Vol.4, Issue 3
Writes Tjonane Matla
The first thing that I discovered at Ambassador Mohlomi Rantekoa’s farm was tidiness, order and proper care of his new tractors and implements. Although when I expressed that I am impressed, he said “Thanks but I am still not happy because I have not yet managed to erect a proper shelter for them.”
It is not common in most Basotho farm yards to find what we experienced at Khanyane, Ha Moliboea at Rantekoa farm plot. The planters were covered with sails, ploughs and disk harrows nicely oiled as if fact it is normally a recommendation written on most of such implements. As if it was not enough, we actually saw the same order in his kraal and at the maize and sugar beans fields where he cultivated more than 45 hectors of land.
Rantekoa graduated in from National University of Lesotho in 1978 with Bachelors of Arts with majors in Accounting, Government and Administration. He had been one of the top civil servants most of his life, serving in His Majesty’s Government and in Public Enterprises, the Lesotho Electricity Corporation as CEO by then. The question is when then did he develop keen interest in farming? One can argue that apart from growing up doing most of the subsistence farming duties like any normal village boy, the amount of exposure he had while travelling the world, should surely make him a better farmer than most, even if he is a new comer as small holder commercial farmer.
He planted both white and yellow maize (PAN 12, SNK2778, PAN4M19) sugar beans PAN 148 and not about one hector of potatoes. All his produce shall hit different market outlets as maize shall either be sold to one of the milling companies in Lesotho while the potatoes and sugar beans are almost sold before harvesting, to the local companies as well.
Although he is not doing cattle feedlot at a high scale, he is able to score credit of few thousands in his bank account every time they mature for grade “A” beef.
Like any other block farmer, he as well experienced serious stress while procuring the agricultural inputs while preparing for the summer season, however he was able to hit more than his acreage target. As an experienced Public Administrator, he recommends serious change of mind set, in approaching farmers and the way subsidies are distributed.
He as well realized the problem of advance payments for farmers to address working capital, but believes that fast tracking payments to less than a week, could be a solution, and that can only be achieved if lesser documents and processing desks are reduced. Moreover he even preferred banks to be considered to tender to process such payments.
- It really takes a long time for our societies to bear fruit of educating their children to be able to gain a sound financial muscle to invest heavily and properly in agricultural development. It might therefore be an idea for the training institutions to consider attaching their agricultural students to organized farmers, and this would be more than National Service for our youth.
- The government should consider increasing the plough rate for land that was fallow for years from M240/acre as it damages hydraulic lift pumps of tractors, Rantekoa’s New Holland that was bought in April 2012 was a victim, much as many others inclusive of one owned by The Silo Farm in Mahobong, Ha-Seetsa, and it is expensive to repair.
- The national maize yield standard for Lesotho is 4 tons per hector, so it is worth comparing this with harvest in future, and find reasons for either adverse or favourable variance.