World Bank upbeat on Lesotho projects
WORLD Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Paul Noumba Um, has expressed satisfaction with the progress at the World Bank funded projects that included the Likhothola Fruit Farm in Mahobong in the Leribe district.
Mr Um who is also the Country Director for South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, said this during his recent visit to Lesotho from 8 to 11 August where he toured the projects and also met with representatives of the new government.
Government changed hands in Lesotho in the aftermath of the 3 June snap elections when the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention formed a coalition with the Alliance of Democrats, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
They replaced the former seven parties’ regime that was headed by Democratic Congress leader, Pakalitha Mosisili.
In addition to assessing progress at the World Bank-funded projects, Mr Um’s visit was also aimed at deepening the partnership between Lesotho and the World Bank.
He also visited the Likhothola Fruit Farm and expressed satisfaction with the progress at the farm which produces peaches, apples, apricots and plums for domestic consumption and export.
The project is supported by the World Bank under the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP).
The farm’s produce is marketed under the brand name, Mountain Harvest and sold in major retail outlets such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Fruit&Veg, Game as well as informal businesses.
Some of the produce is also exported to Bloemfontein in South Africa.
Mr Um also visited a site that has been identified for the reconstruction of a footbridge in Likhakeng, Leribe.
The bridge will be built with the support of the Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity Project (TICP) which seeks to improve access to agricultural markets and tourist sites.
Under the TICP, 35 footbridges will be constructed in targeted rural areas around the country and the project is also expected to create 500 construction jobs for locals.
Mr Um’s final stop was at the Tlohang Meriting Farmers Association- a greenhouse vegetable production farm in Peka. The farmers’ group is supported under the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP).
The association planted 900 tomato seedlings and harvested 247 boxes each weighing seven kilogrammes. The SADP project aims to increase market output among beneficiaries in Lesotho’s smallholder agricultural sector.
To date, the project has supported over 270 smallholder farms in Mafeteng, Berea, Leribe and Butha-Buthe districts.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Um said it was important that he witnessed firsthand the projects where the “World Bank is investing and what progress has been achieved”.
“The community and the farmers should eat healthy and sustain their energy, not just sell.
“With the direction these projects are taking, everything is possible.
“This is a conviction we have to push across the country,” Mr. Um said.
He also said that the farming projects would help address the challenge of malnutrition.
“Lesotho is a malnutrition stricken country, one out of three children won’t be able to perform or compete with their peers, and these projects could change that,” he said.