The decision by government through the Ministry of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism (MWET) to place Lake Ngami Conservation Trust in charge of managing the Lake could come back to haunt them-the trust is reportedly bankrupt.
It has surfaced that the Trust will not be able to enact the first stage of of developments and solutions promised the Ngami fishermen.
Government, through the MWET minister Tshekedi Khama after issuing a directive closure and a fishing ban at the lake on February 2015 disclosed that the 12 months ban will give time for the trust to build a hotel, ablutions and other necessities to accommodate fishermen who will be licensed to fish at Lake Ngami.
Three months on, none of the developments have begun. Instead the mandated Trust is however reported to be running around begging international financial donors for donations to help pay for an Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
It has been reported that the Trust is not financially able to pay for the environmental impact assessments (EIA) to be made on the site where they plan to develop within the lake. The assessments are normally made for approval of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide how the area will be managed. According to an official from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks the total cost of the EMP is estimated to be around P100 000.00.
“The trust has been registered and approved but however we are stuck and cannot move forward because of the EMP, it is unfortunate that the Trust does not have the money to pay for it,” Mpho Setlhogile an Official from DWNP revealed when addressing the Maun Administrative Authority Sub Council this week.
According to Setlhogile, the Trust through its Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) has pleaded for financial assistance from international bodies which include, Conservation Trust Fund, United Nation Development Plan’s Sustainable Land Management project, Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Area (KAZA) and locally from the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO).
“We are waiting in hope that we can get a positive response from them,” lamented Setlhogile.
In response to the developments, MAA Councilors have complained that the government made an urgent and unthought-of decision without considering proper preparations of changes they promised fishermen. Some argued that the government could have not urgently banned fishing but rather used the fishing at the lake to raise the necessary funds.
The council members have gone out full blast, declaring failure on the government’s planning strategy. The government was further accused of being rash, since if it had wisely thought the decision through, the money for the EMP could have been raised through the fishing activity and the Trust would not be in the rut.
Sub Council Chairman, Gaokgakala Letswee also stressed that DWNP should update them on regular bases, reasoning that the community affected by the ban are questioning the council on its progress, and as councillors they to provide answers.
Meanwhile DWNP has revealed that they are still experiencing challenges of illegal fishers at the lake. The department said that they continue to engage security agencies including Botswana Police Service and Botswana Defence Force to address the situation.
Fishing at both Lake Ngami and Lake Xau was banned by the government after concerns were raised in regard to the mass influx of commercial fishermen (including foreigners) at the lakes. Government argued that the influx could lead to fish resources depletion. The state also complained of environmental concerns sighting littering and no ablutions despite the mass numbers of people living there.
The Ministry of Entrepreneurship (MOE) through the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a workshop in which they were training Horticulture Farmers on Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) using wastewater/ effluent water on vegetable production.
This initiative seeks to increase certainty that agricultural commodities meet certain standard requirements and encouraging conformity and provide a significant opportunity for continues improvement of various practices involved for the production and processes of agricultural products.
Lesedi Modo-Mmopelwa, assistant FAO representative, during the training program noted that Botswana’s horticulture sector has gained increased importance due to import restrictions on specific horticultural items that came into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Global challenges, such as climate change, however, have led to unpredictable rainfall patterns, resulting in water scarcity and the use of wastewater for irrigation hence why farmers frequently turn to effluent water due to limited access to freshwater resources.
“In recent years we have witnessed growing challenge faced by famers around the world and increasing pressure on water sources as fresh water becomes scares living more farmers with no option but to turn to other sources of water for irrigation in most cases. Used waste water or fluent water is the only viable option that we resort to,” said Modo-Mmopelwa.
Modo-Mmopelwa further said that this shift towards wastewater for irrigation is born out of necessity, but it also presents significant challenges that we must address to safeguard food safety and the health of communities; hence, we are here to train our horticulture farmers on good agriculture practices using wastewater in vegetable production.
“Botswana’s horticulture sector has aid increasing significant due to import restrictions. I emphasize that you should not relax and think that because boarders have been closed it means that we are safe. We would need to compete globally, within the region and be able to export our products. We must make sure that we practice good agricultural practices,” Modo-Mmopelwa said.
Modo-Mmopelwa said this heightened focus on horticulture also presents several challenges including water scarcity utilization wastewater for irrigation and this transition raises valid concerns about food safety and underscores urgency of addressing this issue to ensure that agricultural practices adhered to as established standards.
“The recent involving a horticulture farmer using waste water to clean farm produce serves as a stuck reminder of the challenges we face. It is an issue that demand immediate attention and the active collaboration of all relevant stakeholders,” noted Modo-Mmopelwa.
Modo-Mmopelwa appreciated the training, she said this training is a pivotal steps towards achieving food security and sustainability in Botswana’s horticulture sector to seek to empower farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a dynamic agricultural landscape while upholding food safety and adhering to established standards. This initiative also contribute to long term resilient and prosperity of the horticulture sector in Botswana.
Mpho Thaga Principal Agriculture Engineering said this water is a germ or precious commodity because it has lot of benefits in the agricultural sector especially the crop sector since it is reliable source of water. Explaining the meaning behind germ, he said this water contains lot of nutrients that one does not need to use fertilizers. The wastewater contains nutrients that are required by our crops to grow. He said the water is always available throughout in the water streams.
“However there are some risks involved with the use of this treated wastewater. Risks involved with the use of this water is that it contains pathogens if not properly treated. Heavy metals is also a risk when they are presence in our waters they turn to cause cancer when consumed. The smell of untreated water cannot be healthy to some people,” said Thaga.
Thaga said event with that situation, the government of Botswana through National Master Plan for the Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD) and National water Master plan reviews of 2006 identified this water as a reliable water source that can be used to effectively and efficiently increase crop productivity and crop production and relieve the pressure on fresh water.
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The merry-go-round is never ending in the dispute between Joseph Pilane and family. Of late, the Chinese contractor implicated in the case, Huashi Li and President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s sisters, Phadi Mmutle Masisi and Tshidi Masisi Hlanze have denied any links to the President’s nephew, Pilane.