MASERU — A Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) report released last week says the government’s efforts to fight hunger could have been seriously compromised after some retailers sold agricultural inputs to South African farmers.
“The government subsidy on seed and fertiliser in the 2011/12 seasons was planned to be implemented through retailers in light of their proximity to the farming communities to improve access to the subsidized inputs,” said the report.
“The implementation of the subsidy did not go according to plan as some retailers bought the subsidized inputs and kept them in their stores while others were reported to have been taking them across the border and selling them to South African farmers.”
The report said about 725 519 people, about three quarters of Lesotho’s 1.8 million people, are in urgent need of food aid or they will starve.
The government needs at least 61 885 metric tons of food to fill the shortage until the next harvest in June.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last week said about M1.4 billion is required for emergency food relief, livestock and agricultural inputs.
Thabane appealed to development partners to extend humanitarian assistance to address the crisis.
Thabane said the government was planning to subsidise agricultural inputs as another strategy to address the food insecurity and promote increased productivity.