We support small-scale farmers in Lesotho to become more self-sufficient. Help us help them.

If you would like to donate, please call our director Mrs Mampho Thulo on +266 5884 3517 or email her at thulom@rsda.org.ls

Your $50 donation buys 30 chickens for a farmer

Your $50 donation buys 10kg of seeds for a farmer

Your $50 donation helps us train farmers to become self-sufficient

And here are some stories about people we’ve supported.

Sustainable farming is the way forward: ‘Matebalo has her say

IMG_6603‘Matebalo, 50, is married and has three daughters. She also has two grandsons and two granddaughters. Her husband, who worked in the mines, passed away in 1996. She’s been farming since then. This is her story.  

My name is ‘Matebalo Mpeoa, and I started working with the Rural Self-Help Development Association in 2010. I first heard about RSDA from field workers from the Ministry of Agriculture, who held public gatherings in our community in Ribaneng, about 100km south of the capital city Maseru. RSDA has supported our community by giving us seeds. This was a great benefit. Also, our community was able to put together HIV/AIDS support groups with support from RSDA.

“Climate change is another factor that we learned more about thanks to RSDA.”

I have always loved farming, especially on a smaller scale. And when I joined RSDA, my horizons grew. I was introduced to new methods of farming, such as keyhole gardening, trench gardening and peace gardening. I used to plant only small areas in my garden and harvest produce for one month, but now – with these new methods – my harvests can reap produce for five months. I farm for family consumption. And when I have a surplus, I share with my needy neighbours. In our culture, as Basotho, giving to those in need is normal.

Sustainability is also crucial, and I became sustainable when I received the seeds from RSDA. Moreover, RSDA run numerous training sessions on how to be the best farmer I can be. The trainings focused not only on farming, but also on empowering us as women to know our rights. I didn’t know about my rights before the trainings, including my right as a woman on inheritance.

Climate change is another factor that we learned more about thanks to RSDA. The effects of climate change are hitting us hard, and resulting in more hunger. The wrong methods of farming can also cause greater hunger. However, with improved methods of farming and cultivating, we are better equipped to produce our own food.

‘Handouts are not sustainable, let’s produce our own food’: Mookho lives and breathes the change she wants to see

IMG_6622Mookho Tšepiso, 36, is happiest when teaching kids. When she’s not teaching, she’s spends most of her time in the garden and attending to household chores. Born in Masemousu, in Lifajaneng village, her house and family is now in Sekamaneng. The happy teacher was placed in Ribaneng, about 100km south of the capital Maseru as the local primary school needed a teacher. Mookho is married and has a one-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. This is her story. 

I started working with RSDA in 2012, when they helped us to develop smaller gardens. I didn’t know much about the Rural Self-Help Association at that time. However I did know they were a non-governmental organisation that supported people to become more sustainable farmers. RSDA assisted the school where I work, Pocha Primary School, in a program they ran with Action Aid.

“We as Basotho have been introduced to handouts in a form of food packages, and, while this keeps the wolves from the door, it is not sustainable.”

Our school had no cement floor, so children had to spend a lot of time using cow dung to ensure that the floors weren’t dusty. Before long, with help from RSDA and Action Aid, we had cement floors. RSDA also helped the school to buy the materials we needed to build toilets for the boys and girls. In a typical display of community effort, the parents volunteered their labour in building this facility.

Not done there, RSDA supported when we gave the school a facelift, and helped us purchase garden tools – which continue to be of great help.  Thanks to RSDA, our school has more time to be a school: teaching kids and empowering them to take on the future. For instance, thanks to the new toilet, students now have much greater hygiene and general sanitation has improved significantly.

The provision of seeds and chickens by RSDA has helped, too, and we are now more sustainable in our farming methods. The major lesson I have learnt from RSDA is self-reliance. Community effort and community support, or course, but with self-reliance at the core. I have learnt one can harvest more if the right techniques are used.

Our school now has small gardens that supplement the students’ food. There are challenges, however, as some community members steal from the school when our vegetables grow. We urgently need our gardens to be fenced properly. Another challenge is hunger. Although at times it is difficult to see, we know it is there. We have number of vulnerable children at the school, who often battle against the odds just to get to school.

We as Basotho have been introduced to handouts in a form of food packages, and, while this keeps the wolves from the door, it is not sustainable. We have land; good land. And if we plan carefully and farm smartly, we can produce enough food to reduce hunger and boost our stockpiles.

My neighbours notice my new farming methods: Phelane praises RSDA for support

phelanePhelane Ranthimo, 57, is the chair of the Thabana Tšoeu Sephula Small Farmers Association. He used to work in the mines but was retrenched in 1991, when he started farming. He bought a water pump with his savings and hasn’t looked back. Phelane is the eldest in the family and, thanks to farming, he’s been able to educate four of his brothers. He’s married with two boys and two girls. This is his story. 

I first heard about about RSDA when they held public gatherings at our Chief’s place in Thabaneng, in the district of Mafeteng, about 70km south of our capital Maseru. It wasn’t long after, in 1998, that I started working with the Rural Self-Help Development Association on improving my farming methods.

“If more people were to receive support from RSDA, I believe our community would benefit.”

Since then, I have great support from RSDA. Whether it was practical help on setting up drip irrigation, installing a water tank, or advice on where and when to plant seeds, RSDA has been with me the whole way. They’ve also supplied me with fruit trees and chickens, to help me on my way to sustainability.

Above all else, though, RSDA has afforded me the opportunity to continue learning about farming and sustainability. Thanks to them, I have received wonderful training and I’ve been on study tours. This education is invaluable, and the highest of all support.

Now, for instance, when I farm I use new methods which save me a lot of money and time. What’s more, the harvest is more fruitful. I should also say that I now use organic manure for my farming, and stay clear of fertilisers. I have also learnt a great deal about climate change, and the impacts this is having on us. RSDA has taught me how to mitigate the effects of climate change.

If I had to say why RSDA training are so effective, it’s because they are practical. We learn the theory, yes, but we put this theory into practice immediately and we learn as we go. We go into to the fields with them, and we work as a team. And I always feel comfortable asking them questions, about any topic.

My confidence has grown, too. I have learnt that you can provide food and get income at the same time. And when my harvest is good, I hire members of the community as a way of boosting community employment. I’m proud to say that my farm has food all year around, and my neighbours now notice my unique and sustainable farming methods.

I can’t say all is perfect, though. There is still a lot of hunger in my community, and in my country.  If more people were to receive support from RSDA, I believe our community would benefit. If more people understood that, despite draught being a big problem, we can manage. We need to adapt our methods and our future can improve. RSDA should be applauded in championing this message.

Whether it’s soccer or farming, Makhabane Roman Catholic Primary School is kicking goals

IMG_8027The Makhabane Roman Catholic Primary School, in Ha Makhabane, Phamong, Mohale’s Hoek, has just won their local soccer tournament. And it’s not just soccer that they excel at. Thanks to RSDA, they are now taking their farming to new heights. This is their story.

The Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) came to our school, in the south of Lesotho, in 1997 to tell us about their innovative program. It left a good impression on us! Since then, RSDA has supported us to develop new methods of farming, such as keyhole gardening. Thanks to their support, we are now able to harvest water through the stone-tanks they built for us. It was a true team effort. We collected the stones and their muscle and know-how put the tanks together.

“RSDA has taught us better farming methods, and we now use natural methods to manage our soil.”

If you walk around our school you will find plenty of shade to take shelter from the sun. We have RSDA to thanks for this shade, for with their support we were able to plant the shade-giving fruit trees.

Always keeping an eye on healthy eating, too, RSDA provided us with seeds to grow vegetables. We’re now able to harvest vegetables that go into our students’ bellies via a tasty and healthy lunch.

Our trees are multiplying and we’ve been able to sell wood to the community while we plant more. The trees also protect our yards from strong winds. RSDA has taught us better farming methods, and we now use natural methods to manage our soil. Our skills have increased, as has our knowledge of soil erosion. We are now better equipped to put in place prevention techniques.

As you know, Lesotho has been hit by a stubborn drought – and this has affected our farming. With humility and respect, we would like to see RSDA extend their support to us again to fight the hunger that has hit our country. We have projects like a piggery that helps to sustain us, but we are always keen to form deeper partnerships with our proven supporters.

‘I am now able to see the change in my life’: Letlamoreng takes charge of his life through farming

IMG_7991Letlamoreng Lehloenya, 57, from southern Lesotho, used to work in construction and photography, but not anymore. Farming is his thing now. And with support from RSDA, he’s making a good go of it. The father of four has a supportive wife who also loves farming. Here is his story.

I have four kids. My wife is very supportive and loves farming. I have a son and a daughter who also love farming. I started working with RSDA in 1995. I heard about the association from Tšeuoa Lephale, a former RSDA member. My request to be supplied with potatoes was met with a smile, and I’ve been a proud member ever since.

“There are no handouts from RSDA – just hand ups.”

RSDA then supported my small farm in Ha Makhabane, Phamong by providing seeds. After harvesting we had some leftover seeds, which we passed back to RSDA so they can help other farmers. I like their mentality of teamwork and never wasting things. This system taught me loyalty and honesty in partnership, and it builds a genuine sense of community.

Education is another mantra that RSDA practice. Their trainings have helped me a lot, particularly in promoting sustainability. There are no handouts from RSDA – just hand ups. If you look at my farm now, I have much fresh produce. This is thanks to the knowledge (via trainings) I learned from RSDA. I’ve planted 8,000 fruit trees. Yes, 8,000!

The trainings also helped me to understand more about how markets operate, and I now have a deeper appreciation of how the government’s strategic plan is linked with agriculture. Through RSDA I am now able to see change in my life.

I used to work in construction and photography but now farming is for me. My harvest is great. Farming is my job now, and it comprises of crop farming, livestock and nursery.

Wherever you are there is soil. And wherever there is soil there is life. We can grow and have our own food from the soil we have. This is more wisdom I have learned from RSDA.

I work closely with my community. We share information, contacts and different ideas on farming. I worked with about 15 members in our community to plant trees – now we have a green village!

However, there is always another side to the story; and the hunger that I see around us is still painful. It’s terrible. The culture of handouts in Lesotho is very high. When government announces to the nation to go and get handouts, I get busy planting my fields. This is my humble way of countering the handout culture. More awareness about this should be raised among our people. We have soil and the government should offer support because farming can be expensive. But they will save money in the long run if people become more self-sufficient.

The good egg plants seeds: ‘Mapotsane tells us how RSDA’s support goes a long way

IMG_6782‘Mapotsane, 61, of ‘Masemousu, Ha Chechane, has been through some tough times of late. Recently, she lost two of her girls, as well as losing her husband and a son. Another daughter passed away in 2015. She says she survives by being a hands on person and staying positive. She is a remarkable woman, and this is her story.

I heard of RSDA at a community gathering in 2016. I was told that it is an organisation that supports good nutrition for the kids. Not long after that I was part of RSDA. They supported me with a donation of seven bushveld chickens and five different types of seed – carrots, spinach, beetroot, onion and turnip. The chickens have been a Godsend. The eggs they lay have contributed so much on the nutrition of my children and grandchildren.

“I’ve learned new ways of conserving soil. Now, I can harvest despite the drought.”

Since being a member of RSDA, their trainings have helped enormously. They’ve helped teach me how to take good care of my chickens, and I’ve learned about keyhole gardening.

Though I’m a new member, the seeds they’ve provided me will take me a long way, I just know it. My wish is to be supported with more seeds that can be planted at my fields, which are about 500 meters away from my house. This will help me become even more sustainable.

I have learned how to take care of my children through the provision of healthy nutrition, and I’m now able to sustain myself through farming. Also, I’ve learned new ways of conserving soil. Now, I can harvest despite the drought.

As I’m sure people are aware, hunger is rife in my community. We had one international NGO here not long ago, asking us the same questions about hunger in Lesotho. This tells you that the country is going through a tough time due to the drought. There was a time when my kids would go to bed without food, but since I became member of RSDA and being supported, I am able to feed them eggs. But the chickens are also not immune from the drought – they sometimes perish from hunger, and this pains us all.

On top of my farming, I collect and sell rosehip. I managed to educate my grandchild through high school by selling rosehip. Lastly, I want to thank RSDA for their support of me my farming. Keep doing what you do.