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M15m set aside to buy maize from farmers

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MASERU-THE government has set aside M15 million to buy beans and maize from local farmers which will be distributed to vulnerable communities hard hit by last year’s drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme to buy from local farmers was launched by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro in Hlotse last week.

Majoro’s deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu, presided over a similar programme in Quthing on Monday.
The Prime Minister said the government will buy the grains from local farmers following a devastating drought last year.

He said he was launching a nationwide food purchase programme to address the national food emergency and to encourage Basotho to grow their own food with the assurance that their produce will be bought.
“The food purchased will be packaged and delivered to those of our people that are in dire need of food assistance,” Dr Majoro said.

“The local food purchase programme is also intended to complement the call by government for Basotho to grow the bulk of their food by creating a market for growers,” he said.
He said it is estimated that 766 169 Basotho countrywide will be without enough food this year. Of these 582 169 live in rural areas while 184 000 people live in urban and peri-urban areas.
He said the country is in need of an estimated M1.2 billion to buy food for the poor.

Majoro immediately bought 1 373 bags of beans weighing 50 kilograms each from Leribe farmers.
His deputy Mokhothu told Quthing farmers last Monday the country is currently in a state of national disaster following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March this year.

The state of disaster will end in April next year.
Mokhothu said in June the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) conducted a study on how Basotho earn their living.
“The purpose was to assess the changes brought by Covid-19 and drought,” Mokhothu said.

He said due to lack of rains last year the 2020 harvest was impacted in a negative way and left many families without food.
“The situation became even worse when the lockdown restrictions were put in place,” he said.
He said more businesses were forced to close as a result of the lockdown which was imposed to halt the spread of the pandemic.

The study, he said, found out that 40 percent of the population in Lesotho is living below the poverty datum line.
This meant that the government had to sit down and plan how they will help combat hunger.
“The government decided to buy Basotho produce, which is maize and beans, to fill the gap caused by Covid-19 and drought,” Mokhothu said.

He added that the move will likely boost the farmers’ morale to grow more crops.
Mokhothu said Basotho should realise that it is important to work with their own hands for food production and the government will play its part by buying the produce.

“So far here at Mphaki (in Quthing district) there are 260 bags of beans weighing 50kg each and 100 bags of maize weighing 50kg,” Mokhothu said.
He said the government would buy the agricultural produce.
He said 50kg Pinto and sugar beans cost M1 150 per bag, 50kg of red beans (lebete) M1 500, while maize costs M200 per 50 kg.

In addition to that Mokhothu said the government is subsidizing seeds with 60 percent and ploughing of fields with 50 percent.
Fertilizer is also subsidized with 50 percent.
According to him their plan is to go to the seeds manufacturing companies and pay subsidy money there so that businessmen buy in bulk and sell at affordable prices to local farmers.

He also said they want Lesotho to be number one country in the sale of wool and mohair adding that they know of the problems that faced the farmers last year as they were not well paid.
“We will ensure that the businessman who did not pay Basotho is forced to do so,” he said, referring to wool and mohair brokers who are still owing farmers.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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