contact tracing is currently underway and so far 14 have been identified, quarantined and tested for Covid-19. Results are awaited.
Regarding the previous 3 cases we would like the Nation to note the following:

  1. The first case is a 47-year-old male, Motswana who came from Basingstoke, travelled to the United Kingdom on the 29th February 2020 and returned on the 21st March 2020. At the time of arrival the patient was asymptomatic.

The patient developed a fever (>38°C), coughing and running shortness of breath, the patient was swabbed on the 28th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

  1. The second case is a 40-year-old female Motswana who travelled with her husband to Thailand on the 10th March 2020 and returned to Botswana on 20th March 2020 through Dubai, and through OR Tambo and SSKI.

The lady developed sore throat, was coughing and had a headache.

She was swabbed on the 27th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

  1. The third case is a 42-year-old male Motswana who travelled with his wife to Thailand on the 10th March 2020 and returned to Botswana on 20th March 2020 through Dubai, and through OR Tambo and SSKI.

The male was coughing with a temperature of 37.8°C. He was swabbed on the 27th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

As we face this challenge I call upon you my Countryman to stand together in unity as we fight this scourge. We together shall prevail. We have done this before and we shall do it again.

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