Dairy farmers lament forbidding production costs



MASERU – Some dairy farmers from Roma have expressed concern over the costs they incur to and from the nearest milk collection centre at Mazenod. The Manonyane Dairy Association is grappling with a persistent challenge where their Roma-based farmers have to endure lengthy trips to the Mazenod collection centre outside Maseru, which is not only time consuming but expensive.

Determined to alleviate this burden, the association embarked on constructing its own milk collection centre. Mosiuoa Boroko, the secretary of the association, highlighted the collaborative effort between their association and the Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB) in realising this endeavour. “Despite successfully establishing the collection centre, we have encountered a setback in its operation due to insufficient funds for erecting a perimeter fence.

“While the facility boasts essential amenities like water and electricity, we now appeal to the LNDB for assistance in completing the fence construction. We remain hopeful that with their support, the centre can commence operations promptly,” he said. LNDB was established to drive the marketing chain infrastructure development activities through a legal framework, the Agricultural Marketing Act 246 of 1991.

The dairy outfit was formed to assist Lesotho’s dairy industry through marketing chain infrastructure development (MCID). In a recent audit report, Tšeliso Tšenoli, a marketing consultant and dairy farmer, voiced concerns regarding eight milk collection centres donated by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1987. Despite this donation, he said, it is not clear why some of the centres are now derelict.

These centres are located in Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Teyateyaneng, Mokema, Mazenod, Matsieng, Mafeteng, and Mohale’s Hoek. “LNDB had specified functions indicating assistance to farmers with storage. However, despite the initial placement of collection centres in the lowlands, only a few remain operational today.” In a previous interview with Public Eye, Tšenoli elaborated on the unfulfilled plans regarding the processing plant donated by CIDA and the Lesotho Dairy Products (LDP) involvement.

“This is why the report recommended de-registration of LDP as per the 2009 report. This has not been done by the government to date for reasons unknown to farmers.” He shed light on the disparity between pricing structures at collection centres and local village sales.

“Farmers are charged M6 per litre at the collection centre, whereas in village sales, they charge M12,” he explained. “Even though M12 is insufficient due to cow feed costs exceeding revenue, it still surpasses the income generated.” He emphasised the challenges of milk production’s intense nature due to its perishability, highlighting the necessity of specialised equipment lacking among Basotho farmers. “LNDB is tasked with supporting farmers in storage facilities,” adding: “Yet only a few operational collection centres remain despite initial placement efforts.”

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