Ministry to build farmers’ markets

Ministry to build farmers’ markets

Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU

THE Ministry of Small Businesses Development will build three farmers’ markets this year.

The ministry’s director of marketing, Lekhooe Makhate, said the markets will help farmers who have been struggling to sell their products.

He said the centres will connect farmers with retailers, restaurateurs, hotels and individual customers.

“It is our plan that we will have three market centres, one that will cater for producers in the northern side of the country, the central part and south side so that farmers do not feel pressurised to come to Maseru to sell their produce,”Makhate says.

“Farmers in the country have been crying that they produce products and they fail to penetrate the mainstream markets. Also, they have been struggling to sell their produce as often consumers seemed to be the ones setting prices”.

“The centre will be the one dealing with quality, quantity packaging, pricing and supply, prices will be the same.”

Makhate said the markets will ensure there is fair competition among farmers.

“When a bunch of spinach is M5, it will be that for everyone unlike now where you find one selling for M3 the other for M4 or M5 forcing everyone else to be cheaper and failing to make the desired profits,” he said.

“It is our hope that the centre will solve all market related issues that our farmers are currently faced with.”

But Makhatewas quick to point out that the markets are solving just one of the many problems farmers have to deal with before they can penetrate the commercial market.

The quality of the products will have to improve, he said.

“At the moment, our farmers do not even keep records of what they feed their produce, at what time and with what dosage.When retailers decline their produce they cry foul, failing to realise that producing for the commercial market is different from producing for their families only,” Makhate said.

He said there will be rigorous training where farmers will be taught about the quality required by retailers, minimising the chances of having their produce being rejected.

“These centres will also work as facilities where farmers can meet with retailers or other farmers to share skills, ideas and challenges”.

“We are hopeful that jobs will be created through the introduction of the centres, as we expect farmers to increase the quantity of their produce and to focus solely on producing and nothing else”.

“So there will be those who will be hired for packaging, cleaning and marketing”.

“We are also encouraging our farmers to venture into block farming so that they can make profits. Planting in small quantities is more costly than producing in huge quantities and therefore we need to see farmers coming together to produce in huge quantities,” Makhate says.

The chairman of the Lesotho Potato Association, Chaka Ntsane, said the centres are just the kind of help farmers need from the government.

“This will serve as a relief for those who are struggling to find markets as theirs will now only be to produce and not go out to seek market opportunities,” he said.

 

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