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The beauty of the bee business

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QACHA’S NEK – THEY at times can be a real nuisance.
When cornered they can sting, buzz around and crawl inside the house.
And when they irritate us we call the experts to fumigate them or remove them from our houses.
Without them, there would be no life as we know it.

Researchers say at least a third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. Without these small insects, our crops would not be pollinated.
That would spell disaster for humanity, they say. Yet, for Tšeliso Moeti, 34, from Qacha’s Nek, bees are neither a nuisance nor an irritation.
That is because Moeti’s bee project is helping put bread on the table for him and his family.

Moeti believes that the time is coming when commercial farmers will hire beekeepers to bring bees to their farms so that they can help with cross pollination.
This practice is already being implemented in commercially advanced farming countries such as the United States where an online magazine says “bees provide essential pollination services to US fruit, vegetable and seed growers”.

The magazine says this adds “$8-14 billion annually to farm income, ensuring a continuous supply of healthy and affordable foods for the consumer”.
“About 2 million colonies are rented by growers each year to service over 90 crops,” it says. “Over the past five years, the percentage of income from pollination services has increased and overtaken honey,” the magazine says.

Moeti, who only went to school as far as Form E, may not be aware of the ground-breaking research on pollination in the Western world.
His focus at present appears to raising bees, collect honey and sell it to his neighbours.

He says after he finished school, he could not secure a job because he did not do too well in his Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) exams.
He says he bumped into the bee-keeping business accidentally after he attended a training programme run by the Ministry of Forestry in 2007.
While he was taught how to catch bees, he was still to master the art of rearing bees so they could stay in his hives.
He would go out in the countryside to catch the bees, bring them home but soon after they would be gone, back to the wild.
“That was tiring but I never lost hope,” Moeti says.

“I never lost hope as I had nowhere to go because I’m not educated and our country does not have enough jobs for everyone.”
With time, through a personal study of how bees build their combs, their activities and the arrangement of their dwellings Moeti became a successful bee charmer.
Today, those who aspire to run a similar business go to him and buy bees to keep at their homes or farms.

Moeti charges M500 for fetching bees from the wild if a customer has spotted where they are, and M1 000 if he is the one to search for a hive.
He also charges an additional M500 for making a special hive in which a colony will feel comfortable to build its nest.
He says he has so far trained 15 bee farmers countrywide some of whom are now keeping bees for commercial purposes.

“Beginning in 2009 things went well. I use good techniques of collecting these bees and even the way I keep them is very different from the way I did before,” he says.
He says the good thing about bee farming, if you know how to catch and bring them to your home, is that you do not need any capital except your hands and brains.
All you have to do is to plant a lot of flowers around the hive, have water nearby, and that is all.

He says his only challenge is when flowers wither in winter and the bees have less to eat because they live on nectar.
“They do not have much honey and sometimes they die,” Moeti says.
“Also, they die when it is rainy and they are not well sheltered. They are not able to search for nectar when it is raining for several consecutive days,” he says.
“The less they eat the less they produce honey.”

Moeti cautions that the keeper must ensure that the young ones do not die “because the entire colony will fly away and never come back. They do not live with the dead”.
“The other problem is that the equipment for bees is not available in Lesotho and to import such material is very expensive,” he says.
Moeti says the business of bee-keeping is good because many people do not just buy honey for food but also for its medicinal value.
“Honey is a medicine when it is mixed with some products so many people buy it. It can also be used as a body cream and it helps people who want to defy the signs of age grow old to remain younger and be stronger,” Moeti says.

“The bee sting has medicinal value in that it is used to treat arthritis and stroke,” he says.
Since the 1930s, researchers have been refining extraction techniques to collect bee venom, because bee stings can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, and other diseases.
Propolis, a glue like plant resin that bees use to maintain the comb, is used in cosmetics and healing creams and may have antibiotic or anaesthetic properties.
Honey is also used in the production of royal jelly, bees’ wax, propolis, pollen, bee venom and other products.

Beeswax from cell caps and old combs is also used for high-quality candles, pharmaceuticals, lotions, and friction-reducing waxes for skis and surfboards.
Food additives for humans and domestic animals are made from bee-collected pollen and from royal jelly, which bees produce as food for their larvae.
“I have 10 boxes of bees, one box contains 10kg of honey or sometimes contains 20kg of honey,” Moeti says.
He sells a 500 gramms bottle of honey for M75.

A 10kg box of honey goes for M1 500 while a 20kg container sells for M3 000.
In a year Moeti makes M30 000 from honey sales “which is a good profit because I did not buy any bee”.
“This business helps me a lot because I never went far with my education,” he says.

Moeti says he used to be a small-scale crop farmer and would sometimes get temporary jobs at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during elections.
“This is a very good business and I wish people can take this opportunity,” he says.

“Many Basotho are interested because I have helped 15 people and they are now successfully running similar businesses while 46 are still undergoing training so that they can do this business too,” he says.
“I think this can reduce poverty and our standard of living will be better.”

Thooe Ramolibeli

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Jobs galore for Lesotho

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94 000 jobs.

That is what the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Lesotho) will create in the next 10 years, according to Prime Minister Sam Matekane.

The MCA-Lesotho was created by the Lesotho parliament last year after the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) found Lesotho eligible to receive development funds.

The MCC gives development grants to poor countries that respects democratic principles and human rights.

The MCC has unlocked a staggering US$322 million (over M5 billion) to the government of Lesotho after the country enacted three laws the protect people’s basic rights this week.

Matekane advised youths to visit MCA-Lesotho offices to understand how best they can benefit from the fund and the projects that will be financed.

The MCC’s investments are aimed at increasing the availability of water for household and industrial use, enhance watershed management and conservation methods, rehabilitate health infrastructure and strengthen health systems, and remove barriers to private investment.

The MCA-Lesotho’s Health and Horticulture Compact seeks to assist the country in unlocking equitable and sustainable economic growth in partnership with the private sector by addressing key constraints to growth.

Matekane said the job creation potential of the horticulture project alone is estimated at 4 000 jobs.

This excludes indirect jobs that will be created through packaging supplies, logistics, cold chain activities as well as the processing of the output.

“Let us all be ready and ensure we spend all the funding that is available,” Matekane said.

He said the money is going to be invested in agriculture, trade and industry, value chains, infrastructure development, tourism and creative sectors.

“The Compact has come at a critical time when the country is in dire need of financial injections to revive the economy,” he said.

“This second Compact forms the core of Lesotho’s private sector-led economic growth, recovery and job creation agenda.”

He said the MCA staff should work diligently, to implement this Compact.

“There are several Basotho businesses out there that are eager to seize the opportunities that the Compact brings,” Matekane said.

“Serve them with integrity, accountability and dedication.”

Matekane said the government has established the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the Compact which is under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Nthomeng Majara.

The sub-committee is mandated to ensure that the government provides overall oversight, strategic direction and support for successful implementation of the Compact.

He said he expects the MCA-Lesotho to ensure the full implementation of the project within the next five years.

“Our economy needs this capital injection to boost productivity and job creation,” Matekane said.

Matekane said the government had to enact three pieces of legislation which were necessary to support the investments that the MCC is making.

The enacted laws are the Labour Code Amendment Bill, the Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill and the Occupational Safety and Health Bill.

Majara Molupe

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Bank spearheads career expo

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Standard Lesotho Bank will tomorrow host a career expo at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre for high school students who will sit for their final exams this year.
The 14th Annual Standard Lesotho Bank Career Expo was launched in Mokhotlong on Monday where the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) welcomed students in areas around the Polihali Dam construction site.

On Tuesday the expo was at the Butha-Buthe Community High School, yesterday it was at Assumption High School in Teya-Teyaneng while today it is in Quthing at Holy Trinity High School.

The five-day nationwide event is dedicated to connecting ambitious Basotho youths with exciting career opportunities.

Standard Lesotho Bank says it’s career expo “is a cornerstone of the bank’s commitment to empowering Basotho youth and shaping the future of Lesotho’s workforce”.

The 2024 edition of the event is the 14th where the bank is now the headline sponsor of this important expo that reaches about over 10 000 students countrywide.

The expo promises to be an even better offering where over 35 institutions of higher learning from Lesotho and South Africa as well as professional bodies will explain different career options to Basotho students.

Standard Lesotho Bank communications manager, Manyathela Kheleli, said students in Mokhotlong did not only learn about different engineering disciplines but got to appreciate engineering in action at Polihali.

He said it was a lifetime experience for students from Mokhotlong, “thanks to the collaboration with LHDA, who are fully responsible for the Polihali leg of the event”.

There were also motivational speakers from different professions in the bank and other selected institutions.

Key influencers in the football fraternity, former Likuena captain and now Corporate Responsibility Manager at Letšeng Diamonds, Tšepo Hlojeng, and former Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard, Steve Lekoelea, are among the influencers that have been invited to address the students.

The event is a sponsorship initiative under Personal and Private Banking that is open to all youths, communities, and individuals, where the bank intends to use this event to drive the new Youth or student Customer Value Proposition and attract high school students to open accounts ahead of their enrolment into tertiary institutions.

The objective of this sponsorship is to first create an environment where future leaders of Lesotho will be nurtured and informed of top career choices that demonstrate various skills requirements for the growth of Lesotho’s economy.

Secondly, the career expo is a clear demonstration of the bank’s intention to put youths at the centre of its initiatives.

This position is shown by the bank’s initiative to not only develop special products for youths, such as the Youth Account but also through several initiatives that promote youth empowerment. These include the bursary scheme and the Bacha Entrepreneurship Project.

“We are more than a bank for our youths, but a good corporate citizen and a partner for the education for Basotho,” Kheleli said.

“We believe that as we grow our youths, they will become assets to this country and by extension, develop into a feeder market for our banking products when they enter the job market,” he said.

The bank has invested M150 000 towards sponsorship of the annual Career Expo.

Staff Reporter

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Ministry launches fresh industrialisation drive

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A new policy to drive industrialisation in Lesotho was launched in Maseru this week.
The Lesotho National Industrialisation Policy 2024–2028 is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade.

The ministry says the policy seeks to accelerate economic diversification in the industrial base, enhance productivity and productive capacity for industrialisation and advance domestic and regional value chains for industrialisation.

It also seeks to promote and develop industrial clustering, promote inclusive industrialisation, support entrepreneurship development and strengthen business linkages.
The new policy will also seek to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability, promoting technology adoption and innovation, services-based industrialisation, and stimulating agro-based industrialisation.

This is not the first time Lesotho has launched an industrialisation policy. Previous policies have all failed.

The first attempt was the 2015–2017 industrial policy, whose aim was to accelerate the industrialisation agenda and address key challenges facing the country.

The second one was the 2018–2023 policy, which after its unsuccessful execution during the three years of implementation, the government extended it to the National Strategic Development Plan Strategic Focus (2023/24-2027/28).

The new industrial policy’s target is set to activate implementation on innovation to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of domestic industries, create decent jobs and improve the welfare of Basotho.

Thabo Moleko, the Ministry of Trade Principal Secretary, said the implementation of the new policy is set to deepen economic growth, promote industrialisation and enhance competitiveness.

“The plan includes greater investment in industrial development with the intention to create employment and incomes while building on maintaining the existing industrial trade,” Moleko said.

Mamello Nchake, a consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA), said the development goals of the industrial policy are set to ensure an achievable inclusiveness and equitable growth as they aim to create sector-led quality jobs for Basotho.

Nchake said the goals are meant to “develop and maintain enabled infrastructure that is critical to the private sectors and also to promote gender equality, environmental and climate risk management”.

“Moreover, the policy (will seek to) harness the collaboration with private sector firms to address common challenges and promote industrialisation,” she said.

The workshop discussed constraints that hindered the implementation of the 2018 – 2023 policy that undermined investment and trade opportunities.

The constraints include access to land for investment, inadequate provision of infrastructure, an outdated and a lack of appropriate regulatory environment, low productive capacity, market size and topological constraints, unstable macroeconomic environment, external factors, and over-dependency of trade preferences.

To address the strategic objectives, the previous industrial policies had proposed tax incentives for industrial development, trade policy and regional integration as the main vehicle for industrialisation and structural transformation.

They had also proposed mechanisms for policy coordination and implementation, institutional alignment and linkages.

However, several key challenges were identified in the implementation of the 2015-2017 industrial policy.

They included limited financial and investment capacity to effectively implement the industrial policy actions.

“Financing instruments are not aligned with the level of development needs of the private sector,” stakeholders heard at the workshop.

They also heard that there is “persistent dependency on few industries that poses risks in the face of global economic uncertainties and ever-changing consumer preferences”.
Another identified problem is limited investment climate that makes it costly for foreign firms to invest in Lesotho.

It was also observed that a shortage of specialised education and skills crucial for growth of industries impact the ability of firms to adopt advanced technologies and improve productivity and the productive capacity.

Stakeholders also heard that there is limited global competitiveness and access to global markets.

Lesotho’s industries, they heard, particularly textiles and garments, face competition from other low-cost manufacturing countries.

The country is also spooked by poor coordination between the implementing agencies due to a lack of a clear implementation framework.

Khahliso ’Molaoa

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