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Farmers struggle to market their beans

UNMARKETABLE: Pinto beans produced by local farmers

Oct. 9, 2020 2 min read

2 min read

MASERU – Local farmers are struggling to secure market for Pinto and NUA 45 beans after their deal with the World Food Programme (WFP) Lesotho collapsed. Only sugar beans are performing outstandingly on the market as compared to the other two categories - Pinto and NUA 45.

The anomalies began in April when the deal with WFP through the school feeding programme collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing national lockdowns.

Under normal circumstances, WFP would buy beans of any category from local farmers and subsequently distribute them through the school feeding programme.

But since the pandemic broke out, schools have been closed and therefore it is no longer a prerequisite for them to buy the beans. Since the deal buckled down, local farmers have been left hanging, particularly with tons of pinto and NUA 45 beans in their possession as they struggle for a formal market.

“We had a partnership with WFP through the school feeding programme where they would buy beans in their different categories. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have since pulled out of the deal because schools have been closed,” said the Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU) Programmes Manager Khotso Lepheana in an interview with Metro on Tuesday.

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Following the glitches with the WFP market, Mr. Lepheana said they have started searching for alternatives elsewhere but they are struggling, particularly with Pinto and NUA 45 beans. “We only have difficulties with Pinto and NUA 45 beans. With Sugar beans, we have enough market. We are still trying to negotiate with other business people who may be interested in buying,” he said.

While still trying to secure the market, Mr. Lepheana has urged the government to meet them halfway in buying their produce, particularly during these tough times of the pandemic.

The government has since pledged to buy grains from local farmers in a move to ease the grip of hunger and poverty as well as satisfy the market during these trying times.

Of his own accord, Sempe Makhaola, a member of the Maseru District Agricultural Unity Association said they started to invest a lot of energy and focus on NUA 45 beans in the past season with the support of the Rural Self-help Development Association (RSDA).

“After realising that farmers are now stuck, they came with their own rescue measures and bought their own produce. These are just some of the results of COVID-19, it has really affected farmers in a negative manner,” Mr Makhaola said.

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