‘Let’s abandon block farming scheme’

Maseribane urges coalition partners

By Billy Ntaote

MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) Leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, wants government to audit the impact of the block farming scheme policy towards hunger and poverty alleviation since its inception.
The scheme, in which the partly government-owned Standard Lesotho Bank provides credit guarantees for farmers to access credit, was started during the2006/2007 financial year.

In recent years the scheme has been mired in controversy following allegations that some senior
government officials could have improperly benefitted from the scheme meant to assist budding farmers.
Timothy Thahane, former Finance Minister in the previous government led by Pakalitha Mosisili, stands accused of misappropriating himself to nearly M24 million meant for farmers in Leribe who he was supposed tomentor.

The case is before the ‘Let’s abandon block farming scheme’ Maseribane urges coalition partners
courts. Speaking at an end of year BNP rally held at Ha Mamathe, ’Maseribane said it was time
government audited what impact the block farming scheme had made towards alleviating
poverty as many Basotho continue to wallow in poverty.

He said the best alternative to the block farming schemes was to reintroduce Food Self-sufficiency Programme (‘Mantšatlala) introduced in the 1970s by the BNP government of the day. Block farming is a policy meant to nurture commercial farming while mantšatla was a policy more inclined towards
enhancing subsistence farming hence self sufficiency.

’Maseribane said it was high time his coalition government partners in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) adopted the BNP policy of Mantšatlala, saying it proved to be the best way of hunger and poverty alleviation in the past.

’Maseribane is the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation in the coalition government.
“I’m on a mission to strongly advocate and sell to my coalition partners that we should return to using Mantšatlala as opposed to block farming,” he said.

He said government should critically analyse the impact of the block farming and its contribution to Lesotho’s economic growth and poverty alleviation.

“We really need to make an assessment of where exactly our grain crops, especially maize and beans crops, came from during the years we implemented this block farming,” ’Maseribane said.
He said the block farming policy which he said was unclear and had failed Basotho.

’Maseribane told the rally the BNP government in the 1970s ended building silos as Basotho were capable of producing enough to feed themselves and sell their surplus produce to the Lesotho Flour Mills, the country’s premier milling company.

He said another milestone that was born out of the Mantšatlala policy was the formation of the now defunct Agriculture Bank.

’Maseribane said it has always worried him that the past administration of Mosisili never resuscitated agricultural projects that were located in different areas across the country.

He said such agricultural initiatives include the Khomokhoana, Hololo and LEMA projects.

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