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Brewing solutions to hunger



MASERU – The Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB) will this year help villagers in Ha-Makhalanyane to produce maize for household consumption. The company signed an agreement with the Ha-Makhalanyane community on Tuesday. The project is called the Smart Agriculture Program. A meeting between the company and the community was facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture through the Department of Crops. The statement from MMB said Smart Agriculture is a sustainability program that aims to empower farmers, in the use of high-value seeds, market and weather information, and business and financial skills, to improve crop yields. The cornerstone of the program is mentorship to ensure skills transfer, for sustainability. The MMB identified the Ministry of Agriculture as a key partner in the program, as the Smart Agriculture Program is aligned with the ministry’s vision and mission. The Legal and Corporate Affairs Manager at MMB, ’Mapulumo Mosisili, said the MMB believes the program is a win-win solution for both MMB and the Lesotho government. Mosisili said this will assist in raising revenues, reducing the import bill and ensuring food security and long term scale to be competitive and supply the brewery with high-value maize. “This ensures that jobs at the brewery and the associated value chain are maintained,” she said. A partner in the programme, Jane McPherson from the company called Lucid Solutions, said normally about six bags of 50kg of fertilizer is required in a hectare. McPherson said they will assist the farmers with three bags of 50kg of fertilizer per hectare. She said about 65 farmers will be supported in this project. She then called for collaboration with the community. She said the project is set for Basotho to be in a position to increase their productivity. She said this will “maximize their productivity to feed the families and have enough to sell”. The Director Crops from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mofihli Motšetšero, said the farmers should work together to make this project successful since they have been supported with fertilizers, seeds and chemicals. He said the community should work to increase their productivity to ensure that by next year they have money to buy the required quantity of agricultural inputs. Motšetšero then called for the formulation of the committee which will ensure that there is progress Paul Sesiu, a farmer at Ha-Makhalanyane said he harvests nine to 12 bags of 50kgs of maize per hectare using two bags of 50kg fertiliser. He said the ministry does not sell the agricultural products directly to the farmers hence they have to buy from the selected suppliers. He said even the suppliers are being limited with stock hence there is a huge shortage of agricultural inputs. Sesiu said this forces them to buy from expensive suppliers locally and in South Africa. However, they have been supported with agricultural inputs but the main challenge is climate change which frustrates their productivity. He said even more inspection is required to maximize the quality and quantity of products on top of inputs. Sesiu said the project is going to help them to maximize productivity without worrying about the availability of the inputs. He said the community would like to be helped with harvesting machines.   Refiloe Mpobole

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