Writes : Tshepo Heqoa and ‘Makarabo Mats’umunyane
Despite the excruciating experiences of having Government entities withdrawing from the expo sponsorship, the 2018 Silo Expo has been one of the most successful events held in the country, a monument of men and women’s efforts towards the success of the agricultural sector. “Engaging the African farmer’s child in the 2030 zero hunger targets” was the grand theme of this year’s expo aimed at alleviating hunger by the year 2030.
The Silo Expo was held from the 18th to the 20th September 2018 with an opening auction whereby genetically improved pigs from PIC were auctioned. The auction went well and could have even been better if farmers were more willing to invest in the improvement of their herds and industry. A total of fifteen sows and two boars were all sold by midday, whilst the exhibitions commenced further in and outside the symposium hall.
Different exhibitors from in and out of the country were present including Roff Industries exhibiting Agricultural Machinery and a sheep shearing demonstration which was conducted by local graduates displaying their newly invented electric equipment for faster shearing.
The 2018 Expo was honoured by the presence of Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso who viewed all the exhibition stalls and part of the auction. Some of the honourable members of the Economic Cluster Committee of Lesotho National Assembly graced the opening dinner with their presence.
The opening dinner then commenced on the evening of the 18th where the retired Chairman of Modiano, Derick Pape was presenting “A journey of Lesotho’s wool clip”. The burning issue in the Agricultural sector since the start of 2018 has always been wool and mohair marketing and trading. An opportunity was presented through the panel discussion for people to ask questions directly to
Derick Pape as one of the Lesotho wool buyers. Modiano as one of the nine worldwide wool buyers is the largest wool buyer of the Lesotho wool clip.
The Expo theme was further discussed in the symposium where many speakers presented on different topics each with unique expertise and engagements.
Morena Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, the Principal Chief of Matsieng and a Senator presented on the topic “I was a farmer’s Child and I am a farmer today”. Here he emphasized the importance of a Mosotho Farmer’s child being raised to know that he/she is a farmer today by being engaged at an early stage of life.Morena Seeiso Bereng Seeiso who was also at one point in his life nicknamed, “Molisana oa linku le lipuli tsa molisa e moholo” not the Principal Chief of Matsieng, illustrated the challenge facing animal husbandry and crop production in Lesotho.
He shared with the moderators, the presenters and the rest of the floor that the generations that came after independence were being advised that the formal education that lead us to universities is the only channel of preparing the youth for the future.
“I say this because when one takes note of the number of students who focus on passing certain subjects only that they may be clerks in the government and think of how many students desire to learn at the Lesotho Agricultural College, the contrast is scary.”
A prevalent impetus is that when a student failed to attend NUL, but rather went to colleges it therefore meant that they were less competent than a NUL student.
The Expo was then concluded with a piggery training that was conducted by PIC which is one of the two largest pig genetics companies in South Africa.
Pig farmers were educated on artificial insemination, the correct time to do artificial insemination and the signs by which they can be able to know when their sows are ready for artificial insemination. There is a scarcity of family owned farms in Lesotho and this is probably because we fail at a critical time of engaging children at an early stage of life to not despise agriculture so that they become farmers today.
There are very few family-owned entities in general whose origin can be traced back to previous generations and this is evidence that we have not been educated enough to understand the importance of family owned entities and how they can be passed from generation to generation.
Generally, most of the Expo speakers strongly pointed out that we Basotho neglect agriculture, both in homes and in schools. Agriculture is mostly regarded as a career of people who cannot do well at school and who do not qualify in other careers. It is high time that we change our mentality since agriculture is the only sector that can help to eradicate hunger in our country and help us in achieving the zero hunger target by 2030.