Monday, April 22, 2024
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Matekane unveils ambitious national soil testing plan for agricultural transformation

Business

Libuseng Molato

In a strategic move to enhance agricultural productivity and yield, Prime Minister Sam Matekane recently announced an ambitious plan for a comprehensive national soil testing project in Lesotho.

Speaking at a block-farming meeting in Maseru, Matekane attributed Lesotho’s historically low crop yields to incorrect ploughing practices. 

Expressing optimism, the Prime Minister outlined the government’s vision to make Lesotho self-sufficient in food production, positioning agriculture as the cornerstone of economic growth.

“Our 2024 budget exceeds the norm as we embark on a countrywide soil testing initiative. This endeavour aims to ensure that the right crops are cultivated in the right soil, preventing crop failures and ultimately improving overall yield,” stated Prime Minister Matekane.

Championing Farmer Independence

During his address, Matekane issued a call to Basotho farmers to take ownership of the agriculture sector, advocating for the purchase of government-owned machinery. 

He proposed that farmers, as owners of the machinery, could subsequently lease their equipment back to the government during ploughing seasons.

“It would be a significant milestone to witness all agricultural machinery owned by farmers rather than the government. Farmers understand the machinery’s nuances and can utilise them more effectively. Furthermore, owning agricultural equipment presents a business opportunity, allowing farmers to lease their machinery to the government during ploughing seasons and generate income,” encouraged Prime Minister Matekane.

Summer Cropping Preparedness

Prime Minister Matekane shared insights into the government’s readiness for both winter and summer crop seasons. For the winter crop season, Matekane said the government has procured 4,000 tonnes of fertilisers, while an additional 10,000 tonnes have been secured for the upcoming summer season.

Acknowledging challenges in fertiliser and seed procurement, Matekane affirmed that the government had already acquired inputs for the summer season, ensuring timely distribution to farmers.

“We face competition with South Africa for seasonal inputs, which is why we’ve proactively secured summer cropping inputs. By doing so, we eliminate any excuses for delayed ploughing, fostering a more robust and timely agricultural calendar,” emphasised the Prime Minister.

Lesotho’s Potential as a Food Production Hub

In a remarkable revelation, Prime Minister Matekane disclosed that Lesotho had garnered interest from two countries seeking to designate it as a food production hub. Proposals from these nations outlined plans for Lesotho to supply maize, wheat, and sorghum. However, Matekane emphasised the importance of achieving self-sufficiency before considering such opportunities.

“I have received proposals from two countries interested in Lesotho as a designated food production hub. While I appreciate the interest, I believe it’s crucial for us to achieve self-sufficiency before we commit to supplying other nations,” asserted Prime Minister Matekane

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