Planning is key to food security
BEYOND the welcome relief from the heat which is very oppressive in summer, the rains which have been pounding various parts of the country are certainly welcome to the farming community in the country.
But without proper planning on the part of both farmers and government, the rains will come and go without corresponding progress in the country’s ability to ensure food security.
It is no secret that just like in most African countries and other developing nations in other continents, food production in our beloved Mountain Kingdom is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
Periodic droughts and the lack of a coordinated approach to planning in agriculture have ensured that 51 years after independence, we continue to wear the unenviable tag of net importers of food in addition to surviving on donations.
We are heavily dependent on South Africa to the extent that more than 70 percent of the food products in our shops are imported from our neighbour.
This is despite the fact that we are blessed with abundant water sources which South Africa is increasingly relying on to meet the needs of its major commercial hub, the Gauteng province.
Even Botswana is now seeking a share of our abundant water resources.
So it will be that in the coming years we will see dams constructed and piped water flowing past parched local villages on their way to South Africa and Botswana.
These local villages which remain without clean water could easily be turned into veritable green belts only if government and other stakeholders take the initiative to plan beyond dependence on the whims and caprices of the heavens to open up and provide rains.
It is imperative for government to begin a systematic process of planning to ensure that agricultural activities in the country are predictable, certain and can be conducted beyond the natural summer rain season. This is what will lead to food security in the country.
Such planning should result in water harvesting initiatives that can support irrigated crop production to ensure all-year production.
Water harvesting could also lead to aqua culture which would go a long way in solving the nutrition deficiencies which result from our obsession with the production of the maize crop which is only good for providing carbohydrates and not the balanced nutrition our bodies require for health and general well-being.
It is therefore our humble plea to the authorities to seriously consider investing more in terms of time, planning, preparedness and resources to ensure food and nutrition security.
Water harvesting is a critical component as it can also spur the growth of downstream industries including taking care of our energy requirements through hydro-electric power generation.
We should at least take a leaf from nations such as Israel.
The tiny Middle East country which is half the size of our kingdom is largely desert. But careful planning and investment in water harvesting infrastructure such as dams, have ensured that it is not only self-sufficient in terms of its water needs but also in terms of food production which is carried out all year round.