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Prime Minister raises hope for local farmers

PROMISING: Premier Dr Moeketsi Majoro

July 28, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - The government has once again solemnly pledged to buy grains from local farmers to ease the grip of hunger and poverty as there is a mounting frustration among the nation triggered by the Covid-19 surging figures.

A narrative from the government that it would buy the locally produced grains to satisfy the market during this pandemic is a trite phenomenon. In March when the government called for a total national shutdown, former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane said the government would buy from the local farmers to assist the masses affected by hunger induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro has uttered the same sentiments in his speech delivered through state media on Saturday night. The premier’s press attaché Mosito Moqhekoana says the government promises to buy maize and beans from local farmers and grind that maize into mealie meal while the beans will be packed. 

He says the products will later be donated to the nation badly impacted by the Covid- 19 pandemic, adding that farming is the best way to fight poverty. Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) became proactive and took to the communities NUA 45 beans which are locally produced.

The association gave these beans to the pupils in schools who were badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as part of their food parcels. The initiative is to make this locally produced product known to the nation so that they can support the local market.

Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people tremendously. Lesotho has 359 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 pandemic and six deaths officially registered while there are only 69 recoveries recorded. The Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU) programmes manager Khotso Lepheana says local farmers will be able to supply the demand but is not sure to what extent given the rate at which food parcels are being distributed to the nation at this time.

He says they have been struggling to get  market for ages but hopefully they have now finally secured one from the government. In the past local farmers had an informal market that could not sustain them for a long time because it was too limited.

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“What the Prime Minister has said is a motivation for us,” Lepheana says, but adds it seems they will not be able to supply for the market because the Covid-19 pandemic had not been planned for and the produce may not meet the expected demand.

He says in any given commercial farming, one has to search for the market and produce later knowing exactly what quantity is needed in the market. Lepheana says Dr Majoro has already met them pleading with them to produce in large quantities in the coming summer cropping season so that they can be able to satisfy the local demand.

He, however, could not confidently promise to satisfy the local demand, adding that this is a lesson that they should produce more in the next ploughing season. Currently, food prices, especially the staple foods are seen shooting up making it difficult for many poor households to buy.

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