Find Agriculture expertise in Lesotho
Agriculture, along with forestry and fisheries, contributes 8% of GDP, and is the primary source of income, or an important supplementary source, for more than half the population in Lesotho (2010). Agriculture is mostly on a small scale and the majority of the population are involved in subsistence farming though there is some commercial farming. Despite this widespread involvement, around a quarter of people dependent on food aid and the importation of 70% of the country’s annual food consumption. The main agricultural products are maize, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley and livestock. However, being mostly mountainous and with only about 10% of the land workable for cultivation, the country is more suited to livestock than arable farming. In 2009 agricultural land constituted 77% of total land area. Consisting of sheep, goats and cattle the livestock sector is largely subsistence and in the higher elevations it is often the only source of revenue. Sheep and goats have traditionally been most significant, due to their production of milk, meat, wool and mohair. However, numbers of cattle have increased due to their more lucrative contracts.
Declining agricultural production, partly a result of land degradation and irregular and erratic weather, is targeted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development as a principle cause of poverty in rural areas. The main exports from the country are meat and high-quality wool and mohair. The most profitable export by far is wool, generating US$835,000 in 2010. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is responsible for agriculture at a federal level.
In the face of serious environmental challenges, much effort is being put into the development of the agricultural sector in Lesotho. The unfavourable climate is worsening due to global climate change, which hinders exploitation of the sector’s potential. The difficulties faced are reflected in the country’s placing in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. It was ranked 138th in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms of its balanced agricultural policy costs, with a value of 2.9 out of 7, compared to the world mean of 3.9.
To counter the underutilisation of productive land, the government is encouraging conservation and organic farming in order to restore soils and productivity. Additionally, it is committing to the improvement of market linkages and improved infrastructure, a particular issue in the mountainous country where most crops and livestock are produced in rural villages distant from major roads. The Ministry of Agriculture is focusing on livestock production by promoting the rearing of chickens and goats in households, planting fodder trees and improving pasture management. Another central objective is improving irrigation systems. The European Union and the FAO are working in conjunction with the ministry to develop the sector through the provision of seed, fertiliser and tools, as well as training in conservation agriculture and certified seed production.
|Agriculture organisations in Lesotho|
|Lesotho Agricultural College||
|Lesotho College of Education||
|Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security||
|Pannar Seed (Lesotho) (Proprietary) Ltd||
|The Lesotho National Development Corporation||