By T’soloane Mohlomi
MASERU – Lesotho’s pioneering farmers hailing from all walks of life and different farming backgrounds were recently lauded at the Farmer’s Pitso Awards held at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru.
Hosted by popular comedian Lilaphalapha, the awards aimed to show appreciation to farmers making headways around the country, and to encourage up and coming entrepreneurs to preserver in the sector as it possessed the potential to stimulate economic growth and proved to be lucrative with the possibility to yield positive financial gains and rewards.
The winners were elected in different categories and fans voted for their favourite contestants by means of using text messages in the form of short message services (sms). A collage of sponsors came aboard to make the ceremony a reality and some of the sponsors who took part were: The Informative Newspaper, The Mail Newspaper, Standard Lesotho Bank, Aranda Blankets, Newsday Newspaper, Mlex Beauty Spa and Sentinel Farms among others.
Speaking at the ceremony Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, Mr Thabo Mofosi said the agricultural sector was a lucrative one which needed prioritization, adding that they hoped to attract foreign investment so that at least in the coming years the country could have its own equipment like tractors and so on.
“We would like to thank all the stakeholders because your support is indeed a calling and you are doing God’s work as there is great potential in this sector if we invest and prioritise it. We want to attract investors so that in the future we have our own tractors and farming equipment,” he said.
One of the winners scooping two awards on the day, was the 19 year old Sejakhosi Lefisa, from Thabana-Morena in Butha Buthe who owns Mabita’s Finest said he embarked on farming shortly after high school upon completing his LGCSE. He said his father was reluctant on sponsoring his supplementation courses so that’s when he decided to fend for himself and embarked in farming. Mr Lefisa said his disadvantaged background spurred him on to work hard in farming and reach the position he retains today.
“ I struggled to complete my form five due to the lack of support from my father although he had a stable job, I went through a period of great trial and tribulation and it wasn’t easy and I was sceptical for a while of wither I would succeed by I persevered to make my business a successful one.
“I started with only 200 cabbages given to me as a start from my mother, but in 2022 I in leaps and bounds at one point was able to raise M 10,000 which I used to buy a business site. I know supply the town of Butha-Buthe, Maseru, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka and I get a lot of support from Basotho.
Mr Lefisa said he at one point managed to raise over M150, 000 through his business and purchased another site.
In closing, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lejone Mpotjoane said it was his Ministry’s job to ensure that they market Lesotho and all Basotho’s products on the International scene and also try to attract foreign investment which can bring the much needed foreign remittance to the country and adding to the recuperating economy.
He said farming was an important sector which could not be ignored as a sector which can eradicate poverty and alleviate the standard of living in Lesotho. He urged farmers not be eager to waste their hard earned money on fruitless endeavours but to reinvest it in the farming business in order to secure greater returns.
“We want all aspiring farmers those who haven’t yet gone to the fields and engaged in other agriculture to be inspired and see there is indeed money in agriculture, where they are guaranteed to earn a living.
“You will all remember that when we started this job some of the teachings we gave were that your money needs to be used to grow your farming businesses, as a farmer please don’t be too quick to try and want to buy flashy cars because your money will end there.
“But please work hard to grow your businesses and strengthen them.’’
The Minister further added that if there was something that the media and the country needed to do was to talk about agriculture and promote it.
In addition he said as the Government of Lesotho we are planning to establish the Lesotho Farmers Investment Fund (LFIF) which will be a big fund designated specifically for agriculture where government will invest its money and where local farmers could also buy shares and own a steak.