Hunger Crisis in Lesotho

The state of hunger in Lesotho is not getting any better, every day we see an escalation in food prices.  Agriculture is a relatively small part of Lesotho’s economy, contributing an average of 6 per cent to the national gross domestic production (GDP) over a period 2012-2016. Despite its contribution to GDP, agriculture is an important means of livelihood for the majority of rural Basotho. The economy of Lesotho is dominated by subsistence agriculture and small-scale manufacturing of textiles, garments and apparel.

Productivity has been deteriorating since the early 1990s because of the unpredictable weather conditions, including droughts. The effects of soil erosion, severe land degradation and climate change have reduced the productive capacity of Lesotho’s croplands and rangelands and the poor performance of the agriculture sector. Major factors constraining agricultural growth include exposure to climate shocks such as droughts, floods and frost, land degradation, soil infertility, the high cost of production and lack of financial services and structured markets. Lesotho National Seed Policy of 2016, which aims to improve crop production and food security in Lesotho and for export by ensuring that farmers have access to quality seed of various crops.

Lesotho’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2017 outlines the country’s efforts to realize its development goals and increase the adaptive capacity to climate change. Lesotho is focused on implementing adaptation mechanisms to improve and diversify livelihoods in variability and change on water food security, as well as adverse conditions to health, human settlements, and the energy sector. 

The most common problem is the interest of research in the development of extension interventions focusing largely on transfer of technologies without taking into account the felt needs of the beneficiaries. Extension messages that are delivered seem to be irrelevant to the needs of the farming community. Multiple service providers often target the same recipients of services with minimal communication between and amongst themselves. Farmers are expected to have their own equipment and tools when extension officers visit them for demonstrations or any other service. In short there are no equipment/tools for extension officers provided to farmers. At the moment there is no agro-ecology orientated service provided by the extension services due to the fact that they are following the government instructions, which is pro-commercial agriculture.

The 2023/24 national budget the government of Lesotho has proposed an allocation of M1.1 billion to the agricultural sector and proposed that M226.6 million should contribute towards environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. US$800 million will be on supporting the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and to package the initiative to promote local and foreign investment. Farmers who have a good credit score or are able to acquire loans will be assisted to have access to it, but nothing is said about small-scale farmers.

National food security still remains more or less the priority for the government. This has caused an increase in crimes, Lesotho has the sixth highest murder rate in the world. Unemployment is getting higher even after the change of government which most of the youth thought the current would bring change. 

Then rural women in different districts are working on different projects to be able to feed themselves in this disheartening environment. They are using agro ecology methods to produce their food. They have seen better yields and they have been preserving some of their yield for future use. 

Leave a Reply