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The Prime Minister (PM), Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane says the development of a market centre is in line with the economic policy of the government to expand productive capacity, diversify export products and markets.

Dr Thabane was speaking at the official launching and handing over of the market centre at Ha Tikoe in Maseru on Friday.

''This development is also a quest by government to accelerate job creation and poverty reduction in general, particularly amongst the youth and women'', he said.

He said the centre will manage inclusive supply chain services linking producers of fresh fruits and vegetables to domestic and international markets. 

He thanked the development partners that assisted with technical and financial support towards the development of the centre that will help to increase and preserve agricultural produce in the country.

The Prime Minister said to ensure a long term sustainability of the facility, the intension is for the market centre to be run by a private operator, adding that the Lesotho National Development Corporation, which is the investment promotion arm of the government will take lead in sourcing out a private operator to run the centre.

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Tefo Mapesela said the market centre will manage inclusive supply chain services, linking producers of fresh fruits and vegetables to domestic and international markets. 

He appealed to Basotho to utilise the centre for purpose it has been developed for in order to market their production of fruits and vegetables.

Also speaking was the Chief Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Ms. Arancha Gonzalez who said Lesotho is at a turning point of the economic transformation which will be achievable on the good use of the centre amongst others.

She said the country is moving at the right direction into the value addition activities as well as to enhance young entrepreneurs to thrive.

She said development of the market centre is an indication that commercial agriculture is possible in Lesotho, adding that ITC has assisted in the development of the market centre in other countries but aim to assist in making one opened in Lesotho the best for reference in Southern African region and beyond.

The Executive Director of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), Mr. Ratnakar Adhikari said to indirectly connect farmers to buyers this new market is a truly promising initiative. 

He commended Lesotho and other partners for the move to increase incomes and enhance opportunities for fruit and vegetable exports including to the regional market.

Business, government and international partners worked together to make the market centre a reality. In December 2016, LNDC leased a factory shell at Ha Tikoe Industrial Estate to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to set up the market centre. 

It was built as part of the Agriculture Productivity and Trade Development project under the EIF and was implemented by ITC in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and Ministry of Small Business Development, Co-operatives and Marketing.

The value of the equipment installed at the centre is estimated to be $2 million which is equivalent to M24 million.


Source: LENA 09/03/2018



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