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Lecholi hits local meat markets


Oct. 24, 2020 5 min read

5 min read


MASERU - FIVE local farmers have pooled their resources together to form a company called ‘Lecholi’ in a bid to meet meat demands in the country.

Lecholi loosely translated means meat.

This company was registered in June at the time Lesotho was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left most farmers high and dry.

The founders of the company are individuals who already had their own companies but from different backgrounds.

The men are from Quthing, Mafeteng, Maseru, Leribe and Botha-Bothe – they came together with two common purposes in mind, to make more money and create employment in the process.

Hence, they merged their different companies in order to be in a better space to satisfy supply and meet demands of the local meat market.

Hlalele Mokhesi, one of the co-founders of the company says they have registered the company as a butchery and meat distributor to have flexibility of running the enterprise.

Unpacking how the new meat supply business operates, Mr Mokhesi says among others, they have assisted several upcoming poultry farmers who had already lost hope due to the unstable meat markets.

“We have a good deal with some of these poultry farmers - we buy their products and in turn supply big outlets in the country.

“We give them (the farmers) specifications as to the type meat we want so that they produce exactly what agreed on.

“They among others regularly supply us with five – month old piglets,” he says, adding that the business is quite promising.

At the moment they supply pork, chicken, mutton and trout fish that they purchase from local individual farmers.

They procure the trout fish from the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and sell it directly to other businesses and members of the public.  

The company is currently at an advanced stage to supply goats to the market owing to the huge goat meat demand.

“Our purpose is to sell Basotho products produced by Basotho,” Mr Mokhesi says, adding that currently business is good with potential for major growth in future.

The market for food, he says, will always be there for as long as there are people on the planet.

“People will always eat no matter the circumstances they find themselves in,” he shows.

He however, quickly shows that it appears that most poultry farmers are supplied by one producer as they normally supply in large quantities at the same time, flooding the market in the process.

“And when the market dries up, it happens to almost all of them making it difficult to satisfy demand.

“Suppliers have to find different producers so that the market is able to be run undisturbed throughout the year,” he says.

He observes that during trying times, production from local farmers falls tremendously, leaving them so compromised that they have to look for the meat outside the country.

Competition is tight for lucrative market in major local business as they compete with more resourceful foreign suppliers, especially from South Africa.

Some of the co-founders of Lecholi are university degree holders.

What they do is to dispel the long standing perception that agriculture is for the less fortunate who could not make it to tertiary.

“But there is a lot of fortune to be made in agriculture, what is needed is hard work and a lot of luck,” Mr Mokhesi says, adding that their suppliers give them good meat that competes well in the market.


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The co-founders of Lecholi

They are hopeful to soon approach the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) to seek assistance for an optimal location to run their business in the city centre.

So far, the company supplies meat to all the 10 districts of Lesotho.

“In some places, these entrepreneurs have secured agents who transport the meat to other places especially in the highlands. But we make regular supplies especially in the lowlands districts,” he notes.

The company is currently working towards branding its products for better recognition.

Having a strong brand works to build customer recognition and a competitive edge in the market.

“Your brand is what differentiates you in the marketplace,” Mr Mokhesi adds.

For the company, creation of employment is a priority as it helps develop the general economy of the country.

“We therefore saw an opportunity to use agriculture to curtail the high unemployment rate that stands at 33.68%, especially amongst the youth,” he also says.

It was only three weeks ago when thousands of Basotho youth flocked to the Ministry of Home Affairs offices, queuing up for jobs.

Huge numbers of youth were also seen a fortnight ago trying their luck at the Ministry of Police to fill only 250 vacant police recruits posts.

Lesotho relies heavily on South Africa for most of its agricultural produce and statistics show that millions of maloti are coughed out on an annual basis to procure food.

 

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