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The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Nthabiseng Makoae says the country has achieved a number of milestones through China-Lesotho JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project.

This, she said at the promotion seminar of China-aid JUNCAO held at Chinese Embassy in Maseru on Friday. The promotion seminar aim was to promote mushroom and JUNCAO grass production under the auspices of China-aid JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project.

She said the Chinese expert team has in the past given guidance and trainings to the local mushroom technicians and farmers as well as technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture.

She added that a centre mother unit was established at Masianokeng and is used as a mushroom demonstration base for provision of high quality spawn (mushroom seed) to the mushroom growers in Lesotho.

However, she said although over the years mushroom farming has shown to have potential for supporting the socio-economic development and in turn addressing the problem of poverty and unemployment particularly among women and the youth, the challenge has been that of continuity and sustainability.

She stated that each phase ended, experts left and funding also ended, indicating that the third phase ended in 2015 and production of mushroom declined due to lack of spawn availability.

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Small Businesses, Cooperatives and Marketing, Mr. Chalane Phori said the success of JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project equates a success to the sustainability of micro, small and medium enterprises because when there is a yield in agrarian sector, his Ministry chips in.

He stated that when farmers harvest, the ministry's role is to seek flourishing market so that the products are sold and thereafter income is earned.

He therefore commended the government of China through the Chinese Embassy on its enthusiasms and undying support it had manifested in the interest of Basotho.

The Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Dr Sun Xianghua said the embassy will work tirelessly to encourage and help the small and micro JUNCAO practitioners in Lesotho.

He said the embassy will look into its own budget and try to come up with a financial incentive programme.

“We will discuss the arrangements and details with the Ministry of Small Businesses and that of Agriculture” he said.

Again, he expressed believe that what other countries achieved through this project will be realised in Lesotho and they will make it successful like other Chinese programmes implemented in the country in the areas of public health, infrastructure, education and culture among others.

One of the farmers, Mr. Motlomelo who produce JUNCAO grass said the latter is easy to grow and do not have to be replanted.

He added that it is drought resistant but has to be watered the first 10 days after it has been planted.

He mentioned that it also prevents soil erosion, urging members of the public to discourage grazing of animals on the veld.

China-aid JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project started in 2007 in the country.


Source: LENA 09/02/2018


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