Write; Tshepo Heqoa
“Sustainable agriculture implies producing our own food today without compromising our children’s ability to produce even much more in the future. If we do not protect our natural resources, one day soon we may not be able to sustain our livelihoods and our children’s future. If this happens, our children may never forgive us.”
In Response to the El-Nino induced drought in Lesotho during the period 2015-2016, the United Nations in Lesotho made an initiative of hosting a Media Breakfast that preceded diverse trips (field) that were aimed for showcasing the helpful efforts of the UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). This was following an alarm by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of another possible El-Nino occurrence in the last half of the year 2017. A great need to strengthen the emergency preparedness and the reduction of structural vulnerabilities by encouraging community resilience were also the focal point of the day’s great agenda.
With respect to the outline, the UN – through its multiple urgencies (FAO, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA)- demonstrated a remarkable avidity in the intervention of the Livelihood recovery and the Social Protection of local Basotho people living below the poverty line. The sectors dealt with by these urgencies were Nutrition and WASH, Food Security, Agriculture and Health- FAO focusing on Agriculture. These all being a simple demonstration of what the UN is doing within the country.
As a consequence of these reliefs, FAO decided to visit an agricultural organisation called Mphatlalatsane Naleli at Mahobong- inclusive of its 16 independent members under Conservation Agriculture. Also within a set number of goals the trip’s purpose was to view and demonstrate how the beneficiaries profited from the aid apportioned them by the donors.
A brief Summary
This year FAO assisted farmers with seeds (for both home gardens and fields) as a means of reducing structural vulnerabilities through bolstering community resilience. In the Mahobong constituency, the beneficiaries were given six 10kg garden seeds (ZM 521) in addition to the bean seeds (Panna 148) they were provided with.
The reason of handing out the above mentioned non-hybrid seeds was to make provision for personal seed selection so as to eliminate the need of further buying it from seed companies due to the reason that such aids may not always avail themselves. The 4m x 4m shade nets were also given for the perennial production of certain vegetables. Moreover, the LAN (6 2 1 (3 1)) was provided for the aim of improving yields and soil fertility. The Grazing veg –one of the many remarkable soil covers- was provided for an added advantage of livestock feed.
One of the farmers, named Mohapi Mosheru alluded with so much joy the CA’s details to all the participating sentinels. As he gladly flowed through the details and peculiarity of this new intervention they had received as opposed to the conventional tillage system, one would reckon an unspeakable satisfaction expressed by his countenance.
“Faithfully, we have used the seeds given to us my dear sirs and kind madams, we planted them. Besides this assurance we are providing, it will be equally important as well to mention that our initiatives were not without challenges as we faced some here and there. A few seeds were given us and those included maize, beans, and vegetables. The sum of all I am talking about is true as it will be witnessed by a tour we are about to lead you through shortly to verify if we did accordingly. By the aid of all our human efforts we attempted by hook or by crook to cover the soil that it may retain both the moisture and quality life in it. This is only possible when we protect our soil from the scorching radiation of the sun which ultimately destroys the quality of the soil. Thus our land will always retain the capacity to produce crops all year round.”
He further mentioned that this type of agriculture is not necessarily hard provided partakers of it take note of these basic yet fundamental principles of it;
- Minimum tillage and soil disturbance
- Permanent soil cover with residues (dead bio-mass) and live mulches
- Crop rotation and intercropping
Paul Motseki – a core-member of the Mphatlalatsane Naleli association emphatically reiterated the words spoken by Ntate Mohapi thus giving the media houses represented the grand assurance that all was on upgrade. Without a single doubt, the entirety of all the demonstrations facilitated through the few exhibitions of Conservation Agriculture were unprecedented. The very name of the agricultural system conjured perfectly with the positive results of changing the livelihoods of the less advantaged and the world’s climatic conditions at large.
His Excellency, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations- Kofi Annan when elaborating on the need of conservation once said; “the farmer knows instinctively, that one takes something from the soil, only to bring it back. The law of conservation is the law of nature.”
“There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud.”
These farmers understood quite clearly the implications emanating from the elite’s notion as advocated by the yields each seemed satisfied to have attained. On a 0.1 acre of land Ntate Paul harvested 9 bags (50kg each) of sorghum through the precision he had in the practise of CA. Seven silos of black and grey Sunflower heads, and 18 scotch cars of maize (expecting 36 bags) through conventional tillage which is for home consumption and trade.
“We must protect the environment that feeds us. We must protect our families. While we have produced food crops through conventional tillage for many years, this has come at great cost to our environment and soil productivity with negative impact on our household’s food security. Conservation agriculture offers us the best opportunity for climate change adaptaion.”