Farmers smile all the way to the bank

Farmers smile all the way to the bank

MASERU – FOR a very long time, Phineas Khoete has made his money through selling livestock for slaughter at funerals and weddings.
The money would come in dribs and drabs.
But thanks to the new government’s policy to open a new abattoir, his business fortunes are on the rise.

Earlier this year, Small Businesses Development Minister Chalane Phori and his two colleagues, Trade’s Tefo Mapesela and Agriculture’s Mahala Molapo came up with a policy that forced the national abattoir, run by a private company Meraka Lesotho, to prioritise buying livestock from Basotho farmers.
Khoete says ever since Meraka Lesotho swung its doors wide open, he is making more money than when he was selling to individuals for ceremonies.
“The money I was making was not as sufficient as the one I am now making selling to Meraka,” Khoete says.

He however says it is “a bit strenuous for farmers to bring animals to the abattoir if they are far away from Maseru”.
“If perhaps there could be some sort of arrangement in which farmers come and tell Meraka about the animals they are selling and then the abattoir could collect them at one go,” he said.
He suggests that the abattoir can go around the country collecting animals for slaughter at certain pre-arranged dates and places.
He says if this initiative continues, livestock farmers will see light at the end of the tunnel.

Phori says so far 366 cows have been bought to the tune of M2 170 616 ever since Meraka Lesotho was instructed to buy from Basotho farmers.
The abattoir is said to have also increased its staff significantly.
“When this initiative started, Meraka had only 30 employees but now the abattoir employs 100 people,” Phori says.

He says it is clear that the initiative is working in favour of Basotho and taking into consideration the ailing economy, initiatives of this sort are needed to boost the economy, reduce unemployment and grow small businesses.
Mosito Khethisa, CEO for Meraka Lesotho, says so far the initiative is going well and Basotho are bringing the animals in large quantities.

“We mostly get C grade from local farmers and we buy live cattle for A grade in South Africa,” Khethisa says.
He says even butchery owners have heeded their request to bring their animals to be slaughtered at the abattoir.
“The abattoir is the only facility ideal for slaughtering in order to ensure that the meat that the public consumes is safe,” he says.

He adds that the anthrax outbreak in April affected the number of animals that were being taken to the abattoir because their movement was restricted in Maseru and Mafeteng.
Samuel Hashatsi, an advisor with the Meat Traders Association Lesotho, says it is their hope that abattoirs can also be opened at district level to meet farmers half way as Maseru is far.
“Districts like Mafeteng used to have abattoirs a long time ago, it is time they are resuscitated so that they can help reduce the traffic that goes to Maseru and cut costs for farmers,” Hashatsi says.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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