FAO promotes conservation agriculture in Lesotho through three year programme

FAO promotes conservation agriculture in Lesotho through three year programme

30/06/2014

In response to the 2012 food insecurity crisis in Lesotho, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) designed a three-year cycle programme to assist 18 500 households with agricultural inputs and know-how on agricultural technologies helping communities to adapt to climate change, building their resilience to better withstand future shocks.

The programme promotes conservation agriculture (CA) and improved home gardening and nutrition in all ten districts of Lesotho. CA involves sustainable agricultural methods based on three principles: minimum disturbance of the soil, permanent soil cover and crop rotations/intercropping. Soil erosion is a major problem in Lesotho affecting both the quality and quantity of harvests. By adopting CA, farmers not only ensure better harvests but also contribute to the improvement of soil quality and its preservation.

FAO distributed a package of maize and bean seeds, fertilizers, and a vegetable seeds kit and trained farmers on conservation agriculture (CA) and improved home gardening (HG) in the first year of the programme. Beneficiaries of the programme then received support with cover crops so the soil could be protected; 11 000 received this support in 2013. An additional 7 500 families received 25kg of wheat seeds to start cultivating cover crop in their fields. This support will continue with the distribution of grazing vetch (a type of cover crop) among farmers through 2014. In this manner, it is expected that beneficiaries will be able to progressively practice the key principles of CA and discover the enormous benefits for the soil and increases in production.

The Emergency and Resilience Programme is implemented with financial support from the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), the Government of Belgium, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UK’s Department For International Development (DFID).

FAO implements this programme jointly with the MAFS through the extension officers operating in all Agricultural Resource Centres in each district providing training and technical support to beneficiaries. In order to facilitate this task, FAO and the National Conservation Agriculture Task Force in Lesotho (NCATF) have developed visual training materials which are being used by extension staff of the MAFS to train farmers on CA. 420 training kits in English and Sesotho apart from leaflets for beneficiaries have been distributed to all resource centres of the country along with the wheat seeds. These partnerships share the ambition to scale up the promotion of Conservation Agriculture nationwide.

FAO Lesotho remains committed to supporting communities in Lesotho and continuing the promotion of diversified agricultural production that protects the environment and the capacity of future generations to produce nutritious food.