Botswana: Agriculture Ministry to Regroup Pickets Into Mini Camps

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Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is aiming to regroup veterinary pickets into mini camps consisting of a maximum of four field assistants, says Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti.

He said the camps would be at intervals of approximately 20kms to enable field assistants to patrol a distance of 10km on each side.

The minister was answering a question at Ntlo ya Dikgosi on July 14.

He explained that the decision to bring pickets together was intended to protect field assistants working along the border because their lives were at risk.

He also noted that their belongings were often stolen due to cross border crime.

He noted that structures that were previously used when field assistants were paired for pickets had been salvaged and would be used to provide accommodation in the mini camps.

He said the ministry was in the process of removing unusable structures that harboured cross border livestock rustlers, adding that they had also come up with an initiative to have field assistant patrols using bicycles and paying the assistants allowances.

Furthermore, he said the ministry did not have field assistant posts or vacancies, and that they had collaborated with relevant security agents to minimise any activity that would pose a risk of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Zone 7.

He also said the ministry had procured rail poles to use for the fence together with a cable to minimise damage to it.

“It is not possible to construct a complete barrier as elephants will need to cross the barrier in search of water and pasture. Vandalism of the fence is also a cause for concern and my ministry has joined other relevant stakeholders to undertake joint operations along the common border to improve the situation,” Dr Dikoloti said.

Kgosi Ezekiel Masilo of Bobirwa region had wanted to know if there were any plans to reconstruct the dilapidated and abandoned veterinary pickets along the disease control fence between Botswana and Zimbabwe.

He said some of the structures had become hiding places for cross border livestock rustlers.

He also wanted to know if the ministry would employ more field assistants to reduce the patrol distance between the pickets, and in the process reduce the risk of occurrence of FMD in Zone 7.

Furthermore, he asked if there would be alternative means of constructing a barrier because the current disease control fence had to be continuously replaced due to destruction by elephants.

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