THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) is planning to ditch the land expropriation approach in favour of private public partnerships that will enable land holders to own a stake in industrialising the agricultural sector.
This, according to LNDC chief executive officer Mohato Seleke will enable Basotho to keep holding onto their land.
In the past, the corporation has expropriated land from holders to pave way for development of the manufacturing sector. However, the approach has in the past been criticised for leaving the public poorer since the compensation for the loss of land is used up in a few years.
Mr Seleke said the corporation is finalising its strategic plan for the next five years, on which commercial agriculture will feature prominently in its future endeavors.
The strategic plan, which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, stipulates the vision that will guide the activities of the corporation for the next five years.
Mr Seleke this week said rural communities who own land will be winners in their new plan.
He further indicated that the new plan seeks to ensure that locals play a more profound role in the commercial agricultural sector through holding significant equity in the projects.
While he was not at liberty to divulge details of the strategy he said they believe that their new workout plan is going to change the narrative for the country for the better.
“Some of the biggest beneficiaries are going to be communities who own land,” Mr Seleke said.
“Basotho normally say land is a treasure and we are about to breath life into that saying. We are going to ensure that for generations to come rural communities who own pieces of land realise wealth out of them from one generation to the next.”
Mr Seleke further said since land would remain in the control of the public, they would benefit from the capital gains and employment.
“We hope to replicate what we did in the manufacturing sector in the agricultural sector. We plan to pump billions into the sector and set up institutions specifically to support our journey in industrialising agriculture.”
He said they intend to replicate what they did with industrial estates in different districts which will go a long way in job creation.
The textile and garment manufacturing sector is the county’s flagship industry that has been developed through the involvement of LNDC. It is estimated to employ about 45 000 people.
Mr Seleke said they would build on the experiences gained in developing the manufacturing industry to deliver more empowerment to Basotho.
“While the manufacturing sector has created 45 000 jobs at the moment, we want a different impact from the agricultural sector. Apart from employment, we want our people to play a significant role in the ownership and control of the enterprises.
“All the major investments that are going to be made into the sector will be more or less of a tripartite relationship where we are going to have the corporation, a strategic investor and the community coming in through their land.”
Once this arrangement is in place, he said, the value of the land would grow exponentially and give its holders good financial returns.
He said the corporation was also finalising a deal for an agricultural project which is estimated to cost around M200 million. The deal, he said, would be announced by September this year.