In an effort to address the challenge of backlog on the supply of goats under the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) programme of the poverty eradication initiative, the Department of Animal Production under the Ministry of Agriculture has resolved to procure goats from Namibia. According to Botswana news agency BOPA, the first batch of 400 goats is expected to be bought this quarter. Addressing Letlhakeng sub council forum during the course of last week, head of the department in Letlhakeng, Mr Bakang Keinyatse said the decision was reached after they failed to find enough stock locally to meet the high demand of goats for their small stock projects.
He said on arrival from Namibia, the goats will be kept under observation at the department’s farm at Mantshwabisi before being distributed to the beneficiaries on the waiting list. He also indicated that the farm is still being renovated and that as soon as the renovations are complete, the procurement process will commence. However, councillors indicated their reservations about the foreign procurement. The councillor for Mantshwabisi, Cllr Meshack Tshenyego complained that procuring the goats in Namibia will cost government dearly when factoring in the costs of transportation. He therefore suggested that it was better government increase the current P700 per goat price to entice farmers into selling to government.
“The reason that government is struggling to find goats locally is because of the low price per goat, and I am confident that should this amount be increased, farmers will come forth,” he said. Cllr Tshenyego also said that although increasing the amount per head will cost government, it will still be cheaper compared to buying outside, especially that goats from Namibia will need to be vaccinated and fed while still awaiting distribution. Cllr Tshenyego also indicated that there have been some cases in the past where goats died while being kept at the Mantshwabisi ranch, and expressed fear on the possibility of the same re-occurring. Nominated councillor, Mr Digobo Ramathaosa also expressed his confidence in the availability of goats locally, and said that farmers are reluctant to sell their goats to government because of the slow process of payment.
“Government should improve its system of paying the farmers because they cannot stand waiting for months for their payment. Should government speed up the payment process, I am sure it will not struggle to find goats locally,” he said. He said government should consider the process of paying cash in direct exchange for goats. The councillor for Moshaweng-Monwane, Mr Rutang Rasega on the other hand expressed fear on goats from Namibia being sustained locally, saying that goats are susceptible to diseases such as heartwater when moved to a totally different environment.
He cited an example where goats procured from Charleshill, from the environment he said is similar to most parts of Namibia perished in large numbers after being distributed to beneficiaries in the Moshaweng area. The Letlhakeng, sub council chairman, Cllr Tlotlo Batlhopi also reiterated his fellow councillors’ suggestions that slow payments are a major contributory factor in struggling to find goats.
He said in his address of kgotla meetings across the sub-district, some farmers admitted that if it was not for the slow process of payment, they will be willingly doing business with government. In response, Keinyatse said that there is a new arrangement that beneficiaries can be given cash in hand to directly buy the goats from identified sellers, therefore eliminating the issue of slow payments.
He also said that the Namibian environment is not very different from that of areas where they want to distribute the goats, but said they will however, confirm the exact areas where the goats will be procured before they can be certain how long they will be kept under observation.