See also:
» 08.04.2009 - Lesotho ready to roll out social cash grants
» 25.10.2007 - Lesotho launches price subsidy campaign
» 08.07.2005 - New drought in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia
» 04.03.2005 - Lesotho hopes for first good harvest in 4 years
» 28.09.2004 - Two million need food aid in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland
» 05.07.2004 - Food shortages in Southern Africa "to continue"
» 17.06.2004 - EU emergency aid for Lesotho, Swaziland
» 01.03.2004 - Maize-basket of Lesotho hardest hit by drought

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Agriculture - Nutrition | Economy - Development

New project to train poorest farmers in Lesotho

afrol News, 17 December - The poorest farmers in three southern districts in Lesotho will be the beneficiaries of a new US$ 12 million programme to improve their farming techniques and livestock production, as well as to upgrade veterinary and slaughterhouse services, the UN's agricultural fund said today.

The programme is set to teach the farmers in the three southern districts of Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Quthing better use and management of land and water while improving traditional animal husbandry techniques, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said today.

IFAD is to lend the government of Lesotho US$ 10.1 million for the programme, while the government will donate US$ 1.7 million. Finally the farmers themselves are to invest US$ 200,000 in soil and water conservation projects.

The programme aims to create opportunities for poor rural households to improve their food security and increase their incomes through better use and management of natural resources, such as land and water, and improved agriculture and livestock production techniques. Food security is critically low in drought-ridden Lesotho.

Recurrent droughts and increasing land degradation in the southern districts of Lesotho are some of the major causes of food insecurity and famine. Poor rural households depend on rain-fed agriculture and traditional animal husbandry techniques, "but these systems can no longer guarantee basic food needs for the poorest households," IFAD says.

The new programme therefore aims to promote the adoption of "a wide range of ecologically sound production technologies critical for agricultural diversification and intensification in a manner compatible with the country's fragile agro-ecology," according to the UN agency.

In order to increase food availability, the programme aims at helping landless households and subsistence farmers to establish homestead gardens and efficiently utilise available water resources. Women, who account for about half of all heads of households in the districts, were to be the main beneficiaries of such activities, IFAD said.

Livestock production is also a source of income for landless and small-scale farmers in the area. The programme thus is set to provide basic veterinary support, including the establishment of three district veterinary clinics and a national disease surveillance network. Finally, district abattoirs are to be renovated to avoid public health risks.

Also other UN agencies remain active in Lesotho to alleviate the consequences of the long lasting drought in the mountain Kingdom. The World Food Programme (WFP) continues its operations and today reported it had distributed 1,200 tons of food to some 93,000 vulnerable people in the country - including the many households affected by HIV/AIDS - only during the last week.

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