Saturday, February 22, 2014

Farmers hit out at hunting ban

Two of the eight-point resolutions agreed between Ngamiland farmers and the government in August 2012 appear to be proving difficult to fulfill.These relate to special quota for elephants encroaching in farming areas and the establishment of a disease control fund.Under the elephant resolution, it was agreed at the time that elephants will be removed from settled areas and cull through safari hunting quotas the elephants continue to be problem animals.  However, with the current blanket banning of hunting on state land in the country, instituted by President Ian Khama with effect from January 1 this year, that option looks unfeasible.

At the recent stakeholders meeting, the farmers did not take kindly to government’s arbitrary decision to ban hunting without considering the resolution that was agreed upon with them.  They argued that elephants are a real factor in the fight to control the spread of FMD since they destroy buffalo fences and other infrastructure. Another resolution that has proved tricky to navigate relates to the stablishment of the disease control fund.Under this resolution, it was envisaged that funds could be drawn from diverse sources that included the Conservation Trust Fund, Tourism Levy, Matimela Auction Sales, the cattle levy and farmer contribution.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Marcus Chimbombi acknowledged as much that the inclusion of other funds in the resolution was inappropriate in the first place “as these are controlled by other ministry-specific Acts.  It is not possible to get financial assistance from these funds as there are answerable to specific legislations.”Faced with this dilemma, the ministry “has now decided to do away with all other levies and stick with the Cattle Levy,” said Chimbombi adding that this might end up having to be legislated for at Parliament.

Chimbombi also disclosed that regarding conservation trust funds, the DVS has submitted a proposal to the Elephant Fund and is awaiting response from them.

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