- Tractor owners want P3441 per hectare
- Government balks, offers P1400 instead
As the ploughing season gets underway following recent rains, tractors owners and government are engaged in a brawl over ISPAAD draught power rates
This comes after the Botswana Tractors Association recently made targeted demands to government this ploughing season. Among the demands was for government to adjust the ISPAAD ploughing rate from the current P1160 to P3441. The association also requests for the increment of the conventional broadcasting price to P1200.
In response government has announced a revised ISPAAD draught power rates for the 2022/23 ploughing season that falls far below the demands by the association. Under the new rates, government has offered P1400/ hectare ploughing rate, P450/ hectare harrowing rate and P900/hectare minimum tillage rate.
“The government shall, therefore not pay amount above the set rate,” a statement from the agriculture ministry on Wednesday.
The Ministry’s Chief Public Relations Officer, Moreri Moesi has explained that after assessing the tractors association concerns they resolved to increase the amount to P1400. He said that the government is currently facing financial constraints therefore cannot meet the tractor owners’ demands of a P3441 rate. Moesi said they understand well that the amount cannot cover all the costs that come with tractor operations but urged tractors owners to assist farmers because the government has made an effort.
Following government announcement of the new rates, Batswana Tractors Association, Secretary General Goemang Nyatshane has said that await a meeting with the government to get an official update about the adjusted prices and also to discuss the matter further. He said that they are also going to meet with other tractors owners to discuss the way forward on the issue.
Nyatshane has also revealed that the adjusted rates by government were far below what they had demanded, adding that as individual tractor owner he cannot plough for farmers at the set rate.
Ngamiland Tractor Owners Association Chairman, Bahiti Moruakgomo recently pledged support over the decision by Botswana Tractors Association to adjust the government subsidy from P1160 to P3441.
Moruakgomo stressed that the current rate of P1160, which was last adjusted in 2013, adding that it was high time the government adjust the price taking into consideration the costs that comes with operating a tractor.
Moruakgomo added that the situation is worsened by the fact that tractor spare parts are very expensive in Maun unlike in other areas such as Gaborone and Francistown and they are therefore forced to travel long distances to buy. He said it costs over P10 000 to buy one tyre.
“As tractor owners we have taken a decision not to plough for everyone under the ISPAAD program until government adjust the prices, but for those farmers who can afford to pay the amount that we demand we can assist them,” he revealed.