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Ministry of Agric rolls sleeves on drought

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

The Ministry of Agriculture Food and Security (MAFS) plans to inject M4million on small stock farmers in an effort to mitigate the effects of drought.

Deputy Minister Likopo Mahase said the ministry’s future plan which is expected to kick-start in January next year, is designed to ease the agricultural sector’ burden during this farming season. He said this in a Senate sitting this week.       

“The future plan to mitigate effects of drought is to inject about M4 000 000 on small stocks from January to March 2021,” he said adding that the ministry is in a process of acquiring Anthrax and Black quarter vaccine.  

“Generally, the rangeland conditions are severely compromised, therefore, my Ministry continues to advise farmers to stock pile animal feeds for supplementation as most animals die due to drought related complications,” he said.

Mahase said the ministry has joined forces with the National University of Lesotho (NUL) to initiate a research on climate fodder species. 

“As a mitigation strategy against high animal morbidity and mortality rates, the ministry through Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP) has initiated the relief program to ensure the accessibility of feeds at 50% subsidised prices. My ministry through the project is collaborating with the National University of Lesotho to conduct research on climate smart fodder species to ensure the availability of fodder in all seasons.

“The WAMPP is implementing the national culling and exchange program as a means to relief the already degraded rangelands. In addition, the Ministry through WAMPP has resolved to sell the veterinary drugs under the revolving fund at the cost recovery prices, which make them more affordable,” he said.

In a National Vaccination Campaign carried out by the ministry from August to September this year, Mahase said thousands of cats and dogs were vaccinated in a fight against rabies, while the sheep were injected against sheep scab.

“The ministry is in the process of procuring 1, 500 000 injectable acaricide (solution 3.5%) that will address unexpected sheep scab outbreaks. The blanthrax vaccine will be delivered by November 2020 to vaccinate animals against anthrax and black quarter.

“We embarked on a National Vaccination Campaign to protect animals from diseases that can debilitate them which have been already affected by drought, such animals become vulnerable to diseases as their immunity is already compromised by drought related stress,” he said.

“During vaccination campaign, 336 636 animals were vaccinated against Anthrax and Black quarter, 7 689 dogs and 1 089 cats were vaccinated against rabies respectively.

“Another debilitating disease that affects production and productivity of small stock is sheep scab. In an effort to alleviate the effects of sheep scab, 164 375 sheep were treated against such disease,” he said.

“As a long-term solution to the drought conditions, the MAFS has completed the irrigation master plan and have facilitated sourcing of funds to embark on implementing the plan in three phases (short-term, medium-term and long-term).

“Under Small holder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) about USD15million (about M240million) has been secured for establishment and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes. Lesotho is working to secure USD250million (about M4billion) earmarked for irrigated Horticulture Production,” he said.  

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