Writes: Koena Pelea
August, a month marked by Africans to celebrate WOMEN! As The Silo family we took pleasure in celebrating and closing this month with an amazing and strong woman in agriculture Rorisang Motanyane, a woman who went into the agricultural industry in the early 90’s. “This industry was and still is male dominated, and women are perceived as incapable of building and sustaining their careers in such an industry! ” Said Motanyane. However, contrary to the popular believe, she prevailed successfully for more than two decades.
Rorisang Motanyane is the Principal Crops Production Officer in the Department of Crops Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, she acquired the promotion from District Crops Production Officer in 2007 after obtaining her Masters in Plant Protection. She is one of the few people in the country in the field of plant protection who also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Pesticide Management and Risk Reduction a very essential course for people working in agriculture, health and environmental sectors.
In her working experience she has achieved the following which contributed a lot in the field of Plant protection since obtaining the position;
- Held training’s for extension staff and farmers on various disciplines in plant protection, through the project she coordinated in 2011-2012
- Lesotho now has a draft Plant Protection Policy and is also a contracting party to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), through her initiative to get funding from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) upon working in this field and realizing the challenges the country faces as a result of lack of regulatory framework in the field of plant protection, she is part of the team which is currently developing the Pesticide Management Bill.
Growing up, Rorisang said she grew up in a domestic farming family and the joy of eating food that they have cultivated instead of buying food that they can produce at home in the fields and garden motivated her to seek a career in agriculture. Having chosen the career, she learned that even though people plough, their plants seem to be destroyed by pests and therefore decided to take the route of plant protection. She also pointed out that women are more at risk of getting sick due to the chemicals that are used to protect food from pest, showing that diseases like cancer may be the results of such chemicals as we know Basotho women do take part in the cultivation of food and even just washing clothes of people who were spreading the chemicals can put their live at risk if not done properly.
In continuation she stated that as we begin a new year in our Basotho calendar, this is our season to start ploughing and due to the season change farmers should be more careful as this is the time where the pests and insects that have been hiding from the cold during winter come out and seek food as a result end up eating, destroying and hindering plant growth, insects like hoaba, masetlaoko, seoa, khupi, marutle are most common in this time of the year. She further motivated the farmers to continue producing food and learn to take care of their plant by checking them regularly and the progress of their soil in order to know in time when pest appear and be able to control the situation before it gets out of hand, for small gardens she showed that pest can be controlled by watering with the wild garlic (konofolo) but for fields and bigger grounds chemicals can be used to control pest. However, she mentioned that successful control by pesticides is not easy; the right formulation must be chosen and she encouraged farmers to consult the Ministry at all times.
On the notion that most Basotho complain about the Government asking them to plant crops in order to prevent importation of food that we are able to produce, she said the farmers have to learn to communicate with the Government through the Resource Centers near them letting them know what food they are planning to produce, as well as the quantities and they should pass the same information to the Ministry of Agriculture and to the Ministry of Trade as well as the quantities they perceive to produce so that the Ministry of Trade can help to prevent food to enter the country, she further said that farmers should market their produce. The producer must make sure that they follow the best soil management practice, production management, familiarize themselves with the steps for market access,so that they are able to meet the quality the international food standards.
As we know Sesotho says “Mosali o tšoara thipa ka bohaleng” so she passed the same words to the women as we closed this year’s women’s month saying “women need to take time planting their own food instead of spending money on food they can grow themselves. When we grow crops ourselves we are certain that the food is healthy and we will know when is the right time to eat our food”.
Basotho let’s get our hands dirty and produce the freshest and healthy food for our loved ones, work hard and make use of the soil and gardens we have, less flowers means more food and cash back rewards as one will be saving on grocery bill or two.