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FEATURE STORY

Project Helps Lesotho’s Rural Farmers Become Certified Exporters

November 9, 2016

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With a new certification, Lesotho’s farmers are now able to produce and export deciduous fruits such as peaches, apples, plums, cherries and apricots. 

© World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lesotho is transforming strategic areas of the country into major centers of deciduous fruit production and export, through a World Bank-supported project
  • The project is boosting the livelihoods of farmers through the production of high-value tree crops, including apples, plums, cherries and apricots, shifting from a reliance on maize as the main source of income to more diversified crops
  • With the farms success, the project aims to attract private investment to scale up the initiative in other areas of the country, and develop each step of the export value chain

MAHOBONG, November 9, 2016 – Ntofela Pasa, a 30-year-old mother of two, spends her days managing Likhothola Farm, which her family owns with eight other households. Formed in 2012, when she and the other families joined their collective 10.7 hectares of land together, the rural farm employs 38 villagers who have gained experience in plant husbandry, post-harvest handling, and other farming skills.

“This farm has made a big difference in our lives,” Pasa said. “We used to worry about survival, as jobs are hard to find, but we can now put food on the table and clothe our children.”

Now, Lesotho’s farmers can also export deciduous fruit to neighboring countries. Through a World Bank-supported project, Likhothola Farm recently earned a GlobalG.A.P certification for the production and exportation of apples, plums, peaches and apricots.


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Through a World Bank-supported horticulture program, cherries are one of several fruits that farmers can export to neighboring countries.

© Zandile Portia Ratshitanga/World Bank

The project is part of the World Bank’s broader $13.1 million Second Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project, which aims to increase private sector investment, firm growth, and job creation through development of selected non-textile industries. Funded by IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the project supports the government’s efforts to diversify the economy and decrease reliance on textile exports as the main engine of growth by demonstrating that commercial deciduous fruit production is feasible, competitive and sustainable.

“Although this project is made possible through public financing support, our hope is to attract private investment and for the farms to become self-sufficient and competitive,” said Janet Entwistle, World Bank Country Representative for Lesotho.

The Basotho people have traditionally relied on subsistence farming, mainly of corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley and livestock. However, Lesotho’s location and micro-climatic conditions give the country a competitive advantage in the production of a variety of pome and stone fruits, which can be supplied to international markets two to four weeks earlier than those from competitors in South Africa.

“We know from this project that it is feasible for Lesotho to develop a thriving new fruit tree sector that can contribute to economic growth,” said Maria Paulina Mogollon, World Bank senior private sector specialist and task team leader on the project. “Doing this will nonetheless require significant further private and public investments to develop each step of the value chain.”

The Likhothola Farm was preceded by three pilot projects from 2007-2013, set up to evaluate the feasibility of growing fruit and identify promising fruit tree varieties and agro-climatic locations. The current phase (2014-2019) has scaled-up production, tested domestic and international market interest, and secured GLOBALG.A.P certification.

A total area of 41.5 hectares of land is under cultivation, containing 14 varieties of apples, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries. In Mahobong II village, 16,639 plum, pear and apple seedlings have been planted, and another 16,307 peach, plum, pear and apple seedlings planted in Likhetlane village. Although the severe 2015-2016 drought was a setback, new seedlings have been planted to replace those that died, and boreholes will be drilled in the next few weeks.

“This is an experiment which has gone extremely well,” said Chaba Mokuku, project manager. “The next step is to attract investors to scale-up the initiative in suitable areas throughout the country.”

The government and the World Bank have proposed an additional financing operation to consolidate the project’s gains and accelerate its progress. 


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