The annual budget for the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has increased four-fold since 2006, this is according to a report by Botswana College of Agriculture Consultancy Company which was doing consultancy on the ‘Poverty and Social impact Analysis of the ISPAAD’ for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2012.
The government’s Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), which many have questioned its sustainability, is said to have been allocated more than half of the budget allocated for the entire Ministry.
“Generally, the actual expenditure on ISPAAD exceeded its budget allocation. On average, it constituted more than 80 per cent of budget allocation for the Department of Crop Production (DCP), and more than half of the budget allocated for the Ministry of Agriculture. These budget proportions are expected to increase while government funding remains unchanged or declines over time. The ratio of annual proceeds per unit outlay spent on ISPAAD is less than unity. The Net Present Value (NPV) of ISPAAD operations is negative while the Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) is also less than unit. Therefore, ISPAAD is unsustainable in the long run,” states the report.
It further reveals that the annual budget for the Ministry increased almost four-fold between 2006 and 2013. It rose from about P105 million in 2006 to P209 million in 2008 (inception year for ISPAAD) and finally reached P407 million in 2013. The budget for the DCP rose from P10 million in 2006 to P89 million in 2008 and finally P286 million in 2013. Expenditure on ISPAAD also rose from P159 million in 2008 to P220 million in 2013. Actual expenditure on ISPAAD exceeded budget allocations for three consecutive cropping seasons since its inception.
The report also indicated that spending on ISPAAD operations consumed financial resources that exceeded the DCP budget by more than two-folds at inception. However, the share remained at about 80 per cent of DCP budget for the subsequent financial years. The largest share of expenditure on ISPAAD is attributed to the ploughing component which accounted for almost 70 per cent of annual expenditure on ISPAAD.
The consultants have indicated that administrative costs of ISPAAD amounted to P20 million (about 9 per cent of total spending on ISPAAD). These costs declined to an average of P11 million in the subsequent years, representing six per cent of total annual spending on ISPAAD.
“Overtime payments and subsistence allowance accounted for 52 per cent of administration costs in 2008/09. However, that share increased to an average of 77 per cent in the subsequent years. Government payments as loan interest subsidy averaged P2.5 million per cropping season. Annual expenditure on ISPAAD operations exceeded annual proceeds (estimated total value of production) in all the cropping seasons since inception,” reads part of the report.
The consultants have also realised that ISPAAD does not distribute seed according to land suitability zones for each crop, as the majority of farmers received maize seed and grew it in areas not suitable for the crop. This resulted in high incidence of crop failure and a reduction in yield.
The findings also show that youth participation in ISPAAD is very low, with only about 8 per cent of beneficiaries aged 18-29 having participated in the programme.
The consultants have recommended that the programme could be greatly improved by changing or fine tuning its design and benefit packages to make ISPAAD become more targeted, efficient and sustainable.
The agree that ISPAAD packages are reaching groups that are vulnerable to poverty. These include the elderly, the uneducated and women. However, “given that ISPAAD has not been able to increase grain yield, these groups remain food insecure. In its current form, ISPAAD is not likely to alleviate these vulnerable groups from poverty as envisioned in Vision 2016,” they observed.
Meanwhile, the Director of Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, Dr Tebogo Seleka could not give Gazette Business a comment on the report.
However, he indicated that his institution is also working on a technical study on the same programme. “I am working on a technical study on ISPAAD which will amongst other areas focus on the impact of area planted, total production and yield. We will also focus on its design looking at international experiences, and whether this can be a successful programme,” he said. The study, he said, is expected to be out early next year.