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Cultivating Innovation: The Rise of CSA in Tsikoane

Business

Kabelo Masoabi

Looking to perfect sustainable agriculture amidst climate uncertainty, farmers in Tsikoane, Leribe, are turning to climatically smart agriculture (CSA) techniques to safeguard their livelihoods and bolster food security.

Embracing CSA not only enhances crop yields but also fortifies resilience against the adverse impacts of climate change, marking a pivotal shift in Lesotho’s agricultural landscape.

Agriculture Extension Officer, Kabelo Mosakeng, underscores the transformative potential of CSA, emphasising its role in optimising resource utilisation while mitigating climate-induced risks.

“Through strategic management of farmlands and crops, CSA empowers farmers to thrive in the face of evolving climate challenges, safeguarding both agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability,” Mosakeng said.

One such advocate for CSA is ‘Mamasoabi Horoto, a dedicated member of the Tsikoane Empowerment Association.

Horoto’s journey into CSA began with the acquisition of a greenhouse structure, facilitated by the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP II).

This innovative technology, she said has revolutionised her farming practices, enabling year-round cultivation of high-quality vegetable seedlings despite erratic weather patterns and crop diseases.

“Access to the market is no longer a major challenge like it used to be. All my life I have never been employed, I have always had a passion for farming. Even though my plot was not very big, I would always produce vegetables and end up selling to my fellow villagers,” shared Horoto.

Reflecting on her transition to greenhouse farming, Horoto highlights the resilience-building benefits of CSA in mitigating climate-related risks.

“Unlike traditional open-field farming, greenhouse cultivation offers a sheltered environment that shields crops from adverse weather conditions, ensuring consistent yields and market access for farmers like me,” explains Horoto.

For veteran farmer, Thejane Malokotsa, CSA represents a paradigm shift towards precision agriculture and resource optimisation.

“Producing high-quality seedlings and transplants is essential for vegetables and the CSA technology provides a way to produce them in an environment where all conditions can be controlled, resulting in increased crop quality, uniformity and yield,” shares Malokotsa adding seedlings have a quick development period of just a few weeks, allowing for a higher turnover.

“This presents a great opportunity for profit-making and sustainable agriculture,” explained the farmer who is also a member of the Association.

He revealed that through regular meetings, the association members discuss market opportunities and emerging challenges in their field of work.

To secure the market, Malokotsa said they have observed a need for seedlings and have bridged that gap by standardising their production and sourcing seeds from certified suppliers, including the department of horticulture in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

“The ministry’s extension officers also provide us with information on the best practices of the CSA to combat climate challenges.”

Despite the promise of CSA, coupled with the litany of trainings for the association members, access to greenhouse technology remains a barrier for many aspiring farmers due to prohibitive costs.

“Erecting a greenhouse is expensive and can cost as high as M150, 000.”

Malokotsa urges for government intervention to facilitate access to quality structures that will enable farmers to scale up seedling production and bolster local agriculture.

Regardless of the challenges, he noted that the embrace of CSA techniques by farmers in Tsikoane exemplifies a paradigm shift towards sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

“Through innovation, adaptation, and collaborative action, Lesotho’s agricultural sector is poised for transformation, ushering in a new era of prosperity and food security for generations to come.

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