- About M29 580 million has been invested in the programme.
- One year training aimed at improving local agricultural production and standards
MASERU – The Lesotho Supply Development Programme (LSDP), a four-partner programme, has engaged an international body, GLOBAL GAP Academy, to provide a training and mentorship programme to 50 local farm assurers on horticulture and livestock value chains. The aim of the one-year training is to eventually see improved agriculture production and standards in Lesotho. Launched in March, LSDP is a four-partner programme comprising; Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB), Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as FinMark Trust.
According to LSDP representative and member of Standard Lesotho Bank, Eugenea Lekoroana, participants at the training programme will also be coached on measures that will allow them to easily access finances in future, among other things. “The training shall include capacity building on business management, as well as improved access to markets both locally and internationally. “They will also be able to access finances in future because they will be trained on record keeping measures as well,” Mr Lekoroana said on Friday, during a two-day farm assurers’ workshop that ended on Saturday.
GLOBAL GAP is a trademark and a set of standards for good agricultural practices. It is a global organisation with a crucial objective towards safe and sustainable agriculture worldwide. The body sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the world. The four-partner organisation initiated and commenced implementation of a programme that seeks to contribute to the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) objectives for job creation and economic growth by focusing on capacitating the development productive sectors that include agriculture, among others.
Collaboration with government ministries is through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s Department of Marketing and the Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Department of Standards. Under the programme, the 50 farm assurers who have already been selected are scheduled for a training that will start before the end of this month. Nearly US$2 million (roughly M29 580million) has been invested in the programme.
“We engaged GLOBAL GAP to provide training on production and compliance to international food standards. The GLOBAL GAP certification is one of the most recognised food standards globally,” Lekoroana added. Their proposed capacity development plan is strongly aligned to the LSDP objectives in developing domestic capacity in agricultural standard development, management and certification.
Farm assurers, among others, will be trained to support local farmers in the fruit and vegetable and livestock subsectors. Upon completion of the training, their main responsibility will be to train the farmers in the selected value chains and carry out inspections to ensure adherence to good agricultural practices such as setting up of the quality standards. Farm assurer trainees will include employees from the Ministry of Agriculture, members of local farmers’ associations, members of local business associations as well as personnel from academic institutions such as the National University of Lesotho and the Lesotho Agricultural College.
Staff from the Fresh Produce Market Centre and those from the Lesotho Standards Institute will also form part of the training. After the training, farm assurers will be expected to contribute towards the improvement of the local agriculture industry. Lack of access to finance remains one of the major impediments facing the business sector in the country. While there are about 41 percent of SMMEs with bank accounts, only three percent, according to the LSDP, has access to credit.
Furthermore, the programme will enhance local competitiveness through exposure to global and international markets, as well as introduction to quality standards. According to LSDP, the local private sector currently has low competitiveness and severely lacks business sophistication. As such, the LSDP says there is need to improve capacity and quality of locally produced products. Lack of products standardisation facilities also makes it difficult for the local private sector to access formal markets.