Aug. 26, 2022


3 min read

LENAFU welcomes govt subsidy

LENAFU welcomes govt subsidy

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Keketso Sello

Story highlights

    Farmers earnestly prepare for this year’s summer cropping
    Subsidy entails seeds to be used in fields and gardens

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A subsidy of farming inputs for this year’s summer cropping from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has heightened the spirits of members the Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU), which had been bogged down by the heavy recent rains.

The subsidy entails seeds to be used in the fields, gardens and weed killers which will be sold at a 70 percent discount while the price of fertilizers will see an 80 percent cut.

The subsidy will, however, not cover ploughing costs.

LENAFU programmes manager, Khotso Lepheana said the financial aid would enable farmers to kick start their planting activities with ease as the farming inputs would be available at affordable costs.

He, however, advised the ministry to closely collaborate with LENAFU in order to ensure that essential information filters through to the farmers on time.

“The government should always engage us so that we in turn could help sensitise the farmers at all levels on what the government is offering,” Mr Lepheane said, adding: “We have been relegated to the receiving end.”

“That way, they government will have decentralised the availability of farming inputs to cut transport costs for those who will be buying and later selling to the farmers.”

Because there is no subsidy on transport costs, traders who buy and sell farming inputs to farmers are likely to incur more expenses, he said.

This, he said could possibly take the farmers back to the 60% subsidy not the intended 80%.

“At the moment, we are not even sure how many inputs have been distributed to the districts so that we could inform the farmers,” he said.

For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Keketso Sello said the government has made good progress in collecting seeds and fertilizers for the summer cropping season to commence.

Seeds, he said, would be readily available countrywide at the ministry's district offices while garden seeds and weed killers would be sold at the main warehouse in Ha Foso, Berea.

Mr Sello said the on-going war between Russia and Ukraine had escalated the price of agricultural equipment, hence, funds allocated to the ministry this year were relatively insufficient to buy all the necessary items.

“The ministry was therefore unable to enter any agreements with our regular suppliers like we did in the previous years. We are obliged to share the little that we have so that all could benefit,” he said.

In the midst of all these challenges, the minister asked for cooperation from all local farmers.

He appealed to farmers who own planting equipment to stick to stipulated prices, urging all to work hard for the betterment of farming in Lesotho.

Due to the heavy rains that the country experienced throughout last summer, the previous harvest was tremendously poor.

“Weeding was unsuccessful owing to the heavy rains, hence the past yield was poor. Crops produced were yellowish in colour and stunted.”

Chairperson of the Leribe Farmers Association, Daniel Chakela said most of the beans that were produced were destroyed by the heavy water.

“This is something we did not have much control over, the climate change is playing rude tricks on us,” he said.

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Mr Chakela said after investing so much in the past season, their returns were awfully low.

“I personally lost everything after planting beans on a 40-acre land,” he said.

’Matseleng Keele from Tasty Food Packers in Maputsoe said they received a relatively low supply of beans from the farmers this year.

“We normally buy sugar beans from farmers countrywide. Our preference is Grade A beans in any given quantity,” she said.

Mrs Keele said they need dry and clean beans that they could simply package for sale.

“But this time around, things were not normal and most of the beans we bought from farmers had dents and most of them were wet,” she said.

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