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Diaspora Matters

Agricultural opportunities in Lesotho

nwiwa

One of the must visit countries in Southern Africa is Lesotho, a great country, lovely people and great tourist sites too. We were in Maseru last month and enjoyed every minute we were there. We look forward to a follow up trip in February 2018. Below we feature opportunities available in the agricultural field.

Overview

Roughly 80% of Lesotho’s population depends on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. However, agriculture’s contribution to GDP has declined over the last five years. In recent years, the government embarked on a block farming program to increase production through subsidies and central planning. Despite flagging agricultural production, the government plans to continue these subsidy programs to combat hunger and poverty. Although the government has not been actively seeking investors in the agriculture sector, there are opportunities in aquaculture, horticulture, and poultry farming.

Aquaculture

Lesotho has two large reservoirs built under the LHWP, and a third reservoir is planned under Phase II. According to feasibility studies, the water in the existing dams offers near perfect climatic and environmental conditions for trout production. As a result, two trout farms, Katse Fish Farm (KFF) and Highlands Trout (HT), operate at Katse Dam. KFF is licensed to produce 1,200 tons/annum, whereas HT is licensed to produce 2,500 tons/annum. KFF exports primarily to food service outlets in Southern Africa. HT exports primarily to Japan.  There are opportunities to establish additional farms at Mohale dam, and the proposed Polihali dam.

Horticulture

Horticulture is growing in Lesotho, and is getting an increasing focus after the implementation of the World Bank-supported Private Sector Competitiveness (PSC) Project. The project has two sub-components: the production of vegetables and the production of fruit trees, specifically apples and cherries. Two South African companies, Alpha Farms and Denmar estates, have partnered with farmers in Lesotho to produce for the Lesotho, South Africa and EU markets. Due to the country’s elevation, good soil, and abundance of water, the quality of the produce is good, and the fruits ripen earlier than in other countries in the southern hemisphere, offering an opportunity to supply the regional market early in the season. In addition, Lesotho’s climate is good for mushroom farming, and the kind of mushroom produced in Lesotho is in high demand in South Africa, Botswana and other southern African countries. Lesotho currently does not have processing and packing facilities for these products, so another opportunity exists in food processing.

Commercial Poultry Farming

Eggs and chicken are one of the major sources of protein consumed in Lesotho, but the poultry industry is relatively under-developed. Most poultry farmers are subsistence farmers, and their capacity is too low to supply the whole country. There is only one hatchery producing day old chicks and it does not meet market demand; the gap is met by imports from South Africa. There is need to have a fully integrated poultry industry from hatchery to market, including hatcheries, farms and a slaughterhouse. There are opportunities for U.S. companies to establish a fully integrated poultry farming operation in Lesotho or to supply poultry farming equipment such as incubators, chemicals, and slaughterhouse equipment.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. 

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