World Bank to support smallholder farmers

World Bank to support smallholder farmers

MASERU – THE World Bank has approved US$10 million (about M136 million) from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Lesotho’s ongoing Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP). The money will be used to improve the production in smallholder farms.

Under SADP, which started in March 2012, over 55 000 beneficiaries across four of Lesotho’s ten districts (Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Berea and Mafeteng) have received grants and technical assistance to boost their productivity and market access. Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing are now part of the project. The money will also be channeled towards climate-smart production. “Smallholder farming has great potential to feed people and help boost economic growth,” said World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Paul Noumba.

Noumba is also serving Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “The World Bank is committed to partnering with Lesotho in its endeavor to fight poverty and sustainably grow its economy,” Noumba said. Grants will be awarded to farmers to test and demonstrate new business initiatives and technological innovations, especially those that focusing on climate-smart agriculture (agricultural practices that increase productivity, build resilience, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions).

Under the additional financing, farmer groups, as well as government agencies, will also be supported to improve food quality and safety standards.
“A lot of traction has been made in promoting the commercialization of smallholder agriculture in the various project districts,” Agriculture Minister Mahala Molapo said.

“These funds will focus on continuing to increase the capacity of farmers in Lesotho and to build more productive climate resilient commercial agriculture systems,” Molapo said. Nearly 60 percent of Basotho live in the rural areas where agriculture is the sole means of their livelihoods.
Crop production has however continued to slide due to drought and poor soils, leaving the rural areas in the grip of hunger. Erosion also continues to gnaw the little arable land Lesotho has.

What remains is being divided into smaller pieces as the population increases. Initiatives like the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) are trying to help farmers produce more from their small pieces of land. The World Bank’s IDA, established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for project and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries.
Annual commitments have averaged about US$19 billion (about M258.4 billion) over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

Staff Reporter

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