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Market Centre to boost job creation: PM

Bereng Mpaki

PRIME Minister, Thomas Thabane, says the recently launched market centre for the storage and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables is in line with the government’s policy of increasing the country’s production capacity in order to stimulate job creation and grow the economy.

The market centre, which will act as a link between local fresh farm producers and the market, was launched at recent ceremony that was attended by Dr Thabane, Trade and Industry minister, Tefo Mapesela, and the project funders, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) at Tikoe Industrial Estate in Maseru.

The facility, which will store, package and distribute produce from fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the country, is a result of funding that Lesotho received in 2010 from EIF. The EIF is an initiative of the World Trade Organisation and five core agencies, namely, the United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Trade Centre and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The initiative provides financial and technical assistance to build and improve the trade capacity in Least Developed Countries such as Lesotho.

Dr Thabane said the establishment of the market centre was step in the right direction of growing the country’s economy.

“The development of the launch of market centre is in line with the economic policy of the government to expand our productive capacity, diversify our export products and markets,” Dr Thabane said.

“The development is also about accelerating job creation and poverty reduction particularly among the youth and women.”

Mr Mapesela said the market centre will manage an inclusive supply chain of services linking producers of fresh fruits and vegetables to domestic and international markets.

“In December 2016, the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) leased out a factory shell at Ha Tikoe Industrial Estate to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to set up a Market Centre.

Modern and comprehensive equipment for storage, processing, packaging and distribution of produce from farmers of fresh fruits and vegetables to buyers was installed and successfully commissioned.  The value of the equipment installed at the Market Centre is estimated at the cost of US$2 million (M23.5 million). The aim is to have the Market Centre run by a private operator,” Mr Mapesela said.

For his part, the EIF executive Director, Ratnakar Adhikari, said the facility would provide new economic opportunities to Basotho.

“In directly connecting farmers to buyers, this new market is a truly promising initiative. Add to that the element of access to finance, and you have a host of new possibilities for incomes in Lesotho agriculture sector.

“As we have just celebrated International Women’s day, one of the beneficiaries of the greenhouse component of the project, Ms Trish Kabi created employment for 20 people.

“It is not only through the new jobs created around the greenhouses, the increased income to farmers is also resulting in investments into other smaller businesses,” Mr Adhikari said.

Ms Kabi of Alosang Enterprise is part of the network of 115 local farmers who received greenhouse packages to build their productive capacity under EIF. She and other farmers will supply produce to the market centre.

Mr Adhikari further indicated that EIF was helping Lesotho to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“With the help of new technology introduced through this project, greenhouses and hail nets have extended the growing seasons and provided some degree of protection to the changing climate patterns,” Mr Adhikari said.

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