From Agribusiness Network Lesotho Management Desk
Hello Everyone! It is a great honour and pleasure for me to introduce you to the first issue of the Agribusiness Network Magazine. The launch of this magazine dedicated to the local Agricultural sector has been long overdue.
The magazine has come out in response to the dire need of an additional option for publications that are dedicated to certain sectors of our economy, as opposed to breaking news that appear in both print and digital media in our country. I am looking forward to working closely with all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. I strongly encourage all those in the field to submit their articles to our magazine and any other proposal of cooperation. The purpose of this magazine is to enhance farming, inform, guide and cover all stories related to Agriculture in Lesotho and abroad.
Over the past three decades, the structure of Lesotho’s economy has changed significantly. Agriculture, which is the pillar of the rural economy and the sector that employs most of the poor, has been on downward trajectory since 1990s. As a result, its contribution to Lesotho’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been declining. Between 1985 and 1994, it shrunk from 11.8 to approximately 7.2 percent, and today makes up around 5 percent of GDP.
The arable subsector is primarily concerned with rain-fed cereal production, while stock farming involves extensive animal grazing, wool and mohair production, as well as fast growing aquaculture industry. Output from arable farming has decreased over years, and today the livestock sector has expanded to make up some 62 percent of the agricultural sector.
Constraints related to domestic agricultural production include limited use of irrigation and technology, weak extension systems, sub-standard marketing infrastructure, poor access to markets for small producers, insecure land tenure and land degradation, in addition, the sector has struggled with effects of climate change, such as unpredictable weather conditions, marked by inconsistent rains and persistent droughts.
According to International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in its Rural Poverty portal, only 10 percent of the total land in Lesotho is arable. The majority of the smallholder farmers live on what they can produce from cultivating an average of less than 1.5 hectares of land or from herding livestock on grazing land that is increasingly degraded and hit by extreme weather events.
These set of challenges makes Lesotho a net food importer. In an average year, about two thirds of the cereal utilized is imported, leaving the economy susceptible to exogenous shocks and food prices fluctuations.
There is a pressing need to commercialize agriculture in Lesotho, and the government has prioritized this as an important part of its growth strategy. Efforts to promote investment has been intensified, with agro opportunities to be found in crop farming, aquaculture, horticulture, livestock and food processing.
In spite of current climatic and structural challenges, the sector does hold immense potential to drive economic growth through generating employment and reducing poverty levels. Current efforts to strengthen the agricultural sector rest on sustainable commercialism and diversification, as well as development of integrated value chains and market infrastructure. Medium term priorities include increasing cereal crop production and enhancing food and nutrition security.
To reduce dependency on imports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security aims to ensure that inputs are available on time thereby enabling farmers so as to increase production to at least meet local demand for staple food products. Relevant technical advice is provided to farmers so as to increase agricultural production and productivity as well as improve nutrition.
Furthermore, the spotlight on the increasing production of high value crops, livestock and cottage industry products through programs that support improving the quality of wool and mohair, processing of food crops (food preservation) and livestock products, and those that encourage commercialization process.
In addition to increasing farming incomes in the face of prevailing climatic condition, development of the value chain for high value products will be essential for sustaining commercialization. This focuses on strengthening extension services for farmers at all levels as well as improving training modules, developing and promoting agricultural technologies.
The Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Profile launched in May 2018 in Maseru aims to improve the integration of agricultural development and climate responsiveness in order to achieve food security and broader development goals. This will assist in minimizing climate change impacts for agricultural development and will advance CSA in the public agenda, raising awareness of the importance of investing in technologies and practices that simultaneously increase agricultural productivity, adaptation and mitigation.
Livestock diseases and parasites, as well as crop pests such as army worm and diseases like fungi, have an adverse effect on agricultural production. Current control and strategies include continuous of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and awareness campaigns concerning possible pests and mechanisms for controlling them. This control measures will safeguard public health by tracking animal disease transmission to humans and protecting consumers from food-related health issues (Lesotho Review, 2015)
I must say, the journey to this day of the launch has not been easy at all. I would like to thank God my Creator for patience and hope I have always had even when the odds were heavily against me, the Agribusiness Network Lesotho team; Karabo Letooane, Ncheme Mokati, Maduna Jiyane Mfodisi, Jabu Mabena, Nchafatso Polihali, Lebohang Motsekeli, Lekhanya Nkhabu and friends; Mr. Khofu Tjabaka, Motsucs Thee, Thabo Chele and Sello Malefane for their selfless dedication and support in ensuring that my dreams do come true. My former partner at Letsibolo Poultry Farm for the experience she gave me. My gratitude goes also to my wife, Maleseli Polihali, my son, Leseli Polihali, my brother, Jonas Polihali and my God given sister Vivian Williams for always encouraging me mostly during difficult times of failure, rejection and despair.
Katleho ena ea thakholo ea leselinyana lena ke e lebisa ho lelapa leso ele ho bonts’a teboho eaka ea boikokobetso ho tsoa botebong ba pelo eaka ka ts’ehetso e sa thekeseleng kholisong eaka le monyetla oo ba mphileng ona oa thuto maemong a thata a bofumanehi. Ke motlotlo hape ka ntate moholo oaka, Ntate Mokete Polihali (Moea oa hae o phomole ka Khotso) ka hore ke eena a ileng a nkenya cheseho ea temo le ho ntlhoisa ho hiroa ka ha a ne a tloaetse ho bua mantsoe ana ho nna “Monna ho hiroa ke bokhoba.” O ne a phela ka ho rekisa litholoana le meroho, liperekisi, mampolokose le liapole, mme ene e re kamehla ha ke leleketsoe school fees ebe kea mo motlalehela, o ne asare o emetse mafelo a khoeli,o ne a kenya letsoho pokothong ebe o mpha chelete hore keeo lefa. Mme kamehla ha re ne re tsoa sekolong re ne re lokela ho ea noesetsa meroho masimong le jareteng e pela lapeng. Ho na le ntho eo ke sa e lebaleng le ka mehla, o ne a mpolelle hore o ne a kila a hana monyetla oa ho ba letona la temo mme taba eo ene re koatisa haholo hobane re ne re lumela hore mohlomong bophelo bo ka be bo le bonolo hoja a ne a ile a lumela ho nka monyetla o joalo. Leha ho le joalo, leha kene ke utloa a entse phoso ka ho hana mosebetsi kaha ke ne ke lumela hore ho fumana mosebetsi ke ho phema mathata, kajeno ke lumellana le ena hore ho sebetsa ke bokhoba. Kajeno ntate moholo o sietse bana ba hae litholoana le liemahale tseo likabeng lile siko hoja a hiroa. Bana ba hau baka se fumane lefa la mosebetsi (Position) oa hau, ha u feta ho lena la ba utloang, le pele masapo a hau a bolokoa hotlabe ho fumanoe motho a tlatsang sekheo sahau mosebetsing oa hau , eseng ka ngoana hau joalo ka li mmaeneng, empa ka motho e mong. Bana bahau le bao o ba hlokomelang bophelo ba bona botla boela morao.
In conclusion, I would like to urge our young and the old to devote themselves in farming because I believe farming is the future and young people have potential to make this country great and better. However, I must admit and caution our people that, business is not easy but possible.