Minister sets aside M587m for farming

Minister sets aside M587m for farming

MASERU-AGRICULTURE Minister Tefo Mapesela says he has put aside M87 million to support this year’s summer cropping.
In addition, M500 million has been set aside as a loan guarantee for farmers who will borrow money from the Lesotho Post Bank, Mapesela told parliament on Tuesday.

“The government is taking the issue of hunger in the country seriously,” Mapesela said, adding that seed and fertiliser prices will be reduced by 60 percent.
Also, the government has reduced ploughing costs (lekote) by 50 percent, and has pleaded with tractor owners to make their tractors available for use by the government.

“The government will pay half and the field owner the other half,” Mapesela said.
He said the government has ordered 50 000 bags of fertilizers but only 11 000 were delivered, while some transporters have been overcharging farmers for moving the fertilizers.

“A fertilizer bag costs M134 but the business people sell it at M300,” Mapesela said.
Faced with this problem, he asked MPs to get lists of farmers who need fertilisers so that the product is delivered using government vehicles.
He said the government has purchased tractors that farmers can buy without paying a mark-up on the factory price.

“If a tractor costs M50 000, Basotho would get it at that amount and not for more,” the minister said.
The tractors would be available from Monday next week, he said.
Speaking about the credit guarantee scheme, Mapesela said the M500 million set aside is meant to ensure farmers have access to capital for farming.

The money will not be paid to farmers but directly to approved suppliers of resources that the farmers would have identified.
Meanwhile, Mapesela said the government has decided to hand Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMP) centres to farmers.

He told parliament that 22 shearing sheds were supposed to be built under the WAMP project but only 18 have been completed.
“We will buy new equipment for all the shearing sheds,” Mapesela said, adding that the government equipped some of the old centres with new equipment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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