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Transformative potato farming workshop sparks economic empowerment 


Lehlohonolo Motsoari

In a burst of enthusiasm and newfound knowledge, a group of emerging potato farmers recently celebrated their first harvest following a transformative workshop in Mohale’s Hoek last year. Fueled by a shared passion for potato farming, this journey has yielded crops and sown the seeds of economic empowerment and growth within the potato production sector.

The subsequent study tour was more than a mere expedition; it was a quest for enlightenment. Mentors who diligently guided workshop participants joined in to witness tangible outcomes.

The inclusion of Mohale’s Hoek High School teachers in the workshop emphasised a commitment to disseminating knowledge beyond the confines of the agricultural community.

For educators like Kopanang Molai, the Agricultural teacher at Mohale’s Hoek High School, the workshop transcended theoretical boundaries, providing practical insights integrated into their curriculum. The impact is evident, with agriculture students actively engaged in planting potatoes—a testament to the workshop’s enduring legacy.

Encountering challenges during soil gathering, Molai noted, “The soil gathering is not unified due to delayed rain, and some potatoes did not break the soil, leaving a wider space than instructed.”

Manthatisi Makhothi, Molai’s colleague, emphasised how the workshop broadened the school’s economic benefits.

She stated, “We have many projects resulting from this production to generate income, ensuring sustainable agriculture that benefits not only the school but the entire nation.”

The journey extended beyond teachers to aspiring farmers like Selemo Mabula, whose first harvest was remarkable.

Mabula’s dedication, coupled with insights from the workshop and ongoing mentorship, led to a top-tier harvest, showcasing the promise of potato production.

Mabula highlighted, “I followed the guidelines from the workshop, used recommended fertilizers, addressed challenges like worms with recommended poison, and applied super grow every fourteen days.”

Describing his strategies for success, Mabula mentioned using a planter for initial soil gathering, hiring people with spades for efficiency, and paying them with staple foods from other harvests.

However, challenges punctuated the journey for farmers like Manthatisi Lekunutu, Sechaba Khemisi, and Masello Mojaje.
From unforgiving soil to unexpected setbacks, each obstacle tested resilience and determination.

Despite these trials, the farmers remain undeterred, eagerly anticipating their impending harvests with optimism and resolve.

Their stories embody perseverance and the unwavering spirit of entrepreneurship.

As the fields burgeon with potential, Nthethe Ralitapole’s optimism resonates—a testament to the collective efforts of PPP and its dedicated farmers.

He stated, “I learned from travelling abroad how other countries use these types of training for a successful harvest and felt obligated to pass it on to our communities.”

Abia Matlabe, speaking on behalf of PPP, commended the farmers’ tenacity, urging them to aim higher for a future where potatoes uplift livelihoods.

He emphasised, “This is the first step towards bigger achievements in eradicating hunger and fostering entrepreneurship within Basotho.”

The journey concluded with a special guest, Tlaba Mochebelele, representing Farmers Pitso—an organisation committed to expanding market opportunities for farmers.

His invitation to PPP farmers symbolises a united community striving for prosperity through agriculture.

During the tour, farmers not only inspired Mohale’s Hoek residents to embark on the potato farming journey but also learned techniques that will ease the workload and increase profits.

Ultimately, the inaugural harvest is more than months of toil; it’s a testament to the power of knowledge, resilience, and community. As the sun sets on this chapter, a new dawn beckons—one filled with promise, possibility, and the boundless potential of the human spirit.

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