On the left is the land with Karoo Shrubs (Sehalahala)
which belongs to the nearby village. This land shares the
boundary with the Royal Mphatšoenyane sheep and cattle post,
which is a work in progress of removal of Sehalahala
championed by Chief Masopha.
Ka: Tshepo Heqoa and Tjonane Matla
Since inception of the Silo magazine, the Silo had been in contact with Morena Masopha Seeiso, the younger brother to the late King Moshoeshoe II. Morena Masopha was well known for closely mentoring his brother’s sons namely the current Lesotho King Letsie III, born Mohato Bereng Seeiso and His brother His Royal Highness Morena Seeiso Bereng Seeiso. Tjonane Matla and Tshepo Heqoa reveal some of the trading farming secrets of the royal family.
Most of the Basotho shall be witnesses that the Lesotho royal family has been for centauries in the heart of agriculture. It is therefore with pride to introduce Morena Masopha, His Majesty’s Uncle as one of the strongest farmers ever produced by the royal family. According to the Chief, his farming skills were instilled in him in his childhood. Him and his siblings King Moshoeshoe II, Chief Mathealira Seeiso were groomed through agriculture, growing as herd boys, ploughing and harvesting field crops.
At home, he said, they were allocated fields to plough whereas the yield from the fields would belong to them. Morena Masopha revealed that Nkhono ‘Maseeiso, their grandmother, was responsible for selling their grain and therefore invested their harvest in procurement of small-stock hence they overtime accumulated very significant number of sheep and cattle.
It is therefore only proper to say that the DNA or fabric of the royal family is predominantly good farming history and practices for self-reliance, hence Morena Masopha brags as follows:
“Which is easy, can you take the forest out of the wolf or the wolf out of the forest? People who grew within certain systems are hard to convince otherwise from the beliefs and customs of such systems. People who do not like agriculture are those that worked under duress, as it was more of a punishment than a way to support life itself.”
Morena Masopha owns merino sheep not exceeding 850 that are well monitored to produce the medium wool with an average of 19.5 microns. To maintain this quality he said that he breeds and buys medium wool rams from South Africa. One of his very best rams is named Sputnic. A ram he bought from Heuningkrans Stud, a well renowned farm owned by Eddie Prinsloo commonly known as Mojela amongst the Basotho small-stock farmers. Sputnic was fathered by the award Heuningkrans Stud winning lamb at Nampo 2017. The story of the lamb is covered in The Silo magazine, volume 8, Issue 4.
Conservation farming and diversification
Couple of years ago we interviewed the Founding Chairman of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) the late Ntate Moholo Mojalefa Lephole of Matelile Ha Qaba. In such interviews about the history of the industry and the challenges experienced, Ntate Lephole talked largely about the intelligence and vision of Chief Masopha Seeiso. Ntate Lephole revealed that he and Morena Masopha Seeiso and other Principal Chiefs paid a visit to New Mexico in the United States of America. Lephole was clear that if all Principal Chiefs at that time, which is approximately 30 years ago, adopted what they learned in New Mexico, Lesotho’s rangelands could have been very rich and not in the current condition.
The interview was conducted at Mojalefa Lephole residence at the veranda of the house facing the east where Morena Masopha’s sheep and cattle post Hlokoa le Mafi was visible. It was at that time that Ntate Lephole insisted that The Silo visit Morena Masopha’s cattle and sheep post. Few weeks after interviewing Ntate Lephole a visit was paid to Morena Masopha to talk about his experiences on the New Mexico trip, of which he requested that we should arrange for a day where we could get all those who were in that trip to share their experiences with us, and he will be available. Shortly after that Ntate Moholo Mojalefa Lephole passed away before that could be arranged, but we still managed to casually talk with him and Morena Masopha on the same topic rangelands couples of times until we had a good picture of what they had learned.
As we shall be launching the Seboku Meat Certification Protocols in Lesotho during the coming Expo 2019, we are revealing that we paid a visit to the Mphatšoenyane Royal Sheep and Cattle Post located at Semonkong where we actually saw Morena Masopha’s good work on management of the rangelands. He furthermore requested our team to pay a visit to Ha Samuele, just 5 km out of Semenkong on the way to Qacha’s Nek. Morena Masopha argues that without the rangelands, there is no livestock, therefore farmers must voluntarily remove the karoo shrub commonly known as sehalahala in Sesotho, so that the proper grass can grow and animals prosper.
Editor Tjonane Matla’s interview with Founding Chairman of LNWMGA – Mojalefa Lephole
on the 26th of July 2016 at Matelile Ha Qaba. Although the interview was based on the
history of wool and mohair in Lesotho, when it came to the challenges of range
management in Lesotho. Lephole saluted Masopha Seeiso of Matsieng.
Morena Masopha’s vaccination programme has revelled much of the royal farming secrets as to how he has succeeded as a farmer. However as much as we could name his farming methods secrets, they are more of open secrets if there is such a phrase as he keeps advising everybody of these good practices.
All agricultural activities are planned throughput, keeping record toward every detail at his farm. Well before the breeding season in April, as early as February, he revealed that the ewes are vaccinated so that they may be in a position to receive rams. In like manner, the rams are also vaccinated and given both the homemade ram-feed that include additives and specialised ram feed he buys.
Morena Masopha Seeiso believes in vaccinating to prevent the diseases,
rather than the other way round. (Below)
“I did not have a scholarship when I went to school. I was taken by agriculture. My children are able to school because of livestock farming. The truth is, I was observant toward the cash inflows at home and I realised what really contributed more to the growth of our family’s economics. We grew up seeing that our lives were improved more by Agricultural activities.”
Masopha divulged that the best experience he always has is when he receives the financial rewards of his hard labours but the saddest has by far been the disruption of the fibre industry brought the Government of Lesotho.
“For the first time in my life have I come across a situation where the malefactors in this country have committed such high order crimes following the weakness of our leaders. Needless to say it has been the bitterest experience because as farmers, there are many things that should be done with the money that comes from the animals including their welfare.”
Morena Masopha revealed to The Silo crew that he never had any outbreak diseases killing his flock. He buys Blanthrax and Redlime in large quantities after checking their expiry dates. Blanthrax is a vaccine (antibiotics) that gives the animals the immunity against anthrax and Black-quarter. Redlime is predominately used to treat lice. After purchasing these vaccines, he stores them safely as recommended in the storage instructions.
“I hate seeing my animals scraping themselves. Once it scratches itself I know that it is either sheep scab or lice. I control lice with Redlime. I open the wool on the back of the sheep and apply it to the tale. From the neck, one would notice a stain, I apply “pour-on”. At the time of shearing I will not be able to see where the pour-on was applied. As the wool grows it faints off. Therefore every time after shearing (three weeks later) I dip the flock.”