His Majesty King Letsie III examining a
leaking boom sprayer
tank at Thota Moli fields during 2011
“As much as the symposium went well, the exhibition
was not a success in terms of attendance of international
exhibitors and local farmers to view yet they had
paid participation fee.”
The thought of establishing the Silo Publication came way ahead of the 27th of July 2010. Ten years earlier, I left the Republic of Botswana with skills that I thought were sufficient enough to make a meaningful contribution to the economic upliftment of the Mountain Kingdom privately. A business advisory firm with focus in farming was established and located on the first floor of the new Basotho Hat. Much work was done for farmers of those days however I remember continuous negotiations with the financial institutions in relations to credit facilities for our farmer clients.
Our first publication had an interview with Fusi Notoane who had just came back from Zimbabwe and was at the time acting as Managing Director of Nedbank Lesotho Limited. On the same publication we had interviewed Moahloli Mphaka (The Current Government Secretary). Mphaka was at the time the Chief Executive of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA).
That publication of the 27th of July 2010 was meant to bring on surface the foreseeable bottlenecks that discourages capital injection in our fragile Lesotho farming sector. One can therefore argue that it was basing ourselves on feedback of Mphaka and Notoane that all bottlenecks frustrating initiative to inject into Lesotho farming were fully identified hence we got prepared to change the status quo.
Expo 2013 was held at Lesotho Sun Hotel and Casino and was themed “Agriculture in protected environment”
It was at this very beginning that we had speakers like Gavin Olsen of Rhino Plastic. Gavin was presenting on all technologies involved in farming crops under agriculture in protected environment as a mitigation factor of climate change. His presentation with others along the theme, were welcomed by the keynote speeches that were made by Nedbank Lesotho Limited and Pick ‘n Pay at the closing dinner ceremony.
As part of the package at the symposium, 192 farmers who had attended got access to presentations by not only Nedbank at the time, but also the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, which introduced the Smallholder Agricultural Development Projects (SADP). Some of the farmers applied for the grants the same year and were financed by both SADP and later business was expanded by Nedbank Lesotho.
Expo 2014 was held at Maseru Club and was themed “Dynamics of commercial farming”
The second expo moved from just the conference hall as symposium and introduced the exhibition component at Maseru Club Grounds. As much as the symposium went well, the exhibition was not a success in terms of attendance of international exhibitors and local farmers to view yet they had paid participation fee. Three weeks earlier, the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) had an exercise at the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), Headquarters that resulted into a causality of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko. The country was declared not politically stable and unsafe by LMPS as they all left police stations for couple of days. In spite of that, our records reveal a symposium roll of 165 farmers against 192, of the previous year.
Professor James Blignnaut of University of Pretoria delivered a keynote speech on the Industrial Development Corporation’s emerging Nguni Cattle farmers. The topics in the symposium were putting more weight on which animal breed or crop varieties Lesotho has a comparative advantage on.
The net result of the 2014 theme, let to acceptance by participants that some of the policies used in prioritizing on either preferred animal breed or crop varieties is normally not done considering economic factors, but wholesaling votes.
Expo 2015 was held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and was themed “Empower the farmer, strengthen the backbone of the economy”
His Royal Highness Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso and ‘M’e Luisa Mojela became our opening dinner speakers where Morena Seeiso concentrated on the theme while ‘Me Louisa more on the youth. At this stage the Silo Editorial team then introduced the Editors’ Award of which the first chairman of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) the late Mojalefa Lephole became the first recipient of the award and delivered the motivational talk to the students of the Lesotho Agricultural College (LAC).
Amongst the achievements that year, the Lesotho Brewing Company is support of the expo theme donated seed capital worth M 150,000.00 to one of the Lesotho Agricultural College (LAC) graduates to set up a Merino Farm.
Expo 2016 was held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and was themed “Unlocking the farmers’ bottlenecks”
It should be noted that the primary objective of setting up the publication and supplementing it with projects like the expo and study tours was technically to eliminate all bottlenecks hindering growth and development of the sector.
Mamokete Lijane an Actuarial Scientist, Top Ranked Fixed Interest Security Analyst who was at Aluwani Capital at the time and also a Special Consultant on the South African Deputy President on Minimum Wage, delivered a paper on Exploring the potential of Veterinary Fund Scheme. The presentation ignited the turning point of the financial institutions’ perception and attitude towards their strategies in financing in Lesotho Farming Enterprises.
Farmers Weekly Editor, Denene Erasmus delivered a presentation on the importance of information dissemination, while Lejone Nkhahle a Merino Farmer and Chartered Accountant who was a lecturer at the Center of Accounting Studies gave his experiences on New entrants in Merino Farming.
Mothiba Thamae gave the symposium the journey of Lesotho’s first and only wine farm. At the opening dinner his father Phatela Thamae received the Silo Editor’s Award that year on behalf of the Family Estate – Sani Wine.
Expo 2017 was held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and was themed “What type of Agricultural graduate does Africa need?”
In order to get to the bottom of the theme, we engaged Dr. Nhlanganiso Tshabalala from Wits Business School, a Chemical Engineer by training to handle the topic, the value chain of professions in food production while Dr. Lehlohonolo Mohasi from NUL and an Electrical Engineer who is handling Institute of Southern African Studies (ISAS) related on the relationship of University training and what Africa needs.
It is very obvious that the world population, especially Asian countries and Middle East are knocking on the doors of Africans, demanding food security strategies as Africa has the potential to rescue them in the future.
Expo 2018 was held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and was themed “Engaging the African Farmer’s child in the 2030 zero hunger targets”
Derick Pape, the retired Managing Director of Modiano (the largest buyer of the Lesotho’s wool clip) delivered a keynote speech entitled “A journey of the Lesotho’s wool clip” which became very controversial at the time since Regulation No. 65 of 2018 had just been implemented by the Government and there was severe tension and some Ministers threatened expo partners.
The symposium was attended by 150 people while the gala dinner attendance was 250 and the general exhibition grounds were visited by around 4,000 people.
The first piggery auction also took place at this Expo and one of the largest pig-genetic improvement companies in South Africa, PIC, educated the farmers on the correct piggery practices. The Former Manager of LNWMGA Lefu Lehloba received the Editor’s award at the opening dinner.
Expo 2019 was held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and was themed “Embracing the indigenous” where the focal point was the branding of Lesotho beef, mutton and lamb as Seboku.
The keynote speech was delivered at the closing dinner by Adv. Caroline McCann: a co-founder of the South African Grass fed Association, a Councillor for Slow Meat International and runs Braeside Meat Market in Northern Johannesburg. One of the pioneers of LNWMGA, Nkone Phiri also received the Editor’s award at this Expo.
The first meat festival was also incorporated into the Expo where a total of 220 people tasted the Seboku meat prepared by high profile chefs from ten local hotels and restaurants. The total attendance for the symposium was 230, for the gala dinner it was 280, while the exhibition was attended by around 5,000 people.
Expo 2020 shall be held at Mojalefa Lephole Convention Centre and has been themed “The parable of the Sower”
As The Silo magazine celebrates ten years of existence the focal point of this year is to reflect on the work of the Silo and the impact that the Silo Expos have made in the country. In line with vision 2020 of the country, we would like to be evaluated as an organization and the country at large. We shall base our focus on the Parable of the sower to see where the seeds that we have been planting have landed: on good soil, on the rocks, by the wayside or among thorns?