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Lesotho embraces horticulture products

The national APPSA coordinator ’Maleabua Lephole, who is also the chief research officer at the agriculture ministry said the project was implemented in the Southern African Development Community

Aug. 2, 2019 3 min read

MASERU - The research of a department within the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has launched the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) in a bid to graduate Lesotho out of poverty. APPSA is a World Bank funded project focused on improving agricultural technology generation and dissemination within and among participating countries in southern Africa.

The launch was spearheaded by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in Maseru last Thursday. World Bank injected a sum of M280 million as a soft-loan to finance the six-year project that will specifically focus on both horticulture and vegetable production. The national APPSA coordinator ’Maleabua Lephole, who is also the chief research officer at the agriculture ministry said the project was implemented in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique implemented the project in its phase I, five years ago. Now both Lesotho and Angola are joining the project in its phase II. Swaziland and Zimbabwe are set to implement the project in the future. Ms Lephole said a lot of their work would be on research to help Lesotho pluck holes where there were challenges that make it difficult for famers to penetrate the market. The plan, she said, was to establish why it was so laborious for local farmers to market their products. She said all the relevant stakeholders in the agriculture sector were working jointly to find means to successfully implement the project.

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“These include the academia from NUL (the National University of Lesotho) and LAC (the Lesotho Agricultural College),” Ms Lephole showed. Now as the department they are already planning to work with Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification in their horticulture projects in Lesotho. Ms Lephole said they would help close the gaps that made it difficult for horticulture products to find their way into the market, adding that they would focus on peaches and apples production. Lesotho’s horticultural products, she said, already had a market in South Africa and the plan was to stretch its market tentacles to overseas. “However, focus will also be on vegetables such as tomato and pepper in all its varieties. Potatoes will also be included,” she said. She noted that Lesotho had a comparative advantage to beat the market with horticultural products than South Africa as the main business partner because of the altitude and favourable weather conditions. “There is a lot of paper work done in order for the project to be given the go-ahead by the World Bank. Besides, APPSA is there to address problems under production,” she said. Countries under APPSA will be coordinated by the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) at regional level to share their technologies. Ms Lephole said the project had three components which had to be satisfied and they included Technology Generation and Dissemination, Capacity Strengthening and Facilitation and Coordination. Each component has requirements to satisfy. She added: “For Technology Generation and Dissemination, there is a lot of work that has to be done which includes what variety of crops to be selected for Lesotho. “There is a lot of research that has to be done because there is climate change that brings, for example, erratic rains and drought. “It is best if Lesotho can be able to know the type of crops to select, which will be resilient to effects of climate change.” On the second component, she said, it was imperative to have appropriate infrastructure such as offices, machinery and well trained staff. “These are just examples, so all these projects will be coordinated by Facilitation and Coordination component at country level,” Ms Lephole said.

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