Farmers receive agricultural inputs subsidy boost for summer cropping season
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By Lineo Ramatlapeng
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Likopo Mahase has urged farmers to persevere and defy the odds and utilize the Lesotho government agricultural subsidies program intended to lower the cost of purchasing inputs for farmers to grow food.
Mahase called upon all Basotho to get into the 2021-2022 summer cropping season in order to for Lesotho to have food security.
“Fellow farmers, the government with the ministry has already put together seeds and fertilizers. And the ministry will continue to sell to farmers with a 60 percent discount,” said Mahase.
The Minister explained that all farmers, including block farmers, will buy farming inputs from farming inputs dealers who are in an agreement with the ministry at the discounted prices that reflect the subsidy.
Mahase said their agricultural inputs will be available in stores at Ha Foso in Berea, Botha-Bothe, Maputsoe, and Mohale’s Hoek.
“Only farming inputs dealers who have agreements with the ministry will have access to stock in bulk from the four stores exclusively in order to distribute to farmers in the grassroots,” he said.
The reason for that, Mahase said is to avoid over-crowding in stores to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Mahase added called upon farmers and the nation to meet with farming inputs dealers and prepare to buy seeds and fertilizers for the summer cropping season.
He said the ministry will meet with block farmers at its district offices to fill their contracts.
Mahase further added it is his utmost belief that the farming inputs dealers will stick to the prices agreed upon with the ministry.
“The government will make arrangements for the products produced locally to access local markets,” said Mahase.
For the past year, Mahase said there were accomplishments and few challenges, however, the main challenge was heavy rainfall that started from December 2020 to January 2021.
“The rain affected crop farming immensely since some of the fields were destroyed by the floods,” said Mahase.
Mahase added that because of overflow many farmers were not able to weed their fields and were affected or harvesting.
With the floods, Mahase said the farmers could not harvest wheat because the machinery for harvesting could not be used on time due to muddy fields.
“Another challenge was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which was an inconvenience for fieldwork,” said Mahase.
However, he said other farmers who were able to plough on time and weed their field with chemicals or hands were successful and they had their harvest of maize.
The ministry, Mahase said advises farmers to start preparing for their summer crop farming by ploughing their fields and put closely their seeds and fertilizers for them to be used in time.
Mahase said the country this year was blessed with early rains which poured a few weeks ago and continue to pour.
“The meteorology team warned us that this year we will receive enough rains,” he said.