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Mokhothu promises agriculture turnaround strategy

 

Bongiwe Zihlangu

DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, says serious state investment in agriculture is key to growing Lesotho’s economy to create jobs and end perennial food insecurity.

Addressing party supporters in Likhoele, Mafeteng yesterday, Mr Mokhothu, said the economy was very small, making it difficult to “take care of our people’s welfare”.

This is something the DC plans to address by pouring money to create a vibrant agricultural sector if elected to power in the polls due in October this year, the deputy prime minister said.

Of utmost importance, Mr Mokhothu said, is for Lesotho to manufacture its own fertiliser and other agricultural inputs.

He said upon becoming prime minister, his government would work flat out to court investors to partner with Basotho in establishing companies to manufacture fertiliser and other agricultural inputs.

“In the process, we will be creating jobs and generating revenue for the country. That will curb the chronic shortage of these commodities during farming seasons.

“If we achieve this, it means farmers will no longer be compelled to queue for hours at the government depot at Ha-Foso where some are forced to bribe workers to sell them fertiliser,” Mr Mokhothu said.

He said a DC government would introduce a 50 percent subsidy to help farmers to contain production costs to ensure food security.

His government would also set up irrigation schemes to boost farming.

“We want a situation where tanks are connected to your fields so that you can water your crops. We will ensure that Basotho produce commercial crops.

“It is wrong that truckloads of cabbage and eggs are imported from South African farms where coincidentally, the workers are hired from Lesotho.

“If I were to go the nearest border now, I will likely find a truck carrying loads of vegetables and eggs into Lesotho. It would please me one day to see trucks laden with crops from local farms headed for schools or hospitals to deliver food.

“We import eggs, chicken and pork every day. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has informed me that Lesotho uses billions to purchase eggs annually. That money could be used for capital projects.

“We must turn the situation around if we are to fight food shortages in our country. For these projects to materialise the government must invest in Basotho farmers,” Mr Mokhothu said.

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