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50 percent subsidy for farmers



MASERU – THE government says it will provide a 50 percent subsidy to farmers in an effort to boost crop production this year.
Agriculture Minister Mahala Molapo said the measure is a “thank you” gesture to farmers for working hard during the last winter cropping season.
He said the government will also provide harvesting machines at half the normal price to wheat farmers.
“Wheat and peas were produced in large quantities and that is commendable,” Molapo said.

“(A) great job was done and therefore I promise that harvesting machines will be provided.”
He said although there were challenges of delayed rainfall, drought and heavy hail which led to the damage of crops some farmers still managed to harvest.
The government says it will meet the farmers’ half-way by providing them with heavy machinery and other necessities to boost production.
The farmers will also be provided with seeds, herbicides and fertilizers at subsidized prices. The implements will be given to farmers who work as individuals or those in block farming schemes in all the 10 districts.

Molapo said every farmer will have to register with the ministry before they benefit.
“Owners of the machines who engage in block farming and farmers who are not able to plough will be sold goods at lower prices like all other businesses,” he said.
Fertilisers will be kept at the following stores: Qacha’s Nek, Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek and Mafeteng at the Government store in Mohale’s Hoek while Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe fertilizers will be stored in Butha-Buthe.

For farmers in Leribe and the other parts of Thaba-Tseka highlands and Berea, manure will be stored in Leribe (Maputsoe) or Ha-Foso which will also cater for farmers in Maseru district.
The government under the Ministry of Agriculture will also subsidise farmers who work in groups in each village if only they have registered together and are able to plough at least 25 acres.
Such farmers are urged to find machine owners who will assist them.

If there are no machines, they should approach the nearest Department of Agriculture so that they can make use of the government’s machines.
On the other hand the government pledged to support bloc farmers and farmers who cannot afford to plough their fields.

According to Molapo in the past summer cropping, the government appealed to machine owners to do blocs which were working in harmony with the government.
Also, the government appealed to those who cannot afford to plough to allow those who could to use their fields under a sharecropping arrangement.
Ploughing for each acre is M300. Every farmer is expected to pay M150 and the machine owner will be refunded M150 by the government provided there is enough evidence for the work done.
Machine owners are also expected to sign a contract with the ministry in the district.

They will be working with the block farmers before kick-starting work.
In a case where ploughing is done by government machines, payments will be processed at the Ministry of Agriculture’s offices in that district.
He said a list of farmers who are working together sharing a machine will be issued with the name of the machine owner at the ministry to be granted the go ahead to use the machine.
This will make it easier for the machine owner to be paid.

At least 40 shearing sheds will be constructed country-wide to ensure production of wool and mohair.
Another initiative includes Small-scale Agricultural Development Project (SADP), which will support farmers who are engaged in crop farming.
Molapo urged those who will be involved in the project to work hard for the growth of the economy.
He also applauded Basotho farmers for engaging with full force in the past summer cropping despite numerous challenges.

Tokase Mphutlane

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