The cool Chinese cucumber

The cool Chinese cucumber

MASERU – AFTER searching for jobs in vain for years, two brothers from Ha-’Masana opted to go farming to survive.
The Malataliana brothers, who are both university graduates, see their future when they look at the Dong Qiang Huang Qua (Chinese cucumber), green pepper, butternut, carrots and tomatoes they have planted.
Sello, one of the brothers, said that they chose to produce the Chinese cucumber because their target market is mostly Chinese.
“Once we deliver to the Chinese, they get so excited that they praise it,” he said.

Sello, 38, graduated from the National University of Lesotho with a degree in Public Administration and Political Science.
His brother, 33-year-old Mosala, holds a Tourism Management qualification from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
“We have found stability in commercial organic farming,” said Sello, adding that their college certificates have failed to land them jobs for more than seven years.

With some experience passed on to him by their late father who was a subsistence farmer, Sello said he started planting crops in 2012. Since then, the business has been thriving, he said.
“Each of us is expecting two greenhouses from SADP (Smallholder Agricultural Development Project),” he said.
He said he started off as a subsistence farmer and gradually grew his project into a commercial venture.

“Little did I know that I would be able to make a living and curb the alarming rate of unemployment in my country by hiring a few people as a farmer,” he said.
He said they have temporary employees whom they hire seasonally to cultivate the fields, remove weeds and carry out other tasks.
Mosala, the younger brother, joined him in 2017.

“I had to join him as he was mastering the art of farming,” said Mosala.
“Since childhood, our late father used to plant crops at home after knocking off from work and we were expected to learn,” said Mosala. “That is how our love for farming developed,” he said.
He said their partnership has “blossomed”, adding that they have managed to buy a piece of land to expand their business.
“We are positive that productivity will increase,” he said.
Sello said the market “is very good”.

“Now that we have a steady market, we are about to expand our business,” he said.
But that means hard work and hands on management.
“We keep checking them (crops) from morning until night,” he said.

Their hard work has not gone unnoticed. The Smallholder Agricultural Development Project (SADP) is now assisting them with four more greenhouses.
“These grants are available for everyone. People should grab the opportunity with both hands if they indeed want to grow in this business,” said Sello.
He said farmers should strive to get grants for greenhouses because there is need “by all means cover plants so that they can survive even under climate change attack”.
“There are so many grants,” he said.

He said that they have already secured space in one of the fields for the greenhouses.
“In a few years’ time we will be able to give Basotho what they demand. We will produce more,” chipped in Mosala.
He said a brewery greenhouse grant that his brother got in 2016 “helped a lot in protecting crops”.
The hard-hitting droughts in recent years have been a major cause for concern but “the greenhouse and net saved the crops”, said Sello.
He now speaks with the authority of a master farmer, but when he started out, he never imagined running a greenhouse project and producing enough vegetables to supply even supermarkets.
“We have so many orders. We have to work very hard to satisfy the demand,” he said.

’Mapule Motsopa

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