Start preparations now, PM urges farmers

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LINEO MABEKEBEKE

MASERU – Farmers have been urged to start preparations for the winter cropping season as this is the right time to plant wheat. Speaking at the launch of a government-backed winter cropping programme at Kolonyama Ha Manama, Leribe, where farmers were shown improved farming techniques, Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane advised them to implement new methods of growing crops. He said it is important that farmers plant winter crops now because wheat can survive all types of weather conditions.

Matekane further said farmers need to adapt to all the changes in the season, saying the government will support all the initiatives to ensure that Basotho get into agriculture, so that they can have food security. “I urge you to invest more in agriculture, as it a secure investment for the country’s economic growth,” he explained. Matekane also appealed for re-introduction of the block farming system, which he said is not a new agricultural development initiative in the country.

He therefore expressed hope for increased food production among farmers, and to ensure food availability for the people. Also on display at the event were tractors provided by local farmers for the programme, and the expectation is that the machines will be used in winter cropping in this district to beat food insecurity in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, Thabo Mofosi, speaking at the same event, said they want to promote climate-resilient farming methods and also teach farmers to adapt to changing weather. He said it is time that farmers practice modern farming more than it before in order to produce. On behalf of the owners of the tractors, Tlali Lekhela, said as tractor owners from Leribe district they are glad to have been given the opportunity to take part in the programme and to realise that everyone is welcome to participate in production of winter wheat and other crops.

He urged community members to work together to protect the equipment, to benefit them and ensure good production. He further promised that if they work together on producing in large quantities now, the following year will be a better year, because there will be knowledge and experience on how to produce.

Manager at New Holland Tractors South Africa, Alan Gunning, said their equipment is of high quality, therefore, they are here to help farmers in Lesotho.  He appealed to Basotho to make use of them, their technology, brands and all that can assist them to make better produce. He added: “New Holland is the world’s leader in the field of agricultural machinery including agricultural tractors, therefore Basotho should make use of us.”

One beneficiary farmer, ‘Molaoa Theko, said farming is always viewed as an all year round occupation, which they as farmers have to always put efforts in order to produce the best they can. He said they are delighted for block farming to be happening in their fields, as a result, they are going to work hard to produce. Theko said although it is a tough occupation even at the best times and when conditions are favourable, they are confident that through the block farming initiative that the government is undertaking, they are going to be able to produce more.

He said they are glad as a district to launch winter cropping because they did not have to wait for the cold weather to pass in order to grow crops. “In hot or cold weather, we need to grow crops so that we are able to feed our families, and also be able to sell,” he said. He said they are going to use whatever it takes to increase their winter production and then be able to produce in large quantities.

Experts in machinery were engaged to teach farmers how to use different types of machinery during the launch. This was said to be done because farmers do not know how to use agricultural equipment, hence in some cases agriculture produce is not successful.

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