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The Prime Minister, Mr. Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane says it is high time the country provides food for itself instead of buying it from other countries.

This, he said when addressing block farmers at the meeting held in Maseru on Thursday. The meeting aimed at discussing food production and share ideas on what the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition can do to promote food production as well as to share achievements, challenges and map the way forward.

Mr. Matekane said a report from the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition

shows that 70 percent of food is imported from South Africa, saying the country has for a long time been faced with a challenge of hunger and poverty and that the inability of Lesotho to provide food for herself tarnishes her image.

“We have the productive land to produce food hence failure to provide for ourselves makes Lesotho to be a beggar,” he said.

He added that in the 2023/2024 financial year, the government prioritised agriculture as it is the backbone of Lesotho’s economy hence the implementation of block and commercial farming.

He noted that the government subsidised farming inputs and provided a 30 percent subsidy in financing farm machinery, urging farmers to work jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture to amongst others analyse subsidy policy, ensure farming inputs are bought on time, make plans together and inform the ministry when things do not go well.

He further noted that when his government came into power, 222 719 hectors of food grains were being ploughed, saying they added with 55 hectors in 2023 making a total of 278 000 hectors.

He therefore emphasised that they intend to plough 360 000 hectares in the next financial year, 2024\2025.

Amongst other issues that were raised by farmers during discussions included the enactment of irrigation policy, the Ministry’s failure to implement plans and strategies, congestion at resource centres for collection of farming inputs as well as travelling costs to collect them.

One of the farmers and former Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Litšoane Litšoane warned the ministry of companies which take advantage of the subsidy provided by the government but fail to sell quality seeds.

“Seeds must come with a blue label to indicate that it is certified not the white one” he said.

He therefore urged the ministry to do research before farming to ensure crops are of good quality.

He also said as the government will soon present budget estimates, the Minister of Agriculture should resume the procurement process for farming inputs immediately after to avoid delay.

Meanwhile the Ministry shared with farmers it’s objectives, achievements, challenges and priorities during the meeting.

Reports indicate that 60,000 Basotho are experiencing hunger and poverty.


Source: LENA 09/02/2024