Likhothola farm provides options for Lesotho

BOKANG MOHAJANE

The agricultural sector plays a strategic role in the process of economic development of any country. It has already made a significant contribution to the economic prosperity of advanced countries and its role in the economic development of less developed countries cannot be overemphasized. Lesotho is not an exception to the use agricultural projects to pursue government’s development agenda on commercial horticulture.

This is done through implementation of the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversifi cation Project (PSCEDP) which is funded by the World Bank. PSCEDP has made it possible for the Government of Lesotho to realise its policy of commercial horticulture, especially in deciduous fruit production, by establishing a commercial orchard of 10.7 hectares at Mahobong in Leribe district.The World Bank funded Likhothola Fruit Farm produces early variety tree crops that are not only locally consumed but also exported in some parts of South Africa.

The establishment of this commercial orchard has improved lives of people who live in Mahobong and other parts of Lesotho by creating employment and providing income through different levels in the whole value chain of the fruit industry. The potential that Lesotho has in commercial fruit production was echoed by the Executive Director for the World Bank Group (WBG) Mr Andrew N Bvumbe during his visit to Likhothola farm on Friday 23 February 2018.

Journalists from different media houses, together with senior government officials and officers from Maseru’s World Bank office accompanied Bvumbe Likhothola farm provides options for Lesotho on the visit to the farm. It was heart-warming to find out that Lesotho has a competitive advantage over South Africa as some of the varieties ripen two to three weeks earlier which enables the country to get premium price.

Bvumbe acknowledged the project’s success and promised that the private sector arm of the World Bank will work with the PSCEDP project team to attract an anchor investor into the industry. He further indicated that he felt proud to realise how World Bank has changed people’s lives through this initiative and also to learn that the farm is entirely run and managed by Basotho.

Likhothola Farm is the first pilot commercial orchard established under the PSCEDP Project to diversify sources of economic growth.The law stipulates: “The pertinent issue here in making this appointment, the Speaker shall appoint the leader of opposition party or coalition of parties having the next greatest numerical strength.” Motanyane said the distinguishing factor between the coalition government with the one proposed by the opposition was that they had been formed before the legislators were sworn into parliament.

The wellestablished farm, which is in its fourth year of production, is owned by nine farmers who consolidated their individual land holding into one commercial plot and registered a company.By diversifying into commercial fruit farming, Lesotho reduces its reliance on the textile manufacturing sector that has been a major economic growth engine for the past two decades.

The successes of Likhothola farm have transformed other strategic areas in Lesotho into a major producer of early variety tree crops by applying lessons learned from it.Two more commercial farms were, as a result, established in 2015 and these are Mahobong II farm with 15.6 heacters and Likhetlane farm with 15.2 hectares.

Likhothola Fruits Farm is a living testimony to the fact that a lot can be achieved when people’s visions are geared towards a common goal and through this project economic empowerment and diversifi cation were achieved.The initiative also showcases what people can achieve when they have passion and believe that when they pursue their aspirations with all hands on the deck, nothing is impossible.

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