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We’ll ban import of agric products, says RFP

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MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) says it might consider banning the importation of agricultural products from South Africa to promote the domestic market when it wins power in October.

The party’s spokesman, Mokhethi Shelile, said this in an interview with thepost in reaction to the launch of a new agricultural produce market centre for the northern region last week.

Shelile, who was once the head of the Domestic Investment Promotion Division at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), told thepost that such a ban would help boost local farmers.

He said for that to be effective, there would be need to support local production as the first stage.

“This is the major challenge for the market sectors currently,’’ Shelile said.

He said since the farmers’ capacity is still low, only a few products such as potatoes are banned this season. Shelile said the production sector will need special attention to help the market centre.

Once they form government, he said they will immediately implement the idea to boost local farmers.

Shelile said an RFP government is going to establish markets where farmers will be able to sell the products even before they can start with the production so that they secure the financial means of increasing the production.

He said they realised that there are farmers who are still losing on their products because they cannot access markets.

“We want to give farmers a market even before they can start,’’ he said, adding that this will encourage farmers to increase their capacity and improve their standards.

The Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU) programmes manager, Khotso Lepheane, said the setting up of the market centres will boost the farming industry in Lesotho.

“For the longest time this concept has been a good idea,” Lepheane said.

“Many potato farmers, amongst others, have benefited from this (Maseru) centre,” he said.

However, he said this concept introduction lacks a strong system which will encourage the retailers and the final consumers to buy from the market centre.

“This has caused a stagnation of products from reaching the consumers,” he said.

“This has discouraged many farmers from taking their products in the markets centre since it takes time for the products to be sold out and this might lead to damage of products.”

He said most of the farmers still consider the old method much safer. As much as the initiative is good, he said the concept cannot achieve its goal unless the market is channelled to market centres rather than seeing retailers and consumers importing what the country is producing.

“This is one of their biggest diversification mechanisms to commercial agriculture hence there are still some pricing challenges,” he said.

However, he said the cost is still bearable as compared to the role the centre plays. He said farmers still consider it as part of the change not a hiccup. Despite the challenges, he said they are still playing their role to educate farmers on how to improve their capacity and quality.

He said they also teach farmers on how the commercial sector works so that the pricing issues cannot tarnish the good initiative. He said they are also working with different departments to smoothen the supply chain.
Lepheane said they want to see more market centres being established in all the regions.

The Manager of Maluti Fresh Produce, Nthako Supi, said the market centre has the potential to encourage high productivity and boost the economy of the country. He said for the past 10 years, they were able to gather about 240 farmers who were growing crops, vegetables and fruits.

He said this year they were able to gather about 87 potato farmers and over 6 200 bags were sold out. He said they have a transparent system which allows the farmers to know and see how their products were sold and how they work. He said the centre is only entitled to the commission of the money they generated when the product is sold.

“The product belongs to the farmers until it has been sold out,’’ he said.

As much as they tried to improve their system for the sustainability of the centre, he said they still have some challenges which need to be addressed for its sustainability. He said the consistency and low productivity from the farmers’ side as one of the major challenges.

The setback, he said, is that the place where the market side is located is far from the traffic and shops hence the number of customers is still low. Supi said the major challenge is the tight competition they had with the South African producers.

He said most of the retailers and final consumers still consider buying the products in South Africa rather than supporting the market centre.

“We currently have more potatoes in our storage which are not performing so well in the market due to tight competition,’’ he said.

He said this is triggered by inconsistency of local farmers in terms of quality and quantity.

“Consumers buy what attracts their eyes, so if today consumers get a good quality product and tomorrow they get something different they lose hope in us,’’ he said.

“For the market centre to continue functioning, the market has to be regulated.”

The Public Relation Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lereko Masupha, said Lesotho still needs to import basic products from South Africa because local farmers are not able to meet demand.

“However, our consumption is so high hence we still need products from other countries,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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Directorate suspends applications to build access roads

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MASERU – THE Roads Directorate has suspended applications for the building of access roads to businesses and private homes along several main roads in Maseru.

The Directorate told a press conference on Friday that several businesses and filling stations including private homes along the main roads in the city will be affected.

The Directorate’s Director of Road Network Learning, Khasapane Kikine, said they are yet to talk to the owners of the buildings about the development.

Roads from which businesses and private homes alongside them could possibly need access roads include the Kingsway from the main traffic circle to Basotho Shield where it joins the Mpilo Boulevard.

The other road is A1, generally referred to as the Main North 1, from the main traffic circle to the National Abattoir in Khubetsoana.

Also the A2, known as the Main South 1, from the main traffic circle to Masianokeng will be affected.

The other road is A6, Moshoeshoe Road, from the main traffic circle through the Maseru West Industrial Area to where it joins Kofi Annan Road in Ha-Hoohlo.

The entire A7, Kofi Annan Road, which is from Ha-Hoohlo passing through Thetsane Industrial Area to Masianokeng is also not open for access roads to connect to it.

The B20 Road, from Thabong Circle to Lakeside traffic lights, is also another road from which buildings on its sides will not connect access roads until further notice.

The B21, from Ha-Motšoeneng to Ha-Makhoathi, the B31, which is called Lancers’ Road from Mookoli to Ha-Tšosane, the B311 in Florida to where it joins the Old TY Road (B31) that runs through

Naleli to Ha-Foso and the B60, from Seputana via Lesotho Agricultural College to Maqalika Dam are roads that will be affected.

The suspension of applications started yesterday.

Kikine said the suspension will last until the Ministry of Local Government has completed the Land Use Plan (Maseru 2050 Master Plan) or when the Roads Directorate has completed a review of the design guidelines.

Kikine said the main reason to the suspension is the increased volumes of storm water run-offs causing drainage blockages due to new access roads.

“This causes rapid deterioration of the road pavement layers which leads to development of potholes,” Kikine said.

“The current design guidelines prohibit access within a space of 500 minimums and 600 maximums respectively depending on factors of the land available.”

He said the problem is caused by increased level of traffic disruptions by traffic trails into businesses, which disrupts traffic flow.

Kikine said high level of encroachment by businesses causes loading and on and off-loading in the road reserve, which disrupts traffic flow.

He said this has increased accidents due to reduced sight distances caused by encroachments.

“The Roads Directorate has reached a decision that all existing filling stations along these roads should be re-configured to serve uni-directional traffic, as a result eliminating all right turning movements,” he said.

“As the Roads Directorate we have approached owners of the filling stations and talked to them, but we are still going to meet with them again and discuss in details the suspension of roads and how their businesses are going to be affected and whether they are willing to work hand-in-hand with us.”

Tholoana Lesenya

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2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds

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MASERU – TWO more Basotho students last Friday received full scholarships to study mining related courses from Letšeng Diamonds.

Neo Metsing will study for a BSc Honours in Geology while Lekunutu Letela will enroll for a National Diploma in Millwright.

Letšeng Diamonds will foot the bill for their studies.

The duo joins Relebohile Malebo, Tšepo Molongoana, Sebongile Motseki, and Lebellang Tšephe who are already benefiting from the scholarships.

Phutheho Maphatšoe and Matlali Seutloali are expected to graduate soon.

Letšeng Diamonds’ boss, Kelebone Leisanyane, said each student “deserves a pat on the back for making it through the rigorous selection process of this prestigious scholarship”.

“I am confident that the level of academic guidance and support that they will receive while studying will be fulfilling and enriching,” Leisanyane said.

Leisanyane said the recipients should be grateful to their parents, guardians and their teachers for nurturing their intellectual and academic talents.

“My humble plea to you is that upon completion of your studies, you should come back and serve your communities and this nation,” he said.

“The skills and knowledge you would have acquired are needed to grow and develop the diamond mining industry in this country. I wish you the very best as you commence this important journey in your life.”

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd said it is committed to providing scholarships to deserving Basotho in response to the need for critical skills and expertise in the diamond mining sector.

Scholarships are offered to students currently studying or interested in pursuing tertiary qualifications that are related to the development of the country’s mineral resources.

Every year, prospective students and future mining professionals from all over Lesotho are invited to apply for the scholarship.

Then a competitive and rigorous selection process follows.

The company said in the end, not only the best candidates are selected “but people who will be ambassadors of the company and the nation as a whole”.

To make sure that the students are ready for the job market, a two-year internship is offered at Letšeng Diamonds after completion of studies.

The mine says this is done to equip students with necessary skills and experience.

Permanent employment is offered to top performing students at the internship programme.

Since the inception of the Letšeng scholarships in 2006, scholarships have been awarded to 45 young Basotho, 25 of whom have been employed full-time at the mine.

The educational scholarships form part of Letšeng’s corporate social responsibility and investment programme.

The company says the aim of the programme is to foster social and economic development that will sustain communities beyond the life of the mine.

On behalf of all students, Neo Metsing said they are very grateful to Letšeng that they were able to further their studies.

She said if it was not for Letšeng they would have not have been able to study outside the country.

Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, said “one gets to be successful when preparedness meets opportunities”.

“We live in an infinite world and every single thought in this world can be transformed into its physical equivalent,” Moleko said.

He said he is happy for all students and wished them well.

Tholoana Lesenya

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2 more students win scholarships from Letšeng Diamonds

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on

MASERU – TWO more Basotho students last Friday received full scholarships to study mining related courses from Letšeng Diamonds.

Neo Metsing will study for a BSc Honours in Geology while Lekunutu Letela will enroll for a National Diploma in Millwright.

Letšeng Diamonds will foot the bill for their studies.

The duo joins Relebohile Malebo, Tšepo Molongoana, Sebongile Motseki, and Lebellang Tšephe who are already benefiting from the scholarships.

Phutheho Maphatšoe and Matlali Seutloali are expected to graduate soon.

Letšeng Diamonds’ boss, Kelebone Leisanyane, said each student “deserves a pat on the back for making it through the rigorous selection process of this prestigious scholarship”.

“I am confident that the level of academic guidance and support that they will receive while studying will be fulfilling and enriching,” Leisanyane said.

Leisanyane said the recipients should be grateful to their parents, guardians and their teachers for nurturing their intellectual and academic talents.

“My humble plea to you is that upon completion of your studies, you should come back and serve your communities and this nation,” he said.

“The skills and knowledge you would have acquired are needed to grow and develop the diamond mining industry in this country. I wish you the very best as you commence this important journey in your life.”

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd said it is committed to providing scholarships to deserving Basotho in response to the need for critical skills and expertise in the diamond mining sector.

Scholarships are offered to students currently studying or interested in pursuing tertiary qualifications that are related to the development of the country’s mineral resources.

Every year, prospective students and future mining professionals from all over Lesotho are invited to apply for the scholarship.

Then a competitive and rigorous selection process follows.

The company said in the end, not only the best candidates are selected “but people who will be ambassadors of the company and the nation as a whole”.

To make sure that the students are ready for the job market, a two-year internship is offered at Letšeng Diamonds after completion of studies.

The mine says this is done to equip students with necessary skills and experience.

Permanent employment is offered to top performing students at the internship programme.

Since the inception of the Letšeng scholarships in 2006, scholarships have been awarded to 45 young Basotho, 25 of whom have been employed full-time at the mine.

The educational scholarships form part of Letšeng’s corporate social responsibility and investment programme.

The company says the aim of the programme is to foster social and economic development that will sustain communities beyond the life of the mine.

On behalf of all students, Neo Metsing said they are very grateful to Letšeng that they were able to further their studies.

She said if it was not for Letšeng they would have not have been able to study outside the country.

Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, said “one gets to be successful when preparedness meets opportunities”.

“We live in an infinite world and every single thought in this world can be transformed into its physical equivalent,” Moleko said.

He said he is happy for all students and wished them well.

Tholoana Lesenya

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