Training tackles market access constraints for farmers

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Bereng Mpaki

EIGHTEEN farmers will today complete a five-day capacitation training on Global G.A.P (good agricultural practices) standards under the training of livestock farm assurers.

Farm assurers are independent, on-site advisors and consultants who help producers navigate the steps necessary for implementing good agricultural practices and obtaining Global GAP certification.

Global GAP is a brand of smart farm assurance solutions developed in Germany with cooperation from producers, retailers, and other stakeholders from across the food industry.

The partnership includes the Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB), the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), FinMark Trust, and the Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing Ministry.

Speaking during the farm assurers’ training launch yesterday, director of marketing in the Agriculture ministry, Lekhooe Makhate, said the trained farm assurers would be expected to train other farmers on market standards compliance.

“These trainees are the nucleus which will train others towards ensuring their production facilities conform to international market standards and also that agriculture lives up to the expectation of being a key economic driver,” Mr Makhate said.

On her part, Mabula Tšoene from the UNDP, said they were happy to be part of the partnership as they were aware that agriculture was one of the resilient sectors that would be critical in the post Covid-19 economic recovery.

Overall, a Global GAP expert will train 50 farm assurers who have already been selected. Following completion of today’s training, the next training will target two groups of 20 candidates each. These will be trained to become consultants in the fruit and vegetable production subsectors.

Once certified, the major responsibility of farm assurers will be to train farmers in the designated value chains to help them implement the agreed farming practices and meet the set standards.

The programme is meant to promote the agriculture into becoming a viable venture that can develop the economy as one of the key sectors identified to drive economic development under the second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II).

Local farmers have in the past been constrained by lack of recognised production standards which kept them out of formal markets. But through the partnership of the Green Value Chains (GVC) and the Supplier Development Programme (LSDP) initiatives, this could soon be a thing of the past.

GVC seeks to contribute to the national recovery agenda, by promoting the green economy through value chains. The project is meant to build capacity and resilience of the local agricultural sector to produce and supply the local market through sustainable production, processing, and marketing processes.

 

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