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Environmental pressure and land-use change in communal eastern Botswana: The case of Kgatleng

J.W. Arntzen and J.B. Opschoor
National Institute of Development Research and Documentation, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana


Historically, the crop and livestock activities of Botswana farming households were kept spatially separated. The stereotype way to describe this is to picture the village or town as the spatial core of the economic activities, around which (normally within walkable distance) the households' fields as well as the collectively operated ones would be situated. Beyond these fields would be the grazing areas where cattle would be kept in a semi-nomadic fashion, following the water and grazing, and, ultimately, the hunting areas. Lack of water or grazing, exhaustion of soils, and external threats could induce communities to abandon their settlements and migrate to new locations, to be organized along the same lines.

The colonial period (1895-1966) saw the introduction of fixed and secured boundaries, new technologies [double plough, borehole, etc.), external administrative influence, and the advent of social and cultural services (e.g. schools, health services, churches), which all were conducive to a more sedentary lifestyle. This trend continued and was reinforced after independence.

Schapera's study of land tenure among the Botswana in the late 1930s mentioned that spatially separated crop and cattle farming were still the rule. Schapera finds it necessary to draw the reader's attention to a photograph of a fenced field and he even notes that "one of the reasons given for the separation of arable lands from grazing is that it does away with the necessity of fencing'' (Schapera 1943, 174). Nowadays there are no pure crop areas left. One distinguishes now between general grazing land and mixed farming areas. The latter are predominantly arable areas where, however, cattle are kept thoughout the year. For this reason, fences around fields are nowadays a common practice.

This paper is concerned with some aspects of increasing spatially integrated mixed farming. We attempt to describe (1) which groups are participating in this process, (2) how it affects the access to environmental resources of these groups, and (3) what their prospects are. It is stressed that this paper focuses on developments in one type of land tenure only: the communal lands. Very briefly, the following section discusses some issues related to land tenure in general and resource management. The other sections all deal with communal areas in one of Botswana's districts: Kgatleng. Therefore, the section on Kgatleng summarizes the relevant features of this district. Next, the evolution of mixed farming is examined. This process is analysed in terms of advantages and disadvantages for the farmers, the socio-economic position of the farmers involved, and the access of these farmers to environmental resources. Finally, the position of mixed farming vis-a-vis Botswana's agricultural policy and the prospects of mixed farming are discussed. The paper is concluded with a summary.

The Kgatleng data are derived from two household surveys (Opschoor 1981) and two in-depth studies of changes in land use in two mixed farming areas, Boladu and Dinogeng (Opschoor 1980).

Land Tenure and Environmental Resources

The use and management of environmental resources (e.g. water and grazing and arable land) is of direct relevance to the present attained levels of productivity and even more so to the maintenance of the present or desired levels of production. The use and management of these resources is believed to be related to the type of land tenure. In Botswana, there are three main types of tenure: tribal land, subdivided inter alia into communal and commercial (only for cattle raising), freehold land (both crop production and cattle raising), and State land (basically used for non-agricultural purposes). The subdivision of tribal land has been recent (Hitchcock and Nkwe, 1986). Generally, changes in tenure, if any, occur slowly. They do not keep equal pace with the increased pressure on land and land-related resources. In Botswana, the population is growing very fast (totaling approximately 950,000 according to the 1981 census) and the national herd is growing at about same rate (at least a 40 per cent increase between 1972 and 1979). As a result, the need for effective control over resources has become even more urgent. However, some of the traditional control measures in communal areas broke down and before the land boards started to operate, there was no substitute. Schapera (1943) points at the existence of overseers, who used to be in charge of the grazing management in a small area. Farmers usually had to seek the overseer's permission to allow their cattle in the area, and if the area was perceived to be overgrazed, this overseer could compel farmers to restrict the number of their cattle. Nowadays, it is much more difficult to find any alternative grazing area and, in addition, there is no authority daring or willing to impose stock restrictions. As another example, the allocation system of arable fields became less controlled until the land boards started to operate. On a small scale, farmers allocated themselves fields, often near their cattleposts. The traditional separation between grazing and arable lands became more vague. As is discussed elsewhere (Machacha 1986), the land boards still face many problems impeding the fulfilment of their huge tasks. Moreover, they have not always had the popular support which the traditional authorities used to have on these issues. To summarize, increased pressure and a decrease in effective control over environmental resources have resulted in the breakdown of the former separation of grazing areas and crop production areas and in present-day problems like overgrazing. Meanwhile, agricultural production has remained at a low level.

Often the nature of communal tenure is blamed for poor management of the resources. Ex-chief Isang of the Bakgatla stated in 1930: "There is a lot more trouble regarding Native progression in this Protectorate because our reserves are communal property and with communal property nobody who is willing to progress can have freedom to use his progressive ideas'' (Schapera 1943, 126). Unfortunately, in many cases, one simply assumes that a change towards privatization will lead to better management (Botswana 1981). Restricting ourselves to the management of environmental resources, a prior assessment and ex post facto evaluation of the impacts of a change in land tenure is often not properly made. Two types of impact must be distinguished. First, one looks at the impacts on the area immediately affected by change in tenure. In Botswana, an example is available in the Tribal Grazing Land Policy ranches. Research has shown that the resources are not upgraded automatically. Herds are often managed in the same way as a herd of comparable size in the communal areas (Carl Bro Int. 1982). Second, one has to look at the impact outside the area initially affected. If people are excluded from using resources in a privatized area, they will increase the pressure on communal areas elsewhere. Given the reliance on environmental resources to find a living in rural areas, this will immediately affect the level of wealth of the rural population. Resources will be depleted faster and become more difficult to obtain. Therefore, a mere change towards private tenure does not necessly solve the problem of proper management of environmental resources. The fact that large variations in achievements exist within types of tenure underlines, first, that a change of tenure should never be introduced in isolation from a promotion of management improvements, among other things, and, second, that solutions for better control of the resources may be possible without a change in tenure.

Kgatleng District

Kgatleng is an area of 760,000 ha located in the eastern part of Botswana just north of Gaborone. The de facto population is 42,300 (1981), half of which is living in Mochudi. The district has only one small area designated to become a "commercial" cattle area, in the north-west, where a group ranching scheme is envisaged. Otherwise, there is only communal land. The southern part of the district, where 89 per cent of the population lives, was traditionally arable land, whereas the northern part used to be grazing land. Due to an expansion of the arable area into former grazing land and an increased tendency of keeping cattle in the arable land, this distinction is more vague these days.

The figure gives an impression of present zones of land use in the district. The mixed farming area can be estimated at roughly 160,000 ha, of which 108,000 ha are grazing land, with 75,000 ha pure grazing nearby. The southern part of the mixed farming area in particular shows poor grazing compared with the grazing lands.

Crop cultivation in communal Botswana is characterized by a low level of inputs (Lightfoot 1981). The low average level of rainfall in Kgatleng (450-550 mm annually) and the variation in rainfall together with the poor soil quality make crop farming a risky venture. Farmers in Kgatleng plough with tractors (54.8 per cent in 1980), cattle (40.4 per cent in 1980), or donkeys (11.5 per cent in 1980). Generally, they broadcast seeds (approximately 5 per cent practice row planting). Sorghum is the main crop. Maize, millet, and beans are important secondary crops. Melons and sunflowers are also grown.

Common implements for crop cultivation are ploughs (one and two furrow); harrows are used sometimes but cultivators and planters are hardly used. Weeding, crop rotation, and usage of purchased seeds are rather frequently practiced (57 per cent, 37 per cent, and 47 per cent respectively of crop farming households). Kgatleng is mainly a hardveld area. The main water sources are boreholes, dams, and haffirs/wells for household use and cattle. In addition, the Madikwe, a perennial river forming the eastern boundary of Kgatleng, is a major water source for cattle in that part of the district. The Notwane River rarely flows but holds water during the rainy season. The cattle population of Kgatleng is estimated to be 11,000, which puts the overall cattle density at less than 7 ha per beast: this is a high density both absolutely and relatively compared with other districts in Botswana.

FIGURE. Land-use zones in Kgatleng, Botswana

Mixed Farming: A New Strategy

At present, some 60 per cent of the estimated 80,000 farmers in Botswana combine some kind of crop production and livestock rearing (cattle and/or smallstock) (Litschauer and Kelly 1981, 6). This percentage is confirmed by Kgatleng findings: 60 per cent of all the farming households hold cattle and normally plough a field. However, this does not necessarily mean that these farmers also spatially integrate these activities throughout the year. In Kgatleng, varying with the season, 40 to 50 per cent of the mixed farmers keep cattle on the land. Over 20 per cent of all Kgatleng cattle can be found in these areas in winter; in summer, this goes up to 27 per cent (roughly 30,000 cattle). The activities of households without cattle (35 per cent of farming households) are by definition confined to the mixed farming areas.

Why do individual farmers decide in favour of mixed farming? The two studies in Boladu and Dinogeng show that the advantages of mixed farming are generally outweighed by one dominating, almost universal, disadvantage, namely, damage to the crops by cattle. Both in Dinogeng and Boladu 80 per cent of the farmers actually reported crop damage. The seriousness of crop damage is further substantiated by the increase in "damage cases" taken to the Kgotla (traditional court) in Mochudi and by the perceived need for fences separating grazing and arable lands. The advantages are less clear and less frequently mentioned. Most farmers perceive little advantage in keeping cattle on the lands. Incidental advantage such as draft power availability, milk availability, no need for herdboys, and the availability of free water (Boladu) are mentioned.

In Dinogeng, 80 per cent of the respondents report that there is enough grazing. Out of 30 households, nine keep (part of) their herds on the lands, of which five do so permanently. In contrast, most Boladu farmers complain about the lack of grazing. This difference in perception of the grazing conditions is reflected in the different categories of mixed farming (see figure). This difference has led us to hypothesize that perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of spatially mixed farming would be more pronounced in Boladu. And, indeed, over half of the farmers there saw no advantage in keeping cattle on the lands, and even of those who actually have cattle in Boladu, one-third saw no net advantage. The benefits (draft power and milk availability, better control over cattle, no need for herd boys) were outweighed by the costs (crop damage, periodic lack of grazing). Farmers with cattle in Boladu would agree that "cattle are troublesome" and that they do not want them there but were forced into this situation, for example, by lack of herd-boys, lack of money, and so on (Opschoor 1980, 1719). It thus becomes worthwhile to pay attention to the socioeconomic characteristics of farming households who practice mixed farming as opposed to those who do not.

Towards a Stratification of Rural Households

Although wealth in Botswana is strongly related to cattle ownership, it would be too rough to distinguish only betwen farmers with and without cattle. Since high crop yields and a formal job contribute also to household wealth, these factors are also included in the stratification. This results in three main strata (Opschoor 1981):

  1. households with (a) more than 40 cattle, and/or (b) harvests of 21 or more bags per member in a good year, and/or (c) with core members holding permanent jobs earning more than 50 pula per month. This stratum contains 31 per cent of all rural households in Kgatleng (1a and 1b: 13 per cent respectively; 1c: 5 per cent);
  2. households with 1-40 cattle and not otherwise qualifying for 1 (34 per cent of all households);
  3. households without cattle and either (a) ploughing (26 per cent of all households) or (b) nonploughing (9 per cent).

Table 1 shows some of the characteristics of the various strata and sub-strata. Stratum 1 households include the larger, cattle owners as well as the most effective crop farmers. These can manage reasonably to extremely well. Stratum 2 households have herds of vulnerable size in times of drought, they plough less and with noticeably less success. They cannot manage even in a normal year unless they sell cattle or supplement their incomes from non-agricultural sources. Stratum 3 households cannot survive on agricultural activity alone and do not.

By definition, arable activities of all households are confined to mixed farming areas. But whose cattle are grazing there? Most by far of the stratum 1 herds are kept in cattle post areas, accounting for 93 per cent of their cattle; the remaining 7 per cent graze in mixed farming areas and typically belong to the much smaller (1b) or (1c) herds. On the other hand, most stratum 2 herds are kept permanently on the lands, accounting for 40 per cent of all stratum 2 animals. Over 80 per cent of all herds found permanently in the mixed farming areas are stratum 2 herds (and, in fact, the smaller ones of that stratum).

TABLE 1. Production, employment, and other characteristics of Kgatleng households according to (sub) strata



Average herd size 1980 Average area ploughed 1980 (acres) Average no. of bags 1978 (70 kg) Percen- tage syndicate members Percen- tage tractor owners Percen- tage house- holds with employees in town Percen tage house- holds with employees in S.A. Percen tage households without senior male
1. Upper stratum
(a) Households with 40+ cattle 26 78.9 5.9 7.8 42.3 11.5 34.6 15.4 23.1
(b) Houesholds producing 2 bags per member 26 15.4 5.6 20.5 19.2 3.8 42.3 7.7 7.7
(c) Households with senior members' regular income of <P50/month 10 7.4 2.7 0.3 10 - 80 - 30
2. Middle stratum
Households with cattle, but not in stratum 1 68 19.1 4.2 3.6 5.8 - 45.2 20.6 17.6
3. Lower stratum
(a) Households without cattle producing < 2 bags per member 52 - 2.3 1.8 - - 44.2 15.4 26.9
(b) Households without cattle, not ploughing 18 - - - - - 44.4 - 44.4

Source: Opschoor 1981, p. 53.

In other words, the survey data point out that spatially mixed farming is a strategy that is typical for the less well-off farming households in Eastern Botswana: those with less than 40 cattle and relatively unproductive arable operations. Second, those with no cattle at all, that is, the poor households, are suffering from additional crop damage due to their less-poor mixed farming neighbours.

Access to Environmental Resources

We distinguish three resources: grazing, water, and land, and we will attempt to relate (changes in) access to these resources to socio-economic strata.

Assuming 20 to 30 per cent of all cattle to be in mixed farming areas, the grazing pressure in those areas ranges from 4.5-11.4 ha/per livestock unit (LU). In the grazing areas, pressure is 8.2 ha/LU or less. Bearing in mind that there is strong local variation in grazing pressure, one may conclude that cattle in mixed farming areas may find themselves in poorer grazing conditions. In terms of economic strata, this means that cattle of stratum 2 households are worse off compared with stratum 1 cattle (see table 2).

As far as crop production is concerned, a clear correlation has been found between economic strata and size of area ploughed (table 3). However, the available data do not allow a link between strata and fertility of fields. All that can be said is that stratum 1 farmers plough larger fields of the same soil quality in both old and new mixed farming areas. If we look at crop damage, the tendency towards mixed farming implies that stratum 3 farmers suffer from cattle without having cattle themselves.

TABLE 2. Distribution of livestock holding and cattle over grazing and mixed farming zones, by stratums

Zone Total hectarage x 1,000 Winter grazing Summer grazing Movements
Stratum 1 Stratum 2 Stratum 1 Stratum 2 Stratum 1 Stratum 2
1. Grazing along perennial rivers 49.5 No. of households 8 14 7 14    
Av. no. of cattle 53.8 23.7 58.1 23.7    
Av. distanceb 36 44.4 39.4 44.4    
Movements out         2 -
Movements inc         - -
2. Grazing away from perennial rivers 475.6 No. of households 24 15 21 15    
Av. no.of cattle 55.8 28.7 56.2 26.3    
Av. distanceb 40.2 27.7 42.4 27.2    
Movements out         4 5
Movements inc         - -
3-6.Mixed farming zones 234.9 No. of households 8 37 14 38    
Av. no. of cattle 17.25 13.9 22.7 14.6    
Av. distanceb 12.3 8.7 11.0 6.8    
Movements out         - 9
Movements inc         6 10

Source: Opschoor 1981, p. 58.

a. For households with all information available only.
b. Distance "as the crow flies" between centre of settlement and centre of grazing area (e.g. a borehole).
c. Number of herds having moved wholly or partly out of a zone and into another.

TABLE 3. Distribution of main fieldsa over mixed farming zones by stratum

Zone Total hectarage x1,000 Stratum 1 Stratum 2 Stratum 3 Total
3. Mixed farming near river, grazing/fields >5 22.5 No. of households 3 3 2 8
Av. area ploughed (ha) 7.5 5.1 3.6 5.6
Av. distance to lands area (km) 7.3 7 7 7
4. Mixed farming near river, grazing/fields <5 9.9 No. of households 7 9 9 25
Av. area ploughed (ha) 7.0 3.2 2.2 3.6
Av. distance to lands area (km) 7.7 8 7.2 7
5. Mixed farming away from river, grazing/fields >5 102.6 No. of households 8 9 7.2 25
Av. area ploughed (ha) 3.8 4.5 2.1 3.2
Av. distance to lands area (km) 22.3 10.2 15 15
6. Mixed farming away from river, grazing/fields <5 99.9 No. of households 30 37 29 96
Av. area ploughed (ha) 5.5 5.2 2.4 4.4
Av. distance to lands area (km) 11.9 11.8 11.8 11

Source: Opschoor 1981, p. 56.
a. Fields with all data available only.

As regards access to water, there are highly significant differences between strata 1 and 2 herds. Disregarding those who obtain water freely (e.g. from Madikwe River), stratum 1 households are distributed almost evenly between those who are syndicate members (i.e. a group of farmers owning a boreholel or water point owners, and those who must buy water. However, the 90 per cent of stratum 2 households that do not get their water freely must buy. The price per beast per month of that category is four times that of those who individually or collectively own a water point.

It is reported that syndicate boreholes tend to reduce their membership numbers. Since the watering fees do not discriminate for herd size, the smaller herd owners have higher costs for watering a beast; they are more likely to pull out of the syndicate and may consequently be forced out of the grazing lands. They can then only go to council boreholes and to the villages, that is, to the mixed farming area. This trend, if it does operate and persists, implies an important dynamic process, whereby increasing numbers of poorer farmers are going to be forced to work in increasingly poor environmental conditions.

We now turn to the third resource: land. Although Botswana is a large country with a small population, on a local level some signs of arable land shortage become manifest. Many farmers who wish to expand their fields cannot do so because these are surrounded by other fields. This can be illustrated by the decrease of arable land in Boladu. The year 1950 shows 18 per cent more arable land than 1980. Farmers had to look for larger fields elsewhere. On the contrary, a relatively new mixed farming area like Dinogeng, more remote from Mochudi, still shows a 17 per cent increase in recently ploughed land.

Currently, in a normal rainfall year, the mean area ploughed is approximately 4 ha, and the mean field size may be about 6 - 7 ha (table 3). Especially the smaller fields (stratum 3) are completely ploughed. Only one-third of the farmers holds 10 ha or more. If one aimed at allocating all farmers 10 ha of crop land, requirements would increase by about 33 per cent in Southern Kgatleng, and associated grazing requirements by about 25 per cent or an overall increased claim of over 25 percent. Part of this land might be found on the northern and eastern fringes of present mixed farming land, but basically new lands would have to be developed into the grazing areas. One may expect some alleviation of land shortage within the present arable land from a reuse of abandoned fields around villages. This requires a redistribution of those still claimed fields into large ones. However, the increased land demand considered here is small in comparison to that which is likely to follow from the population increase over the next decades (some 85 per cent up to 2,000).

To sum up, we find that access to environmental resources is unevenly distributed among farmers in the three socio-economic strata distinguished. This is particularly the case when we consider grazing and water. Access to land is different, as is shown by the difference in areas ploughed. This may in itself not reflect a basic inequality in terms of a discriminatory allocation process, but rather be the result of a demand for smaller fields given the availability of other resources (labour, wealth). We feel that the dynamics of population growth and syndicate policies may lead to severe stress, particularly in the older mixed farming areas, and especially to those strata who are forced to live and survive there.

Effects of Agricultural Policy

At the moment, there are two basic agricultural policies in Botswana: The Tribal Grazing Land Policy and the Arable Land Development Policy. This paper will be restricted to the aspects of these policies relevant to communal mixed farming areas.

The Tribal Grazing Land Policy, initiated in 1975, is a major rural development and land reform policy aimed at increasing livestock production, stopping overgrazing, and reducing income inequality. Areas which were zoned for commercial ranching were demarcated and are being allocated to individuals and small groups. Over 11 per cent of the total surface area of the country has been set aside for commercial ranching. A total of 302 ranches had been demarcated by the end of 1981, and 124 had been allocated out of which 54 farmers or groups had their lease signed (Hitchcock 1982). Since the process so far has not resulted in the anticipated relief of cattle pressure in communal areas, interest has now shifted directly to the communal areas. This is still mainly a declaration of intention. Recently, implementation has started with the introduction of fences and communal grazing cells. Instead of the common practice of fencing individual fields, projects have been started to separate grazing and arable lands in mixed farming areas (drift fences). At present, fences or plans for fences exist, to total a length of roughly 1,000 km (Willet 1981). The extent to which these fences will really show economic viability by sufficiently reducing crop damage is not yet clear. The location of the drift fence track is essential and determines to a large extent the impacts of the fence. In principle, grazing on the "crop side" is preserved for the winter period. However, if the fence reduces the grazing area, it may cause overgrazing there. This may be aggravated if farmers, freed from the fear of compensation claims for crop damage, no longer herd their cattle but allow them to roam around. The construction of the fence may also mean that water sources are cut off for use in the crop season. This may necessitate the construction of new water points. The ultimate net benefits depend also on the arrangements agreed upon by the farmers (for instance, when and how cattle are allowed on the "crop side") and the willingness to enforce them and maintain the fence properly.

Grazing cells are fenced-off pieces of communal grazing land to which people are to be given exclusive access. By proper management of the area, overgrazing and subsequent effects are to be avoided. Experiences with commercial ranches demonstrate that this is far from certain. At present, there is only one grazing cell in existence and farmers are not very willing to accept the grazing cells. Bekure and Dyson-Hudson (1982) list three reasons for this. First, communal land is already overstocked. Cutting out another piece of land aggravates the situation outside the grazing cells. Second, people do not see enough incentives to join. The stated aim of upgrading deteriorated grazing lands does not appeal strongly enough. At least it does not outweigh the grazing fee farmers have to pay. Third, grazing cells are to be run by a group of 1012 people.

The Arable Land Development Policy aims to raise crop productivity of small farmers (less than 40 cattle) by providing subsidies for water tanks, implements, draught power, and fences. Up till now, the majority of applications in Kgatleng have been for fences (stratum 3 households are excluded). This scheme was oversubscribed, resulting in additional 1981/82 arrangements for 10 loans. The importance of fencing is also illustrated in Dinogeng, where more than 60 per cent of all fields (85 per cent of last year's ploughed fields) have been fenced. Most fences consist of bush trunks (Acacia); wire fences are subsidized under the Arable Land Development Policy. The draught power scheme is meant for stratum 2 (oxen scheme) and stratum 3 (donkey scheme) farmers. The objective is to give these farmers direct access to their own draught power. The programme has been operating only for one year after a pilot phase. Therefore, it is really too early to evaluate the impact of the policy. In Kgatleng, farmers have shown an interest in the programme. However, farmers face difficulties meeting conditions for getting loans, although the situation has probably improved after a revision of the conditions in 1984 (85 per cent grant; 15 per cent down payment by farmers). Furthermore, data so far suggest that mainly the upper section of stratum 2 and strata 1b and 1c farmers have been reached under the policy (Opschoor 1981). A future evaluation should thoroughly check this statement. Such an evaluation should also reveal whether adoption of modern farming practices (the core of the policy) is at present the fundamental constraint for raising the yields/ha. It has been argued that better management in combination with present practices might lead to the same result (Lightfoot 1981).

Present agricultural policy appears to be only beginning to affect conditions in the mixed farming areas. The "communal" side of livestock policy is emphasizing drift fences, etc. Drift fences are clearly potentially beneficial to the stratum 3 farmers and lead to costs as well as benefits to the stratum 2 cattle holders that operate in the mixed farming areas. The crop farming stimuli emanating from the policy will probably benefit the richer farmers in mixed farming areas mostly, and thereby affect grazing pressure.

Prospects of Mixed Farming

If the total number of cattle continues to increase in the future, more stratum 2 herds may be pushed out of the grazing lands into the mixed farming areas. This would cause excessive cattle pressure in parts of the latter area, resulting in heavy overgrazing, bush encroachment, etc. This would also lead to conflict between stratum 2 farmers and the other farmers. Given the present extensive farming, the problem of land shortage will increase in future. This may produce some "conservative'' as well as "progressive'' processes and lead to social conflicts such as:

  1. fixation of claims by present landholders fencing off their fields, used or not. Fencing will continue rapidly. Most likely drift fences will be extended to all parts of Botswana (now mainly in Central District). Smaller landholders can only expand by applying for new fields in new lands areas. Those without land might have to remain without;
  2. penetration of arable land into grazing land. This would lead to a conflict of interest especially between stratum 1 a farmers and strata 1 b and 2 farmers. At present, the grazing lands are seen to be "full" by many cattle holders in Kgatleng district;
  3. technological change in an attempt to alleviate land shortage problems:
  1. continued substitution of tractor draught power for oxen/donkeys. An increase in the present tractor utilization rate by 75 per cent would reduce grazing land requirements near lands in the year 2000 by 60 per cent;
  2. more intensive farming methods (increasing yield/ha).

To conclude, if the present trends continue, it is to be expected that the number of conflicts between farmers will increase. Agricultural policy should be geared towards the reduction of the number of conflicts by improving both efficiency and management of crop production and cattle holding, taking into account the social impacts of the policies adopted.


Within the communal areas of Kgatleng district, there is a trend towards a spatial integration of crop production and cattle raising. This trend is not widely approved of by the farmers themselves. It has resulted in extensive crop damage by cattle and, especially in the southern part of the district, it means poorer grazing for their cattle. The main reasons for keeping cattle on the lands emanate from the households' socioeconomic situation: there is no manpower available to herd cattle separately; they are needed for draught power on the lands, etc. Nonaccess to water sources in grazing areas may be an additional reason. Farmers involved in mixed farming are typically the less well-off: less than 40 head of cattle and lower returns from crop production.

The emergence of mixed farming means that farmers involved in this type of farming are confined to only a part of the communal areas: the grazing areas are not used by them and only the better-off farmers use these areas. Grazing areas are thus becoming less communal, not because of legal restrictions in access but because of socioeconomic factors, forcing smaller farmers to spatially integrate their agricultural activities.

Government policy may relieve congestion in the mixed farming areas through the construction of drift fences. On the other hand, it may result in a further increase of livestock numbers in these areas. The trend towards mixed farming will continue. Therefore, government policies should pay serious attention to a reduction in the number of conflicts inherent in this farming system.


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Botswana. 1981. The Management of Communal Grazing in Botswana. Ministry of Agriculture, Ramatlabama.

Carl Bro. Int. 1982. An Evaluation of Livestock Management and Production, vols. I-III. Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana, and E.E.C.

Hitchcock, R. K. 1982. Tribal Grazing Land Policy, 1981 Programme Review. (TGLP Monitoring) Ministry of Agriculture, Gaborone.

Hitchcock, R. K., and T. Nkwe. 1986. "Social and Environmental Impacts of Agrarian Reform in Rural Botswana." Part 4, chapter 11, this volume.

Lightfoot, C. 1981. Broadcast Planting in Perspective. Ministry of Agriculture, Division of Agricultural Research, Sebele.

Litschauer, J. G., and W. F. Kelly. 1981. The Structure of Traditional Agriculture in Botswana. Planning and Statistics Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Gaborone.

Machacha, B. 1986. "Botswana's Land Tenure, Institutional Reform, and Policy Formulation." Part 2, chapter 4, this volume.

Maribe, M. 1982. Land Use and Farming in Dinogeng, 1950 1981. UCB, Gaborone. Forthcoming.

Opschoor, J. B. 1980. "Land Use and Farming in Boladu, 1950 1980." NM Research Notes No. 2. UCB, Gaborone.

________. 1981. "Environmental Resource Utilisation in Communal Botswana." NM Working Paper No. 38. UCB, Gaborone.

Schapera, l. 1943. Native Land Tenure in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Lovedale Press, Cape Town.

Willet, A. B. J. 1981. Agricultural Group Development in Botswana, Vol. /V. Ministry of Agriculture, Gaborone.

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