WFP lifts local farmers

WFP lifts local farmers

LERIBE – IN a move set to boost the fortunes of local farmers, the World Food Programme (WFP), UN agency, has bought huge quantities of beans from Basotho smallholder farmers.
The WFP issued a cheque of M975 000 to Leribe Tractor Owners Association and M494 000 to Temo-Mmoho Agric Association on Monday.
The beans, handed over to the WFP at the Mineworkers Development Project in Sekamaneng, amounted to 76 metric tons.
The Director of WFP Lesotho, Mary Njoronge, said the initiative involves direct purchases of food commodities from farmer associations in Lesotho for the government’s school feeding programme.

She said the government of Lesotho, in partnership with WFP, provides at least one nutritious and safe meal to 390 000 students per day in primary schools and early childhood centres.
The National School Feeding Policy promotes a home-grown school feeding approach and advocates that nutritious and safe food for the school meals be procured locally.
“WFP is therefore supporting the government of Lesotho to implement the National School Feeding Policy, in line with its global corporate target to procure at least 10 percent of all food requirements from Local Smallholder Farmers (SHFs),” Njoroge said.

She said the Local Purchase Initiative (LPI) is a pilot project that is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 2 that speaks to ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030. The local purchase initiative is also linked to the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II, which emphasizes the role of the private sector as a driver of economic prosperity and development in Lesotho.

Njoroge stated that the five-year development blue print views agriculture as a key sector in Lesotho’s fight against hunger, poverty, stunting, malnutrition and other social evils.
The local purchase initiative has led to the development of value chains in agricultural commodities, thereby creating a much needed market for small holder farmers, officials said.
This will help stimulate more production from the rural economy as farmers are guaranteed a market for their produce.

“It should inject cash to rural economy which has over the past 50 years relied on miner’s remittances and government transfers,” said Njoroge, adding that more money in farmers’ pockets meant more children would be able to go to school. The initiative should also help Lesotho reduce its import bill.
Njoronge further said the WFP faced major challenges when it started working with Basotho farmers.

Matete Leuta from Leribe Tractor Owners Association said farmers supply the entire Leribe with beans, urging the government to recognise the association.
Leuta expressed gratitude to the WFP for buying their products. Molete Mokobori, who spoke on behalf of the Likhetlane MP, said the community encountered extreme drought, and urged the government and WFP to help with irrigation infrastructure.

Tokase Mphutlane

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