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Unlocking the Bounty of Lesotho’s Fruit Trees: Insights from Successful Farmers

Business

By Libuseng Molato 

Nestled within Lesotho’s picturesque landscapes lies a hidden treasure; its thriving fruit tree farms. 

With an ideal climate and fertile soil, Lesotho boasts some of the juiciest and most flavorful passion fruits in the world. 

To uncover the secrets behind this agricultural success, two esteemed fruit tree farmers, Tsilo Makhetha and Mothiba Thamae share their journey.

Makhetha and Thamae epitomise inspiration as Lesotho’s fruit tree farming industry continues to flourish. Through passion, hard work, and a deep connection to the land, these farmers are not only cultivating success but also nurturing a legacy of agricultural excellence in their communities.

Tsilo Makhetha: Planting Seeds of Inspiration

From his expansive Makhetha Farm Empire in Matsieng, Tsilo Makhetha reflects on his journey into fruit tree farming with nostalgia and determination. 

Recalling the childhood memories that sparked his passion, he shares, “When growing up as kids, we used to visit late Queen Mamohato, and she would give us very nice and juicy different fruits from the yard… I told myself that when I grow up, I am going to have all the fruits.”

Driven by this childhood dream and inspired by agricultural leaders, Makhetha embarked on his fruit tree farming venture. 

Despite facing challenges along the way, including crop damage and acts of jealousy, he remained undeterred. 

“It was not easy,” he admits, “but I never gave up.”

“I normally get great support from local Basotho,” Makhetha adds proudly, “and I supply Botswana and Swaziland people with dried peaches with the help of my siblings.”

Mothiba Thamae: Nurturing Family Traditions

In Maseru’s scenic countryside, Mothiba Thamae, a member of the renowned Mountain Fruit Growers family farm, shares his family’s journey into fruit tree farming. 

Reflecting on his father’s legacy, he recalls, “My father, the founder of the farm, loved farming… He decided to focus on producing fruits and even grew tree seedlings and sold them.”

Guided by his father’s passion and propelled by a shared love for agriculture, Thamae and his family expanded their orchards over the years. 

“We began to include grape trees,” he explains, “and discovered an opportunity in producing wine from our own grape trees’ produce.”

“I learned that Lesotho has a great potential to produce more fruits,” Thamae reflects, “because of our high altitude which is best for fruits. Fruits produced in Lesotho normally are less attacked by bacterias and ripe quicker due to our cool weather.”

Insights into Lesotho’s Fruit Tree Potential

Both Makhetha and Thamae emphasise the favourable conditions in Lesotho for fruit tree cultivation. 

“Our soil is so fertile,” Makhetha asserts proudly, “it’s even unbelievable that we did not use fertilisers but we produce good quality fruits.”

“Though lately we are experiencing a great challenge of climate changes,” Thamae laments, “stone fruits like peaches, plums, and apricots are affected… this year we had hail and later it became extremely hot hence the harvest was low.”

Encouraging the Next Generation

When asked about their advice for aspiring farmers, both Makhetha and Thamae underscore the importance of passion and perseverance. “Definitely, there are still challenges,” Thamae acknowledges, “but the fruit trees sector can generate good income and creates lots of employment.”

“Agriculture is an investment,” Makhetha emphasises, “and one must be patient, especially if they want to grow for commercial reasons.”

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