Writes: Tjonane Matla
The Silo Expo became Lesotho’s first expo nearly eight years ago. The expo was found with a purpose of complementing the advocacy done by Lesotho’s first and only agricultural publication, the Silo Magazine that was found on the 27th of July 2010. The Expo organizers have over a number of years managed to dialogue different themes and topics that are very relevant to Lesotho’s challenges. It is therefore from such challenges that through the symposium the farmers, government, financial institutions and other relevant Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) were able to mitigate such challenges and resolutions that would later be followed and mitigated by relevant stakeholders.
It is always very important to mention the achievements of this expo. Ten years ago Lesotho did not have any financial institution product for the farmers either being at the bank or insurance. At that time, very few farmers were farming using agriculture in protected environment methods like it is today. As a result the banks were very clear that they are not financing agricultural projects, while on the other hand the insurance companies were also not seeing any business opportunity except huge risks that were detected.
It did not only cost the Silo Magazine research and continuous publications on the matters surrounding the bottlenecks, but also perpetual dialogue in the search of mitigating such jams. After few years a breakthrough was made when Alliance Insurance became the first insurance company in Lesotho to actually launch the first agricultural insurance with focus in Lesotho’s then flourishing small-stock wool and mohair industry. That was followed by Zenith Insurance that later ventured not only into livestock but also crop insurance.
With regards to banking, the Lesotho Post Bank then after serious feasibility study conducted by international consultants, came up with strategies to finance Lesotho’s farming industry. There are many loose ends in farming and all these major players are considering doing business with the farmers. However risk adverse investors are still waiting for the Government of Lesotho to level the grounds for proper investment purposes.
The Silo Expo 2019
Embracing the Indigenous, was this year’s theme. Studies show that couple of times when people think growth and development, they never actually study the political, economic, social, technological and the competitive rivalry of environment in which a scenario is being analyzed. Quite often, Basotho who have travelled abroad in different countries see how things are done in such countries and want to implement them as they remember ideas without actually analyzing the environment to implement such ideas. Let alone if everyone in a strategic position in the Mountain Kingdom tries to implement what he learned else-where, are we ever going to reach our destiny? What can we really say about our National Vision 2020? Are we going to achieve what we crafted more than 20 years ago?
Embracing the Indigenous
The theme came about as a result of trying very much to lift-up what Basotho are already doing correctly. Experience has shown us that when it comes to livestock, Lesotho has been doing well but not exposing and exploiting certain of her products to the sophisticated markets.
For those who grew up in the mountains of Lesotho and having been exposed to our local mutton or beef, they would certainly agree that up to-date, when they go home, they normally bring a live-sheep at the back of their vans for Christmas or any other family gathering. The very Mountaineers are surely going to agree with me that the issue is nothing but the quality of meat that has grazed on the Seboku grass. Seboku is the red grass that is found predominantly in the mountains of Lesotho. It is a soft grass that even gives a certain very good flavour to the meat from both cattle and sheep.
Seboku Meat Festival
It was for that reason that the Silo went all out to the festival, and thanks to the sponsors of the Silo Expo 2019 who went all out to make assurance double sure that Seboku Meat was unearthed hence a remarkable success of the Seboku Meat Festival. Matekane Group of Companies, Alliance Insurance Group and Meraka Abattoir were our secret ingredient towards the success of the tasting festival that left us with multiple companies wanting to place orders.
Special thanks must also be given to the hospitality industries that actually took part in the meat tasting festival, which is not limited to the Chefs from Ka Pitseng, Mpilo Botique Hotel, Chef Ska Moteane, Avani Lesotho, Café What, Mahlakapesa, Chef Donald and Victory Hall. Contribution made by the above individuals and organisations formed the pioneering of appreciating our own Seboku meat. What is left shall only remain putting systems together and embracing this indigenous meat from native farmers to be readily available.
Symposium component of the expo
The dialogue was divided into six sessions under the above mentioned theme, and as follows: Inclusive farming for the masses, Inclusive financial solutions, Embracing the farmers wealth, Embracing the indigenous, Re-engineering livestock industry and embracing Basotho enterprises. As usual, the expo was decorated with a gala dinner where Advocate Caroline Mc Cann was the keynote speaker. Adv. Mc Cann, Johannesburg Northern Suburbs Butcher and a Councilor of Slow Food International and a couple of other international organisations that believe in natural meat. She is a Co-founder of the South African Grass-fed Association.
It was in the same gala-dinner where the Chief Executive of Matekane Group of Companies Sam Matekane announced his perpetual support for initiatives such as the Silo Expo. Matekane furthermore announced that if it was not because of the bottlenecks in the wool and mohair industry, his company and the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association could have moved a distance in terms of using technology for stock theft prevention. He concluded by appealing to authorities to normalize the situation so that investment could be secured for the wool and mohair industry.
Adv. Mc Cann’s role was not only to unearth the Seboku Meat of Lesotho but to show-case the need for protocols that can govern the Seboku brand. Such protocols are not limited to the environmental issues that include the issues of sound management of rangelands, protection of water sources or wetlands and the animal welfare. Caroline’s efforts are towards registration of such protocols for Lesotho.
Bore Motsamai, a retired and experienced ranger from the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho gave a lecture on the history of rangelands in Lesotho, while Bongani Ntloko supplemented that with a paper on biodiversity conservation and native seed collection.
The next expo shall be next September 2020, and the theme shall be the parable of the Sower. Expo 2020 shall be celebrated as the eighth annual expo, while the publication shall be celebrating ten years of existence.
Bore Motsamai Sam Matekane Caroline Mc Cann