business

April 12, 2022

STAFF REPORTER

3 min read

Russia/Ukraine war debilitates Basotho farmers

Russia/Ukraine war debilitates Basotho farmers

A farmer preparing cabbage seedlings for winter cropping

Story highlights

  • The conflict continues to wreak havoc on most global economies
  • Lesotho faces severe hunger as farmers were unable to plant on time

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THE Russia/Ukraine war is going to have a devastating impact on this year's winter cropping season, says acting Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Letsitsi Mokoma.

He told Parliament last week that the one-month and three weeks old war is continuing to wreak havoc globally, that is why the price of fertilisers in Lesotho has gone up so drastically. 

Mr Mokoma said manufacturers of fertilisers now sell a 50kg bag for M920, which is then sold locally at M368 after the 60 percent government subsidy.

“Before the war, the 50kg bag was sold for M160 after the governemt subsidy,” he said, adding that the prices were high due to an imported mixture called nitrate.

“The nitrate is imported from Russia only, that is why it is so expensive now," he said.

“Despite the shortages, the farmers should use the fertilisers and not keep them for summer cropping as some usually do,” he added.

Countless sanctions imposed on Russia by many countries are wreaking havoc to many economies of the world including Lesotho, resulting in the prices of fuel also skyrocketing.

The sanctions are designed to make it hard for Russia to trade with other countries around the world, including imposing a ban on their airlines.

Some countries like the UK have also put a 35 percent tax on some imports from Russia while the US has banned all Russian gas and oil.

Mr Mokoma said Lesotho was likely to face a severe hunger due to the farmers’ inability to plant on time, adding that the previous summer cropping was also unsuccessful owing to the heavy rainfalls that the country is still experiencing.

“Too much rain made it difficult for the farmers to curb pests and other crop diseases,” he said.

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He said as preparations were underway for the coming summer cropping, those who had an interest in farming for winter should go and purchase fertilisers in Ha Foso, Berea.

“This year, we made preparations on time to gather enough fertilisers in order to cater for all the farmers,” he said, adding that things would go as planned as they had planned well.

The minister has consequently invited farmers to come to Maseru to buy fertilisers as the distribution to the districts will only be done in the coming season.

 

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