Ha Matala Sheep retailers finally secure permanent spot



MASERU – Sheep farmers retailing their livestock in Maseru have secured a permanent site to showcase and sell their animals. This resolution comes after numerous complaints about their previous location. They were initially promised a site in Maqalika near Temong but the plan was later abandoned. Last month, a crucial meeting gathered all Maseru-area sheep farmers to discuss the details of the new site, Lifariking, Ha Foso.

On May 3, in Ha Matala, Maseru, Keketsi Phole, a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s marketing department, confirmed the acquisition of the Ha Foso site in Lifariking for the farmers. However, the exact timeline for their relocation remains uncertain, as security arrangements for the livestock are still being finalised.

Phole emphasised that the site is designated solely for selling, leaving farmers to decide whether to relocate entirely or commute daily from their current residences. Mohau Malataliana, a farmer and member of the Tsoelang Pele Baitšukuli Society, expressed relief and excitement as their longstanding request for operational space has been granted.

“We are thrilled because our prayers are finally answered,” Malataliana stated. He explained that the new space will allow them to apply for trading licenses, a process previously complicated by their lack of a legal operating location. However, Malataliana noted potential challenges ahead. “The competition could be tougher since all the sheep farmers around Maseru are relocating here,” he said.

Additionally, he acknowledged concerns about their customers’ ability to locate their new operation, though plans are in place to mitigate this through early notifications via radio broadcasts and newspapers. A primary concern remains the safety of their livestock. Malataliana shared: “We will have to look for households that have kraals or are fenced, because we have heard stories about animals being stolen from some residences.””

This underscores the ongoing challenges they face even as they move towards a more secure and legitimate framework for their business. Another farmer, Lebohang Lebesa expressed his preference for commuting rather than renting. “I cannot stay at a rented house when I already have a home in Ha Abia; I would rather walk every day to work,” he said.

The Ha Matala sheep farmers extended their gratitude to all the ministries involved in securing their new location. They emphasised the urgency of the move, noting the precarious nature of their current situation. “It was only a matter of time, as the owner of the site we are currently using was waiting to get her lease before she told us to go,” they explained.

The farmers also urged for expedited arrangements, as the timing of the lease acquisition and their subsequent displacement remain uncertain. “If we cannot relocate to the new site soon and the owner dismisses us, our families would starve because this is our only means of livelihood,” the sheep farmers stressed, highlighting the critical impact of the move on their lives.

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