Writes; Tshepo Heqoa
Little has been said and written about the district of Qacha’s Nek. After all it has been one of the furthest places from the Country’s capital. Over the years, until recently when a road from Semonkong through Qacha was constructed, this district had been the least in both productivity and industry. In the minds of many, thoughts have come leaving impressions that futility and Qacha are well synonymous while on the contrary, the true picture regarding the district could be one not drawn by imagination, but a recital of many wonderful facts.
While narrating the historical changes that have made this one district a wonder and a check point on agricultural journeys, it is also most imperative to mention the inexpressible organisation initiated in this part of the country.
The entirety of Qacha’s Nek village associations are registered with the biggest body of the region; Qacha’s Nek District Farmers Association. This association was created primarily for the purpose of capacitating the thresholds of many households engaged in diverse agricultural activities. It is also in turn affiliated to the Lesotho National Farmers Union (LENAFU).
LENAFU is an apex body in the country created solely to function as the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the farmers’ interests in Lesotho. Its membership was initially composed of 10 district farmers’ unions (DFUs), which were set up to facilitate the creation of the national body. It was later joined by the National Wool and Mohair Growers Association, which has been the major and oldest commodity-based national farmer’s organization in the country.
This district that is constituted of valleys and mountain ranges, was divided into a number of stations, each having the Qacha’s Nek Farmers Association ambassador. The distance between each station is far and wide covering places from Qhoalinyane, Sehlabathebe, Matebeng through to Lebakeng. These stations assist in providing much information to the association with regard to the agricultural activities taking place in all the regions of the district and are therefore of invaluable importance towards assisting every agricultural venture to make it a success.
In the villages, the organizations affiliated to the Qacha’s Nek District Farmers Association have adapted different categories of production in which many are not only thriving but are also flourishing in what they do. The Enterprises range from Piggery, Poultry production (layers and broilers), Petroleum Jelly production, orchards, grains, legumes and vegetable production.
As such a force, inclusive of animal husbandry, the organisations in the villages conjugate together to form one large District farmers Association. The latter also syndicate with a number of other District Associations to report to LENAFU. But every farmer works independently with his own property at the primary level.
Qacha was once rated tenth amongst all the districts of Lesotho but a radical change has been distinguished in the difference of less than five years. Ranging from the forth position in 2014, it has moved to be the first in Wool and Mohair production. The majority of the farmers in Qacha have food harvested from their fields from the past growing seasons.
Temo-‘moho has however decimally failed in this district as it did also in many other districts. To give thought, time and personal effort in rectifying challenges that emanated from last year’s failure of bloc farming on the part of the government would not only be a wise move, but would give rise to many household micro economies as well as Lesotho’s GDP at large.
In the district of Qacha as in many highland locations of the country, the growing season is very short meaning the value of time in agriculture is beyond computation. Soil tenure starts as early as the eighth month in order to avoid frost in the month of March before many crops get struck before reaching senescence.
The farmers in this locality of the country have also cooperated with the government’s campaign of orchards assembly throughout the valleys, mountains and plateaus of the land. Throughout the entirety of the country, only a few companies or individuals have been engaged in fruit production at a large capacity. The likes of Tlhohonolofatso Nkhasi and two World Bank funded Projects in Leribe and Botha-Bothe are the only entities that are capitalising on the best crowing conditions the country can provide efficiently.
Farmers are planting fruit trees on a large scale. But the impending problem surfaces to be the market. Qacha is quite far from the Maseru city, neither is it near to any close by township in the country. This therefore poses a challenge of who to sell the A-Grade produce their land is able to give.