SADP I focused its activities at two levels in order to increase commercialization of Lesotho’s agriculture: (a) the developing agricultural business sector, and (b) smallholder farmers who are already engaged in market-oriented production or have good potential to become commercially active. Accordingly, the program will consist of three components implemented over six years: (a) Increasing Agricultural Market Opportunities; (b) Increasing Market-oriented Smallholder Production; and (c) Program Management.
SADP I targeted smallholder farmers and farmer groups that: (i) need support to improve their operations and sources of livelihoods; and (ii) have the basic resources and motivation required to successfully improve agricultural productivity and diversify into market-oriented agriculture. To help develop markets for their outputs, the program also supported the development of agriculture-related and rural businesses.
Four of Lesotho’s ten districts, namely Botha-Bothe, Leribe, Berea and Mafeteng, were selected in consultation with MAFS based on the following criteria: (a) districts with relatively high production potential and more than one agro-ecological zone; (b) accessibility/proximity to markets (for inputs and outputs); and (c) population outreach. The selected districts are along the South African border and include some of the more productive land with around two-thirds of the lowland areas in the country, about 52% of the arable land, a population of 850,000 (45% of the total) and around 3,000 villages.
The objective of this component is to support Lesotho’s developing agricultural business sector to contribute to increased commercialization of the agriculture sector. The main beneficiaries will be small and medium agro-based businesses, rural entrepreneurs and farmer associations with potential to expand their market-related activities or improve their profitability, which will in turn improve market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
The objective of this component is to support small-scale farmers groups in their efforts to produce marketable commodities, improve their ability to respond to market requirements, and help motivated semi-subsistence producers to move towards increased commercialization in line with natural resource management (NRM) considerations. The main target groups are smallholder farmer groups in areas with high production potential, who are already engaged in market-oriented production or have good potential to become commercially active.
The approach is to plan, prioritize and demonstrate how market-oriented agricultural activities can be a worthwhile undertaking for smallholder producers and how to better address natural resource management issues in such planning processes. This will be done by offering a package of support that includes: (a) technical training, to improve production in line with market requirements; (b) commercial training, to better consider demand, costs and benefits when making production decisions (“farming as a business”), and to become more effective market participants; and (c) initial investment support to encourage farmers to venture into new activities.
This component will establish an effective program management and administrative system, to ensure coordination between the program and other initiatives and national institutions in the sector. The program oversight and implementation arrangements are further described in Annex 3.