Connect with us


M102 million to subsidise farming



MASERU – THE government has injected a massive M102 million to subsidise farming inputs for the summer cropping season.

This was announced by Minister of Finance, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, during her mid-term budget in parliament last Friday.

The government will subsidise for seeds and pesticides to allow farmers to boost production.

“This came as an initiative to improve crop production and productivity,” Dr Matlanyane said.

Dr Matlanyane said the inputs procured this far include maize seeds and fertilisers which were distributed to approximately 6 000 farmers.

According to a memo by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Advocate ’Mole Kumalo, issued on December 8, the price of a subsidized 50kg bag of fertiliser (CaSuMa 6:2:1) is now M149.

A 10kg bag of yellow maize and white maize seeds is now M285 and M159 respectively.

Kumalo said the sale of summer cropping inputs began last Friday for all districts which received the inputs.

He said due to limited time available for planting of summer crops, the available inputs have been distributed to the districts where time still permits to plant summer crops.

Kumalo urged all the District Administrators (DAs) to ensure that inputs are sold only to farmers who will be able to plant within the remaining time and not to those who are going to sell or keep for the next season.

Kumalo further urged all DAs to ensure that priority is given to farmers whose fields are within the high lying areas which are not prone to waterlogging.

The chairperson of the Lesotho National Farmers’ Union (LENAFU) in Leribe, Daniel Chakela, said while this was a good initiative, it was coming too late as “it is already late for summer cropping for most of the regions”.

“In the previous term of this budget, the quantity of inputs was low,” Chakela said.

“Farmers were limited to buying a certain number of inputs and the number was so low,” he said.

“Some of the farmers plant over 100 hectares which requires over 200 bags of fertilisers,” he said.

Chakela said it is their belief that now that the budget has been extended, even the number of inputs will increase.

He said previous governments had ignored the agricultural sector.

He said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had agreed that each country shall allocate at least 10 percent of their budget to the agricultural sector.

“However, in Lesotho this is not the case,” he said.

“Instead the budget for agriculture has been declining (over the years).”

“This has seriously reduced agricultural production,” he said.

Chakela said the state of the agricultural sector in Lesotho requires attention from all sectors.

He said farmers need to be engaged in the budget planning and policy formulations.

“Every new policy implemented directly affects us,” he said.

The programme manager of the LENAFU, Khotso Lepheane, said if there is an imbalance of agricultural inputs, the needs of farmers would remain unaddressed.

Lepheane said some of the challenges in the previous term budget include the increased prices of agricultural inputs in the markets which in turn lowered the quantity of inputs.

“As much as this supplementary budget will benefit more farmers, it is already late for the summer cropping season,” Lepheane said.

“For farmers in the highlands, the planting season for crops such as beans and maize ends in October due to the weather conditions,” he said.

“This says, only farmers in the lowlands will benefit.”

Lepheane said some of the farmers had already committed their fields since the information was not clearly disseminated.

He said in the coming budget, they would like to be engaged on what varieties and the number of inputs which will be available.

“This will help the farmers to plan ahead of time,” he said.

Lepheane said even the processes which are followed by farmers to get the inputs are too long and this discourages more farmers to take advantage of subsidized inputs.

“There should be one station where applications will be conducted,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Copyright © 2022. The Post Newspaper. All Rights Reserved