THE Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has signed an agreement with Meraka Lesotho Abattoir (Pty) Ltd that seeks to guarantee local red meat producers a market for their produce.
The deal, which was announced this week by Small Business Minister, Chalane Phori, will allow farmers to sell their livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats to Lesotho’s only national abattoir.
According Mr Phori, the agreement comes on the back of a conscious decision taken by the Ministry to suspend the issuance of import permits for live animals for meat production, in order to protect the local livestock production.
Prior to the agreement, local farmers had no formal market for their livestock, with slaughter houses opting to import from South Africa claiming that local produce was inferior in quality.
Mr Phori said that beginning next week, the livestock would be sold every Wednesday at the abattoir.
He said the arrangement would however, not affect the ongoing monthly animal auctions in the rest of the country’s districts.
Farmers will only be allowed to sell their livestock after producing the necessary proof of ownership. The price of each animal be determined by its weight.
“It is our responsibility as the Ministry to secure markets either locally and internationally for all Lesotho produce,” Mr Phori said, adding, “All Basotho are advised to buy produce in Lesotho in order to support Basotho businesses to ensure economic growth.”
He said his ministry, through its department of marketing, is in the process of building abattoirs in all districts through the support of the Wool and Mohair Promotion Project (WAMPP).
“This will go a long way in improving the lives of Basotho as they will now be assured of earning from sales of their livestock.
“This is a project I believe in because we have made excuses that the quality of our livestock is not good enough to make certain grades of red meat and deprived Basotho of an opportunity to make a living.
“If the only concern is the quality of the livestock, I have confidence that Basotho farmers will seize this opportunity to learn and follow necessary procedures to create healthier livestock so that the value and quality of meat produced in the country improves.”
For his part, Mosito Khethisa who is the Managing Director of Meraka Lesotho Abattoir, said the demand for livestock was high and they needed to purchase more animals from Basotho.
Lerata Pekane, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business Development, said the establishment of the creation of a certain market for livestock would encourage Basotho farmers to produce more livestock in order to improve their lives.