As the ploughing season gained momentum in most parts of the country, Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS) was in the Okavango Delta in early December to hand over seed to farmers in the villages of Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gudigwa, and Sankoyo. For this year’s planting season, OWS partnered with Seed Co Botswana to hand over two tonnes of maize seed worth over BWP95,000. Last year, OWS presented cowpeas, maize and millet seed with a value of BWP25.000 to farmers in these areas.
OWS has worked tirelessly for several years now to support crop farming within its partner-communities – including providing tractors and agricultural implements to assist with ploughing fields in Eretsha and Sankoyo villages. In Eretsha, OWS is part of a multi-stakeholder partnership project promoting field clustering and conservation farming. Through this project, over 100 fields have been clustered, using electric fencing to keep out elephants. Simultaneously, OWS has made available a JCB backhoe loader to de-stump fields and further increase the arable land in the clusters.
Furthermore, to mitigate challenges brought about by human-wildlife conflict, OWS has pledged to drill six boreholes near ploughing fields in the villages of Mokgacha, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa, reducing the potential risk of encountering wildlife, especially elephants, when the farmers have to fetch water from the villages.
“Our objective as Okavango Wilderness Safaris is to play a greater role in enhancing food production in the area, complementing Government’s efforts to ensure food security. We have been working to assist local farmers produce food over the years in various ways; this has included seed distributions and assistance with implements, among others. Now, our partnership with Seed Co Botswana takes those efforts a step further, as we hand over two varieties of white maize that prove popular and in need in the area. It is a testament to our unending desire to assist farmers in the area in a sustainable manner”, said OWS Stakeholder Manager, Moalosi Lebekwe.
Seed Co Botswana’s Hoffman Rammala assured the farmers that the seeds donated were high-quality products and will yield great results when used appropriately, supporting the opportunity for greater self-sufficiency for communities and food security nationwide.
Specially Elected Councillor, Molatlhegi Bayeyi, graced all five villages’ seed handovers in the OCT area. He expressed gratitude to OWS and Seed Co for their dedication to improving farming for the Okavango Community Trust (OCT) villages, building further on the strong relationship that OCT has with OWS.
He noted, “Wilderness has gone beyond just being a lessee, and has taken an interest in improving the livelihoods of the communities adjacent to the concessions”. Testament to this is the food relief drive that Wilderness undertook during the Covid-19 pandemic, when they distributed over 200 tonnes of essentials hampers to the residents on numerous occasions. “It would be in the best interests of the community and the company that the partnership remains in force”, he said.
The seed handover was very well received by farmers and community leaders alike as necessary and encouraging, given the deteriorating interest in farming amid issues of human-wildlife conflict. This remains a core focus for OWS, which is committed to creating shared value to support the communities where it operates.