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Following government’s efforts to procure agricultural produce directly from farmers for consumption by learners in primary schools, those in the Okavango district are said to be failing to meet the demand for vegetables.
This was revealed by the Okavango District Council Chairperson Gaopalelwe Ronald when addressing a full council meeting this week. According to him, the implementation of the Early Breakfast Feeding Program in primary schools is facing a challenge of low supply of vegetables such as tomatoes and onions.
“Learners are having meals before they attend classes while the locals are benefiting through the supply of various feeds hence we are calling on farmers to produce more to meet the demand. We have procurement for eggs, vegetables (rape, cabbage, spinach, onions and tomatoes) and fruits,” Ronald noted.
He indicated that farmers are unable to meet the demand due to the fact that they adopt agricultural technologies at very low pace and implementation of proper agricultural practices leading to poor production.
“Famers fail to implement agricultural practices such as moisture conservation, testing the soils before the next ploughing season, choosing the right varieties of seeds, proper planting methods, planting at the right moisture content, use of fertilizer, timely weed control and pest control which finally affects the output per hector,” Ronald stated.
He indicated that so far only two farmers across the District have applied for the ISPAAD Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy (IAS) adding that the duo has since been approved pending their contribution. He further called on for horticulture farmers to take advantage of the rich soils and government initiatives.
“I would like to see our farmers growing from subsistence to commercial status and this can only be done through syndicates and utilising the many government initiatives geared to developing this sector,” Ronald said.
Ronald indicated that in efforts to encourage local empowerment council has since engaged 11 local millers as per their location for grinding sorghum meals for schools.
The chairman added that this is also an endeavor to empower funded beneficiaries under the Poverty Eradication programme as the district has continued to reserve bread supply in schools towards the said group. He revealed that a total of ninety-seven beneficiaries benefitted this financial year.