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Majoro pledges to back farmers



MASERU-THE government will provide a 60 percent subsidy to farmers to secure inputs for this year’s cropping season. Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said this as he donated 12 bags of fertilizers, six bags of beans and maize seed to six young farmers on Tuesday. Majoro said it is imperative to intensify the country’s efforts in agriculture to ensure Basotho have enough to eat as well as export. “There will be several efforts by the government to encourage and enable farmers to intensify their agricultural efforts,” Majoro said. “The first is that farmers across the country will only pay 40 percent for seeds and fertilizers as the government has subsidized them with 60 percent,” he said. Another contribution by the government is that with the assistance of the Lesotho Post Bank farmers will be able to buy tractors from the government. “We are also working tirelessly with local businesses and farmers to try and bring workshops here,” he said. “The biggest concern farmers have at the moment is that they are unable to fix farming equipment due to closed borders because of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Majoro added that the government is also committing to buy food from farmers that will be issued as food parcels to the vulnerable public as a means of solving the problem of access to markets by farmers. He said over the years more and more land lay fallow and that has to come to an end. “We have a lot of land, all we need to do is to use it to produce food and not leave it unfarmed year after year,” he said. “We seriously need to start producing food and minimise reliance on South Africa.” Handing over the agricultural inputs to the six young farmers, Majoro said Lesotho’s state of food security is critical because of poor rainfall last season which has now been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. “We were only able to produce a bit over 30 000 tons of food when the country needs 200 000 metric tons,” Majoro said. “My biggest fear and that of the government because of the prevailing pandemic is that one day we might wake up and be told we can no longer buy food from South Africa,” he said. Mabohlokoa Pii from Mafeteng, the only woman who received seeds and fertilizer, said Basotho should not wait for the rain but go to the fields. “Farming is a win and lose game. We do not control rain,” Pii said. “What we can do is to play our part and plough our fields so that when rain comes our crops will grow.” Pii, who started farming two years ago, said she is proud of what she harvested last season despite the late and low rainfall. “My maize and sorghum harvest was not good, I ploughed late but I still got more than I expected,” she said. “I have 50 bags and 22 kilograms of beans,” she said, adding: “I am hoping for a better harvest this year.” She said the seeds and fertilizer she received will be used well. “Last year I used 12 bags of 10 kilogram of bean seed, six bags of fertilizer and five litres of pesticide on a 12 acres land,” she said. Lemohang Rakotsoane

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