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Integrated food security programme in response to 2012 food crisis
As a result of the cumulative impact of floods in 2011 and late rains in the early stages of 2011-2012 cropping season, a food insecurity crisis was declared in Aug 9, 2012 by the Government of Lesotho. According to the Lesotho Vulnerability Committee Report released in July 2012, 725.000 people are considered to be food insecure, representing 39% of the total population of the country.
Following the food insecurity crisis declaration, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) scaled up its ongoing rehabilitation activities in order to increase the coverage of beneficiaries from 5,000 households to 10,800 families with the distribution of seeds and fertilizers among vulnerable active farmers as well as training on sustainable agricultural techniques such as Conservation Agriculture (CA) and improved Home Gardening and Nutrition. This large coverage has been made possible with funding from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), Belgium and the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).
10.800 households from the whole country benefit from this emergency programme
The initial stage of the response programme is completed. All the beneficiaries have received inputs to start planting for the 2012-2013 agricultural season on time. This programme is implemented at a national level, covering all ten districts and the four agro ecological zones of the country. “I am happy about the distribution, coming at the right time. I will immediately start planting!” said ‘Me Maletsi, head of her household living near Mekaling in Mohale’s Hoek district.
The beneficiaries of the project were selected in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, local authorities and communities, through extension officers operating in each district. Vulnerability criteria were used in the selection, giving priority to families headed by females, orphans, elderly or having members chronically-ill, children under five or pregnant and lactating mothers.
“Conservation Agriculture, one of the best adaptation measures for Climate Change”
“We are pleased to see the increasing enthusiasm among farmers to learn about techniques such as Conservation Agriculture, which will allow Basotho families to improve their food security in a sustainable manner. Conservation Agriculture offers us one of the best options to adapt to Climate Change and revert the declining production among in the country. The involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been decisive for the success of this ambitious programme. It is the first time Conservation Agriculture is promoted widely at national level. I would like to commend, particularly, the efforts undertaken by the extension officers based in the field, near the farmers who train and provide technical support to thousands of families. Together we can defeat hunger, Moho, re ka Hlola Tlala!”, said Attaher Maiga, FAO Representative in Lesotho.
The three pillars of Conservation Agriculture techniques are: minimum disturbance of the soil, crop rotations and permanent soil cover. Soil erosion is a major problem in Lesotho, affecting both quality and quantity of harvests. By adopting Conservation Agriculture, farmers are not only ensuring better harvest for their households but also contribute to the improvement of soil quality. FAO’s programme aims at helping farmers in this emergency situation in the short term but also disseminates knowledge and practices which will enhance their agricultural practices on a long-term perspective.
FAO Lesotho remains committed in supporting Basotho communities and continuing the promotion of Conservation Agriculture benefits.