Masopha highlights blueprint towards food security


MASERU – Captains in the agriculture sector are urging Basotho to actively participate in farming in order to boost production in Lesotho and achieve food security. Lereko Masopha, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, said in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week that the ministry’s primary goal is to motivate Basotho to embrace farming.

Those already involved in farming are encouraged to enhance their production. Masopha said: “We encourage Basotho to engage in farming through advocacy and by assisting farmers in procuring inputs.  “In addressing the unemployment challenge, we help people transition to agriculture so that we not only ensure food security but also increase production for both consumption and sale.”

Highlighting the importance of producing valuable foods, particularly vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers, and mushrooms, Masopha underlined the need for financial and material support.  The Ministry of Agriculture has implemented a series of projects to aid farmers in this regard.

“We have projects that assess farmers’ performance and provide support in terms of capacity building,” Masopha said.

Three key projects are aiding farmers. These include the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) that focuses on enhancing the quality and quantity of wool and mohair production by addressing challenges in nutrition, breeding, and health. Masopha detailed the initiatives undertaken by WAMPP, including the construction of standard shearing sheds, the provision of water and electricity, and improving accessibility through better roads.

Secondly, the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) aims to support the adoption of climate-smart agricultural technologies and facilitate market-oriented production. Farmers interested in assistance submit proposals but they are expected to contribute 25% of the required funds or providing alternative valuations, such as property.

The third project, the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA), is a regional initiative supported by World Bank-International Development Association (IDA) credits.  Initially launched in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, it now includes Lesotho and Angola.

Collaborating under the APPSA project, Lesotho focuses on horticulture-based farming systems, while Angola specialises in cassava-based systems.

The project involves joint technology generation, dissemination, and training activities among Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) plays a vital role, addressing crops, livestock, natural resources, food technology, seed development, agricultural engineering, farming system research, and extension coordination under the APPSA project.

Masopha outlined the research aspects, such as ensuring fortified seeds, conducting seed and soil testing, and issuing licences to sellers.  He emphasised the importance of proving the safety and quality of produce for retail, highlighting the need for a research letter, especially for outlets like Shoprite.

“APPSA aims to diversify food production and collaborate with seed-producing farmers. The ultimate goal is for Lesotho to become self-sufficient in seed production,” Masopha also said.  

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