THE government through the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) has struck a M405 million deal to partner an Israeli company in the cultivation and processing of high value hemp products.
The name of the Israeli company partnering the LNDC is Monitin Chevra Le’Kidum Ha’Taasia Be’Israel.
The multi-million maloti deal was announced on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki in Qeme- the place where the production facilities will be set up.
The deal is in line with the LNDC’s long-term strategy of venturing into high value agricultural projects.
The project entails the industrial cultivation and processing of agro-medicinal products and super-foods on an annual basis.
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It can be spun into usable fibre, processed into various commercial items including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
Speaking at the Thursday ceremony to announce the deal, Dr Moleleki said the project would unlock economic activity in Qeme by creating thousands of jobs.
“This partnership will unlock significant economic activity in this part of our country and create thousands of jobs in Qeme, Matsieng and the out-laying areas as far as Rothe, Koro-koro and beyond,” Dr Moleleki said.
“What you are witnessing here today reflects the mandate and efforts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to attract foreign investment in order to diversify Lesotho’s industrial base and markets, to improve our trade balance with key trading partners, to stabilise our foreign currency reserves and to generate employment opportunities for Basotho.”
Dr Moleleki said the project was also in line with the government’s National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II) which focused on inclusive and sustainable private sector-led economic growth as a preferred development pathway for the country.
“The plan aligns with the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063- both of which provide a blueprint for a global partnership between the public sector and private sector to reduce global poverty through investments in sustainable agriculture and manufacturing.
“The land before us is where the first phase of this project will be rolled out. During the next three and half years, the project will engage in the industrial scale cultivation, fabrication, processing, manufacturing and export of hemp and its derivatives which include medical products, and super foods.
“This area under cultivation will grow from 8 hectares to 1500 hectares starting here in Qeme and Matsieng and stretching to other outlaying constituencies. The processing and manufacturing facilities will be at Ha Tikoe industrial estate covering over 10 000 square metres of factory space.”
“The project will generate thousands of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for commercial farmers. The investor has made commitments to deepen corporate social investment activities by giving preference to the local community for employment opportunities and developing local infrastructure. The investor will also partner with the National University of Lesotho on skills and research within the agro-medical space,” Dr Moleleki said.