Moroke Sekoboto | Seithati Mphatsoane
THIRTY sugar beans farmers from across the country will tomorrow sign a contract for the 2022/23 farming season with leading grain suppliers, Tasty Food Packers.
The project was initiated by the Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition ministry in 2020. It was launched last year with the support of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Speaking during a contract farming (CF) capacity development workshop in Maseru this week, FAO Lesotho project coordinator, Deborah Pokothoane, said the initiative aimed at establishing market linkages between farmers and the market through contracts.
The contract to be signed tomorrow will be reviewed at the end of the 2022/23 farming season before possible renewal.
Ms Pokothoane said they came up with the initiative in conjunction with the ministry to link farmers and businesses so that produce does not go to waste.
“In our endeavour to establish market linkages and outlets on a contractual basis, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition’s marketing department initiated the CF technical programme with support from FAO,” she said.
“I am pleased on behalf of FAO to be part of this humongous meeting with such a good turn up. I would like to pass my special thanks to the ministry. We are running this marathon of contract farming together,” she said, adding that FAO was pleased with the way the contract farming project was being run.
Apart from boosting business between farmers and buyers, the project would also enhance food security.
Ms Pokothoane said FAO encouraged efforts to boost food production, nutrition, and promoting a better environment.
“If you look at this contract farming initiative, it seeks to address all these issues. High agricultural production will improve livelihoods and the economy. That way, nobody will be left behind.”
The project would also help Lesotho address Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to achieve food security and improved nutrition and to promote sustainable agriculture.
“We focus on SDG 1, 2 and 10 which say no poverty, no hunger and reduced inequality, respectively,” she said.
The contract farming programme would be expanded to include produce such as cabbages and potatoes if the beans project succeeds, Ms Pokothoane said.