business

May 30, 2022

NEO SENOKO

3 min read

Basotho blow M272 million on imported vegetables

Basotho blow M272 million on imported vegetables

Vegetables produced in South Africa

Story highlights

  • The amount of imported veges to rise due to hiking fuel prices
  • Lesotho needs to produce enough veges for its people

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BASOTHO spend a whopping M272 million year-on-year on imported South African vegetables, says the latest statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

The statistics said Lesotho spent a staggering M272 270 583 on vegetable imports in 2020.

With the spike in fuel prices, it is expected that the figure will further skyrocket as transport costs have a multiplier effect.

Chief Information Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Lereko Masupha said it was not surprising that Basotho spent so much on imported vegetables as Lesotho was a net importer of food products including vegetables.

“The ministry needs to make sure that Basotho produce enough to feed themselves,” he said.

“We are working on various projects to help Basotho move away from subsistence to commercial farming.”

Mr Masupha said a Smallholder Agricultural Development Project (SADP) had been introduced to help Basotho venture into commercial farming.

“So far, this project has yielded some positive results,” he said, adding: “Smallholder farmers can now talk diversification of agricultural products because of the project.”

He said the smallholder project was aimed at increasing agricultural market opportunities, adding that it supported Lesotho’s developing agricultural business sector.

“It will contribute to increased commercialisation of smallholder agriculture,” said Mr Masupha.

“It’s also meant to cater for promotion of innovative agri-business initiatives; and to assist with market linkage development.”

Mr Masupha said the ministry had also brought on board an Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) to help transform Lesotho’s agricultural landscape.

“Lesotho has adopted APPSA as another measure to push the country towards commercialising agriculture,” he said.

“APPSA is going to help Lesotho improve its horticulture sector which should include vegetable production. APPSA is currently conducting some research that would pave the way for the actual crop production in the country.”

Mr Masupha said Lesotho was going to be a centre of excellence for APPSA.

With horticulture-based farming, a branch of plant agriculture dealing with garden crops including fruits and vegetable production, he said the problem with Lesotho’s farming produce was that it was non-tradable compared to South Africa.

“Basotho farmers don’t plant enough large tracts of land and don’t apply adequate herbicides and insecticides,” Mr Masupha said. “Economies of scale is still a problem in Lesotho where farmers produce small margins from hand to mouth.”

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With the opening of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) Maluti Fresh Produce Market last year, the first of its kind in the country, there is hope that the local agricultural produce market should improve.

The market, engineered to empower local farmers with an integrated fruits and vegetable production chain, should help many Basotho to venture into farming and offer them an opportunity to penetrate international markets.

The initiative is in line with the government’s strategy to consider farming as one of the ways to help Basotho create jobs and fight poverty.

 

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