Rural Self-help Development Association (RSDA) with the objective of supporting smallholder farmers to improve their living conditions and their influence through mobilising their social capital and dialogue with private sector and the Government of Lesotho, is collaborating with farmers in the districts of Leribe, Berea, Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Butha Buthe, Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Thaba Tseka, Mokhotlong through district farmers forums. The initiative is financially supported by the Denmark Lesotho Network (DLN).                

 District Farmers Forum Profiles

1. Leribe Farmers Forum

  • Introduction

Leribe Farmers Forum is an association Registered under the Lesotho Societies Act of 1966 on the 6th day of August 2020 with its main objective to carry out agriculture related business like Crop farming, Livestock Farming, Trading of agriculture products and other agriculture related business. The association started operation in 2016 with about Fifty Five (55) women and men members and was officially registered under the Societies Act in 2020. The members are paying annual subscription of M100.00 and M500.00 as a once off joining fee respectively. The Association is Located and operates in Hlotse Leribe with production Units scattered within the six (6) Agricultural Resource Centre in Leribe district

  • Vision

Lead the way towards eradicating famine in Lesotho and throughout the World by improving the productivity of farmland and the nutritional value of food produced while preserving and enhancing the environment.

  • Mission Statement

Attain all year round sustainable production and supply ability through enhancing small-scale farmers towards the best use of land and provision to both the consumers and small-scale farmers a reliable market of high-quality farm products.

  • Association’s Objectives

• To use improved crop and livestock production technologies; and innovative marketing techniques for maximum enterprises profitability;

• To form mutually beneficial partnerships with individual farmers, local and foreign investors, farmer groups/associations, traders, whole sellers and enter strategic partnerships with serious investors in agri-business including crop, forage and livestock value chains;

• To process and market quality crop and livestock products at prices that are high enough to meet all production, marketing and management costs along the way making profit;

  • Core Values
    • Relationships

Agriculture is a people’s business. The association strives to connect small farmers in the industry to share knowledge, resources and grow together. Therefore we encourage partnership, volunteerism, and mentorship among the stakeholders along the value chain of our products.

  • Service

The association focuses on to serve Individuals in the general community. The effort is through the creation of a reliable market with high-quality farm products that create satisfaction to both the consumers and small-scale farmers.

  1. Range of Products

Leribe Farmers Forum deals with a range of various products related to crop farming and livestock farming.

Crops farming Involves but is not limited to the following products

  • Maize (Corns),
  • beans,
  • Potatoes,
  • Tomatoes

Livestock Farming

i). Dairy cattle

Leribe Farmer Forum has variety of livestock held at individual’s farms whereby Chicken, dairy, Piggery make the main livestock project for the time being.

Livestock farming Involves but not limited to the following;

  • Cattle/ Dairy Cow (Products Includes Milk and Meat)
  • Chicken (Products Includes Eggs and Chicken Meat), Pig Meat,

The main products from poultry range from

• Chicken Eggs;

• Chicken Meat; and

• Day old chicks from hatchery Units

ii). Poultry and poultry products

iv). Cattle & Pigs

2. Mohale’s Hoek’s District Famers Forum

The objective of the District Farmers Forums is to transform the mind set of smallholder farmers about commercial agriculture in their respective districts through building on their social capital (trust, confidence) which will enable farmers to have honest communication and work with private sector and Government of Lesotho to follow through commitments pledged in the CAADP Compact. The District Farmers Forum has great potential and may be a breakthrough towards active dialogue among farmers and their stakeholders. The farming community in the five Districts have recognized the opportunities associated with re-energizing smallholder commercial agriculture in their respective districts.

Mohale's Hoek District Farmers Forum

3. The Berea Business Forum

This collaboration with farmers is to support the National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP) draft document of the Kingdom of Lesotho program of which its objective is to help farmers to increase production and productivity and to graduate from subsistence farming to semi-commercial status. This would be achieved through the use of appropriate technologies and strengthening agriculture as a business while at the same time helping other actors in the agricultural value chain to increase their incomes. The program would improve the enabling environment, contribute to reducing poverty and ensure sustainable food security for the Basotho both at household and national levels by improving production, productivity, diversification and commercializing food production and developing high potential value chains and good functioning markets, improved access to rural finance and infrastructure.

Over the years, farmers have been challenged by a number of bottlenecks that have restricted them to produce maximally: These include:

  • Low productivity and  poor quality agricultural production
  • Government policies that are not inclusive and not farmer friendly
  • Weak farmer networks and associations that cannot demand and monitor Government programs
  • Poor understanding and knowledge of market and market linkages

Therefore, farmers in these districts have taken the huge responsibility of communicating, raising awareness and understanding among fellow farmers to unite for peer-to-peer support, to increase productivity of agriculture commodities and coordinate marketing of their produce.

Berea Business Forum-1

4. Mafeteng District Famers Forum

Vision:
Aspiring to be a strong district Farmers forum responsive to Farmers needs and aspirations.

Mission:
To encourage farmers in the district of Mafeteng to unite and speak in one voice and work collectively in order to tackle the issues of high production costs and access to markets.

Objectives:

  • To work with extension officers at the resource centres in identification of farmers as individuals and groups.
  • To profile farmers at the resource centres according to commodities.
  • To work collectively to identify possible reliable service providers for farming inputs and machinery.
  • To ensure that we produce quality products for the market.
  • To ensure that we sell our produce collectively in order to meet consumer demand.

Achievements:

  • The forum started more than five years back through help of the office of Rural Self-Help Development Association and is still existing.
  • The forum is made up of two district organizations being Bokaota Farmers Association (BOFA) and Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) sharing responsibilities of the Executive Committee.
  • Mobilized membership for the forum.
  • Have a Champion among the chosen national farmers champions

A Farmers Forum is a meeting place for likeminded farmers associations: each district coming together to share challenges, experiences and lessons. Coming together to find synergies, collective action and one voice for the farmers to explore opportunities which the Lesotho’s smallholder agriculture can play a much greater role in creating jobs to increase disposable income and sustain household food security.

These forums exist for:

  • Peer to peer support, exchanges to share skills and technologies, collective action-bulk buying and marketing of products
  • Collective voice and action in engaging with government for policy, laws and capital
  • Collective voice and action in engaging with business for inputs, finance and output market
  • Organizational support to farmers groups/associations for creating sustainable entities for good governance – membership drive, accountability and transparency

The Farmers Forum is represented by various farmers groups and associations based on commodities produced in the district. For example, poultry, grain, piggery, horticulture, wool and mohair, forestry, etc. This has been facilitated with assistance from the District Agricultural Offices of the districts mentioned.

The theory of change underpinning this engagement is that government as a primary duty bearer has a significant role it plays in increasing agriculture production through infrastructure development, proper planning, policy formulation and execution, but particularly through resource allocations for the agricultural development targeting the Lesotho farmers where over 80% are small holder farmers. Therefore, for the smallholder farmers there is need to have their voices to positively engage and influence the government for changes in the lives of small holders’ farmers. To have a unified voice for policy change and effective resource allocation and utilization, there is a need for farmers need to come together to have a platform that facilitates the engagement so to amplify their united voices on a range of issues affecting agriculture value chain from production, processing and marketing. The effective engagement can only be realized once farmers understand how government operate especially understanding the policy formulation and execution (resource allocation), particularly their ability to engage and track the budgeting process and monitoring it. This takes efforts to capacitate farmers to be able to engage the government and other stakeholders meaningfully hence why RSDA had organized the three-day workshops to train each forum on governance and social accountability.

Mafeteng District Farmers Forum

5. Maseru Agricultural District Unity Association

The process of farmers engagement with the duty bearers is expected to be participatory in nature where issues are taken up right from grass root to the district then to the national level to inform the CAADP processes.

Maseru Agricultural District Unity Association-1

6. Mokhotlong Farmers Forum

Association Background

Liphamola Dairy Farmers Association is a community-based organisation that was formed in January 2011 and has been legally registered with the ministry of law and constitutional affairs. Currently it has 34 members comprising of retired Agricultural officers, self-employed members from different aspects of life, farmers from the Ministry of Education and from the Ministry of Home Affairs who also differ in their educational backgrounds, and membership is open to residents of Mokhotlong. Membership becomes legitimate when the member has subscribed registration fee, membership fee, and start-up capital, as spelled out in the Association Constitution. Within the Association, membership is open for people with different skills and education backgrounds, so that administration, planning and implementation components could be well facilitated, together with experiences for long term benefits and sustainable development of the enterprise. The Association operates in the Mokhotlong district, covering both wards, that is, Tlokoeng and Khalahali. Liphamola owns a herd of Dairy Swiss, and Black diamonds (cross between Holsteins and Dairy Swiss) which are able to withstand climate conditions of Mokhotlong. The Holsteins are aimed at producing more of black diamonds in the next five years from 2019. As an association that started with 5 cows and now have 40 cows and offices with support of Letšeng Diamond Mine.

Vision
To inspire other farmers and recruit them with skills of rearing dairy cows in five (5) centres of Mokhotlong so that they would supply with milk to the dairy plant so as to meet the high demand of the milk in the district.
Mission
To produce and sell fresh pasteurized milk, sour milk and any other by-products (such as yoghurt, cheese, etc.) of milk commercially. 2 Products and services offered by the project
Currently the farm sells the following products and services to Mokhotlong community:

  • Fresh raw milk to Mokhotlong local
    communities (mainly sheep and goats farmers), fresh pasteurized milk to the mines (e.g. Letšeng Diamonds Mine (contracted), Kao Mine and Mothae mine) and cultured sour milk to mentioned mines and big organisations (e.g. Lesotho Highlands Development Authority), small and large supermarkets and individual consumers around Mokhotlong community. 60% of these products is sold to local communities while 40% is sold to other big organisations, mines, supermarkets. Generally, there are no challenges relating to the market. The market is big enough to sustain the project.
    · Bullocks and Heifers to perform breed of dairy Swiss, black diamonds (cross breed between dairy Swiss and Holsteins) to local farmers as to improve breed distribution around Mokhotlong district and nationwide. The association has trained members to provide this service to both the project and local farmers as a way to improve dairy cow breeding around district of Mokhotlong.
    · Farmers are able to sell fodder (even though it has not well been defined) to the farm.
    · Employment of six contract and two part-time employees.

Support
The project has been supported by different organisations of big names in the country since its establishment. This include both governmental and non-governmental organisations namely: Ministry of Trade and Industry Cooperatives and Marketing, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, UNDP/GEF, Letšeng Diamonds Mine, Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB) & Lesotho Dairy Farmers Association (LEDAFA), Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU) and Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA). Ministry of Trade and Industry Cooperatives and Marketing & Ministry of
Agriculture and Food Security – conformity with government policy Endeavours were made to make LDFA a registered entity, operating in conformity with government policy, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry Cooperatives and Marketing.

The National Cooperatives policy of Lesotho rightly stipulates that people can unite their ideas,
skills and resources to do things which they would rather not be able to do on their own. The
Association is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Ministry of
Trade and Industry Cooperatives and Marketing, to conform to the ministerial prescribed trade
standards on the processed milk products and handling of milk. The Association is also formed
to provide opportunities for personal development, for association members to gain managerial, business and technical skills through operation.

UNDP/GEF – capacitating members with dairy farming management skills, land rehabilitation
and erection of prior structures before involvement of Letšeng Diamonds Mine. Those structure
include: land fencing, kraal, storages and used equipment (such as milking cans).
Letšeng Diamonds Mine – development of the project
From 2011 to 2015, the production was low and the milk was only sold to the communities
closest to the farm. In 2016 Liphamola Dairy Farmers Association approached Letšeng
Diamonds under its Corporate Social Responsibility and Investment programme to support the
development of a dairy farm in Mokhotlong into a sustainable business venture that would
continue to sell milk to a big market that included mines and the Lesotho Highlands Water
Project in the Mokhotlong district. The request was successful and the project was up scaled
from the 14 cows to first 29 cows in 2016. Moreover, offices, the state of art milking parlour
and the milking room in which milk pasteurisation takes place were constructed. In 2018, the
next set of 10 cows were bought. The second phase of the project will begin in 2022 which will
go for a period of five years. The project is intended to up scale the production line and feeds
production to bring the business into sustainability. Lesotho National Dairy Board (LNDB) & Lesotho Dairy Farmers Association (LEDAFA)
– these are mother bodies that oversee the development of dairy in the country commercially.
The project joined hands with LNDB & LEDAFA to unsure conformity of the project with
milk hygiene practices, dairy breeding development and feeding of the dairy herd. The two
mother bodies provide guidance in selection of appropriate breed for farmers in Lesotho based
on their geological regions. Moreover, preparation of feed rations for good quality production
of milk.

Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU) – support LEDAFA with farming resources
with which LEDAFA help the project and other dairy projects around the country. These
includes fodder seeds, animal feeds and knowledge support in dairy farming.
Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) – strengthening the project capacity for
commercializing its produce. RSDA has provided trainings to LDFA members to capacitate
with skills of running the dairy project commercially thus improving the viability of the project.
Moreover, RSDA has liaised on behalf of the project with its current sponsor in 2018 to further
extent its support after procurement of Holstein cows. The main purpose was to capacitate
farmers with skills of rearing and managing Holstein cows for profitable business and assure
sustainability into the project before its exit.

Milk sales & Market
Milk and its by-products demand in Mokhotlong district is quite broad and till date the farm
has not fully achieved to cover this gap. The demand changes with seasons per product. For
instance: during winter, fresh raw milk sells more than other milk by-products. The main
reasons being raw milk takes longer time to get spoiled during winter due to cold weather
conditions so customers prefer to buy it in bulk for longer utilization period. Moreover, the
demand of raw milk grows from large numbers of sheep and goats farmers buying milk to feed
the new-born lamps and kids in their farms for proper growth. Their presence goes up until mid
of spring season. About 60% of raw milk sales are recorded annually on average.
The demand for fresh pasteurized milk is constant throughout the year averaging at 15%. This
is because this product is currently mainly sold to mines with regular agreed volumes twice a
month. Cultured sour milk market seems to be growing annually since its proper establishment
in 2018. A small recapture, in 2018, 20% was recorded from cultured sour milk sales. The sales
of this product grew up to 28% in 2019 and in 2020, 33% was recorded. The growth would
have been much greater this year in the production was not interrupted due to maintenance of
processing equipments and improvement of infrastructure to suit milk processing regulations.
The anticipation is that in the next two years the demand of this product (cultured sour milk)
will grow up to at least 60% of total milk sales. The analysis is, the product seems to be
establishing itself in the market with its unique taste, thickness, colour and organoleptic
properties.

 

7. Qacha’s Nek Farmers Forum

  • DATE OF CREATION
    The Qacha ‘S Nek forum was created/established in 2018 under RSDA.
  • MAIN AREAS OF ACTIVITIES
    The forum operates in all four councils of the district of Qacha ‘S Nek namely Qacha ‘S Nek urban council, Qanya, Nt’supe, Rat’soleli.
  • MAIN PRODUCTS
    The main products that the forum members produce are cereals, vegetable, fruits, pigs, chickens and milk production from castles.
  • MAIN SERVICES
    The forum provides the trainings on how farmers are being trained in terms of quality and quantities of food production in farming in the district.
  • PRINCIPAL CUSTOMER INDUSTRIES AND GEOGRAPHICS