MASERU – Local farmers from the two districts of Berea and Leribe are now more motivated than ever before after earning M1 million through the sale of beans and maize meal products to the World Food Programme (WFP) recently.
Out of all the 57 members of Temo-Moho Agriculture Association from the two districts, more than half, or 35, benefited through WFP sales according to the member of the association Mamahlape Ntsapi.
Of these beneficiaries, 17.1 percent were female farmers.
“We sold beans to WFP in two batches and in the first batch we sold 26 tons which amounted to M484 000. On the second batch we sold M572 bags of 50 kg which is 28.6 tons and these amounted to M514 000.
“So, the total tons sold were 54.6 and the total bags of 50kg were 1, 092. Therefore, the total amount of money paid to farmers was around M1 million and indeed we are really privileged to have worked with WFP and we are looking forward to working together for more years to come,” Ntsapi revealed on Wednesday during the presentation of the new strategic plan by WFP for the next five years, confirming that there was indeed a great change in their lives as farmers.
Last year, WFP which has religiously supported the country’s school feeding programmes over the years, decided to procure its food donations locally instead of importing food items whose costs increased because of transport and logistics.
The shift is part of initiatives to empower local farmers while also giving them an incentive to increase their productivity.
WFP introduced a programme where the organisation works with small holder farmers in the country in making sure that their products are linked to the market in supporting the school feeding initiatives in the country through locally produced but healthy products.
The international donor initially provided support in the training of up to 400 farmers in areas of procurement processes that includes pricing and basics in post-harvest handling and storage of the products.
All the farmers who undergone training came from the six farmer organisations in the country and 34 percent of them were women.
So far WFP has bought 270 tons of beans and 3, 800 tons of maize meal through the local produce, according to Likeleli Pholo from WFP.
“We are committed to assisting the most vulnerable populations. In terms of producing food WFP is also interested in helping vulnerable farmers to make sure that their production is linked to the market as well as making sure that during production, food waste is taken care of.
“It also helps them in terms of diversifying the crops that they produce which at the end of the day will help towards improving nutrition,” Pholo said in her presentation on Wednesday.
From January 2018 to June 2019 WFP has been implementing a transitional interim country strategic plan which had four strategic outcomes.
The first was to address chronic food insecurity in Lesotho by making sure that households and communities are able to have food and can meet their basic food and nutrition requirements throughout the year and even in terms of shock.
The second one talks to school feeding where the organisation provides school meals for free for primary and primary schools to ensure children have access to nutritious food throughout the year.
The organisation also looks to improve the nutritional status of children while saving lives during times of crises.
“Now in a snap shot, the overall achievement of WFP in this project reached around 250 000 beneficiaries through different interventions that we did. We delivered assistance in the form of cash transfers where we provided about US$540 000 to our beneficiaries,” Pholo added.
Under the new strategic plan WFP will, among others, strengthen the government’s capacity to manage and implement models that link smallholder farmers to school feeding and other markets and enable the equitable participation of men and women in these markets.