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An agricultural hope for dropouts

Business

By Ntsoaki Motaung

To give hope, instil love and to address unemployment challenges in one efforts, ‘Mabokang Motsienyane, a lecturer at Lesotho Agricultural College (LAC) in the Department of Animal Science, has emerged as a beacon of change for individuals categorised as dropouts.

Her initiative seeks to uplift those currently without income streams, including individuals who never attended school, those who did not complete their education, and even graduates struggling to secure employment.

“This idea is successful, and it can empower every Mosotho, provided they understand English, to delve into agriculture commercially,” she affirms.

Motsienyane founded the Roma Agri-Business Training Centre (RABTC) to breathe life into this vision in 2015. 

The centre is dedicated to offering top-notch training and research in agriculture, with a unique emphasis on practical, hands-on learning.

“Our approach combines theory, practical exercises, and research to produce candidates skilled in entrepreneurship, thereby fostering a culture of commercial agriculture in Lesotho,” she explains.

Recognising agriculture’s pivotal role in the nation’s economy, Motsienyane stresses the need for specialised training to support its commercialisation.

“RABTC aims to address challenges like climate variability and low production by nurturing skilled entrepreneurs capable of producing high-value agricultural products and engaging in agro-processing for added value,” she elaborates.

She underscores the importance of adapting the centre’s curriculum to meet evolving agricultural needs, such as climate-smart practices and technological advancements.

Despite its successes, the centre faces challenges, notably financial constraints that temporarily halted operations. Nevertheless, Motsienyane remains committed to offering three programs: a certificate in agricultural production, an advanced certificate in agri-business management, and an apprenticeship program.

“Graduates often kickstart their projects after completing our training, while the advanced programs pave the way for further educational pursuits,” she outlines.

She adds, “The apprenticeship initiative pairs candidates with established farmers, providing invaluable hands-on experience and a stipend to jumpstart their ventures afterwards.”

Motsienyane says she actively monitors the progress of graduates, ensuring they stay on track post-training.

Notably, successful collaborative projects have emerged in regions like Thaba Tseka Sehonghong and Qacha’s Nek, where students have partnered with communities to produce cosmetics.

“We conduct follow-ups to prevent our graduates from reverting to dropout status,” she says, underscoring the centre’s holistic approach to nurturing successful agricultural entrepreneurs.

Through Motsienyane’s unwavering dedication, the Roma Agri-Business Training Centre continues to be a beacon of hope, transforming dropouts into empowered contributors to Lesotho’s agricultural landscape.

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