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Ten fruit-trees per household



I still have a question for my good friend, Mr Ramahooana Matlosa. What does ‘Smart’ in Smart Man really refer to? Is it smart as in looks? “This guy is handsome.” Or smart as in dress-code? “This guy has got style!” Or is it smart as in acumen/intellect? “Hmmm! That guy speaks a lot of sense?” Which is which?

I ask this question because ‘Mr Smart Man’ is now promising the electorate very fantastic things. From free high-school education to roads in the sky (fly-overs). I understand that he also wants to get rid of load shedding in South Africa by generating electricity in Lesotho and selling it to South Africa. Chesa Smarties!

I have one question to him. Have you heard of a thing called SMART GOALS? How are you then planning to finance your ‘wish-list’? With money from where? From which investors? As a matter of fact, Lesotho is completely absent at the Africa Mining Investment Indaba in Cape Town happening this week.

In any case, what I’ve learnt in life is that, most often, we try to look for the most complicated solutions to solve our day-to-day challenges. And most often, the answer lies in the simplest of solutions. And quiet often, the answers are right in front of us. For example, let’s start by fixing the potholes before we build highways in the sky.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have misplaced your car keys and start looking for them all over the house? Only to find that they are tucked right at the back of your pants? It’s more like failing an open book test. Yet the answers are right in front of you.

You know, sometimes I wonder what the purpose of agencies such as the UNDP is? Is it just to look important and useful on Lesotho Television? Because, I feel like they complicate things by bringing complicated solutions to simple problems. Why isn’t Lesotho defeating the scourge of poverty almost 60 years of its independence?

Is this the reason why Elon Musk vowed never to donate even a cent to the United Nations or to any of its agencies? Well, not because of Lesotho’s poverty problems of-course. I don’t think Elon Musk has even heard of a country named Lesotho. I doubt!

During my days in school at the University of Johannesburg, I would marvel at the tall concrete buildings that were mostly built in the 1960’s and a large part in the 1970’s. But what fascinated me the most was how Johannesburg managed to create the largest man-made forest in the world. In the world!

This is a forest that was created by a tiny little policy of ‘two big trees per household’. Can you imagine what the ripple effect of this was? The compounding interest of this effect? It goes, on and on and on, until it becomes a mega forest.

Now, why can’t we copy the same strategy? But with Fruit trees this time around? Now, imagine if we could say, 10 fruit-trees per house-hold. Five trees of winter fruit-trees (oranges) and the other five of summer fruit-trees (peaches and apples).

Now, according to statistics, it is said that Lesotho has about one hundred thousand households. Is this a fact Mr or Ms Statistician General? In fact, who is the Statistician General of the Bureau of Statistics? His/her silence is so loud.

So, if we have one hundred households that would each plant 10 trees per yard/household, this would translate into 1 million fruit-trees, just like that! In a snap of a finger. But why are fruit-trees so valuable?

I was reading a very interesting article in the Business Day that, according to the Citrus Growers association of South Africa, the aggregate value of exports of the Citrus group of fruits (those are your oranges, naartjies, lemons), in 2021, amounted to (wait for it), 36 Billion Rands. 36 Billion Rands! That is the value of exports, in 2021.

Now, the value of exports to Europe alone was 7 Billion Rands. And this was in the year 2021 to Europe only!

I kept this opinion piece as short as possible because of its importance to the economy. And again people are also generally lazy to read. They read the first two paragraphs and turn to the next page.

Fruit-trees can re-ignite the dead economy of Lesotho, only if we do one thing and that is to export. Let’s all remember that you need exports in order to grow an economy.
You don’t grow an economy by closing it like we do and hoping to inter-trade. No, that’s a wrong way of doing it and will result in massive economy inactivity as well as a rampant unemployment rate.

In closing, to quell a few myths that I’ve heard on the radio about Lesotho being a diamond rich country as well as Lesotho has been short-changed for agreeing to take up 30% in the Letšeng Diamond mine. You know what, I think sometimes we don’t allow sanity to prevail in our arguments. We argue with charged emotions.

Look, and listen carefully. Diamond mining is capital intensive. It’s like playing the lottery. Chances of getting diamonds are not always guaranteed. In fact, Ntate Joe Mollo can explain this fact much more comprehensively.

When you excavate the ore (the gravel), there could be ‘zero diamonds’ per ton. Zero! Imagine how many tons of gravel, of soil you need in order to find the next big diamond?
How much diesel and electricity do you need? How many people do you need to employ in order do unearth one diamond? Would the Lesotho government have that kind of capital? The answer is no.

In any case, my point is here. The annual turnover of Letšeng Diamonds, hovers at around 3.5 Billion Maloti. 3.5 Billion Maloti for it to be the largest company in Lesotho. In terms of scale and output on a global level, Letšeng Diamonds is one of the smallest Diamond mines in the world.

Did you know, in terms of ‘profitability’, Vodacom Lesotho is much more profitable than Letšeng Diamonds? Vodacom Lesotho is also the most profitable company in Lesotho. Did you know this fact?

To put it into perspective, there are only three companies with an annual turnover of more that 1 Billion Maloti; Letšeng Diamonds, Vodacom Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank. Three! That demonstrates how none-existent this economy is.

Do you realise that, if we plant fruit trees following this strategy that I have just demonstrated, the fruit industry could easily be the biggest industry and subsequently the biggest employer in Lesotho?

This strategy would work perfectly because our people have become lazy to work in the agricultural fields. Moreover, taking care of trees at home would better for focused care than walking all the way to the fields and getting sunburnt.

Maintenance (pruning) and care of the trees would come at much reduced cost. More especially, when it comes to watering and nurturing the trees.

Let’s use a calculator and focus on oranges. If we have 1 million trees of orange-trees and each tree produces 500 oranges each, how many oranges would we have? Use your calculator. Yes, 500 million oranges.

Now if the cost of one orange is $1 Dollar in New York (Google search the cost of an orange in New York) how much would that be?

Now, multiply it with the exchange rate of 1USD to the ZAR (R16.13). How much do you get? There goes your answer. Please send your answers to the editor on the following address: . I’m curious to hear your views.

Do you still believe in diamonds after making that calculation? Do you now see the reason why Cecil John Rhodes left the diamond industry for fruit trees?

‘Mako Bohloa

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