Botswana Institute of Development and Policy Analysis (BIDPA) has warned that the government food rations program targeting the needy, is discouraging subsistence agriculture and this has resulted with declining output from subsistence farming. In a study to investigate the impact of public transfers, particularly cash and food on subsistence crop production in Botswana, the government research tank said while government food rations given to the poor and vulnerable groups are improving household welfare, they have adversely affected subsistence farming.
BIDPA Executive Director Tebogo Seleka said households receiving government and private food rations have less incentive to grow food crops due to the increased availability of food at family level as food deliveries are directly substitutable for subsistence crop production.
“Results reveal that social pensions have impacted positively on the cultivated area, but have had no impact on cereal yields and output. However, government food rations have impacted adversely on cultivated area, yields and output. They are a disincentive to crop production because they are relatively more sizable, consistent and certain.
This, it is argued, is because food packages are directly substitutable for subsistence crop production,” said Seleka. The Agricultural Economist said public policy in Botswana should consider moving away from food to cash transfers to minimize such disincentive effects. More details here. (Echo Newspaper: 16 May 2014)