Planning is key to food security
BEYOnD the welcome relief from the heat which is very oppressive in summer, the rains which have been pounding various parts of the country are certainly welcome to the farming community in the country.
But without proper planning on the part of both farmers and government, the rains will come and go without corresponding progress in the country’s ability to ensure food security.
it is no secret that just like in most african countries and other developing nations in other continents, food production in our beloved Mountain kingdom is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
Periodic droughts and the lack of a coordinated approach to planning in agriculture have ensured that 51 years after independence, we continue to wear the unenviable tag of net importers of food in addition to surviving on donations.
We are heavily dependent on South africa to the extent that more than 70 percent of the food products in our shops are imported from our neighbour.
This is despite the fact that we are blessed with abundant water sources which South africa is increasingly relying on to meet the needs of its major commercial hub, the gauteng province.
Even Botswana is now seeking a share of our abundant water resources.
So it will be that in the coming years we will see dams constructed and piped water flowing past parched local villages on their way to South africa and Botswana.
These local villages which remain without clean water could easily be turned into veritable green belts only if government and other stakeholders take the initiative to plan beyond dependence on the whims and caprices of the heavens to open up and provide rains.
it is imperative for government to begin a systematic process of planning to ensure that agricultural activities in the country are predictable, certain and can be conducted beyond the natural summer rain season. This is what will lead to food security in the country.
Such planning should result in water harvesting initiatives that can support irrigated crop production to ensure allyear production.
Water harvesting could also lead to aqua culture which would go a long way in solving the nutrition deficiencies which result from our obsession with the production of the maize crop which is only good for providing carbohydrates and not the balanced nutrition our bodies require for health and general wellbeing.
it is therefore our humble plea to the authorities to seriously consider investing more in terms of time, planning, preparedness and resources to ensure food and nutrition security.
Water harvesting is a critical component as it can also spur the growth of downstream industries including taking care of our energy requirements through hydro-electric power generation.
We should at least take a leaf from nations such as israel.
The tiny Middle East country which is half the size of our kingdom is largely desert. But careful planning and investment in water harvesting infrastructure such as dams, have ensured that it is not only self-sufficient in terms of its water needs but also in terms of food production which is carried out all year round.
WiLL the Southern african Development Community (SaDC) get it right in Lesotho this time? after over three years of quite intense diplomacy, the regional body has failed to end the chronic instability in a tiny country that ought to be manageable.
That failure was underscored dramatically on 5 September when Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-general khoantle Motšomotšo was shot dead in his Ratjomose Barracks office in Maseru by his subordinates Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi. They, in turn, were swiftly shot dead by Lt-gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards. now it looks as though at last SaDC intends to bring the necessary force to bear on the problem. SaDC military chiefs are meeting in Luanda, angola, where — Prime Minister Tom Thabane and most other Basotho hope — they will approve a proposal to send a full battalion of troops into Lesotho by the end of this month.
That force may just be enough to provide Dr Thabane with the protection he needs to act against members of the LDF who have effectively been running the country for years, killing enemies and committing many other crimes with impunity. The LDF has been destabilising Lesotho for decades. But it placed itself firmly on SADC’s trouble list in august 2014 when then LDF commander Lt-gen Tlali kamoli launched an attempted coup against Dr Thabane’s government, forcing him and some of his allies to flee to South Africa.
SaDC called a summit and provided protection for Dr Thabane to return to the country. SaDC special envoy Cyril Ramaphosa, South africa’s deputy president, then negotiated an agreement with all Basotho parties to bring forward scheduled elections two years to February 2015, to try to address the problem. in those elections Dr Thabane was defeated by a coalition led by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
But the elections did not bring the hoped-for stability. Four months later, Lt-gen Maaparankoe Mahao, who had been Dr Thabane’s defence chief, was shot dead. He was allegedly resisting arrest by soldiers sent by Dr Mosisili’s reinstated defence chief Lt-gen kamoli to bring him in for supposed complicity in a mutiny plot.
SaDC then conducted the Phumaphi judicial commission of inquiry into Ltgen Mahao’s killing and into the underlying causes of Lesotho’s chronic instability. it recommended a raft of political, constitutional and security sector reforms as well as stern action against Ltgen Mahao’s killers. These Dr Mosisili largely ignored.
Under extreme outside pressure (mainly from the United States it seems) he did eventually fire Lt-Gen Kamoli in December last year, but that was about all. and so Dr Thabane returned to office after winning elections in June this year, vowing to implement SaDC’s recommendations.
The dramatic initial result was the murder of Lt-gen Motšomotšo, reportedly shot dead precisely because he had insisted on carrying out Dr Thabane’s — and SaDC’s — instructions to take action against those implicated in the killing of Lt-gen Mahao and other crimes. These included Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi, both henchmen of Lt-gen kamoli.
Rather ironically, amnesty international last month accused Dr Thabane of failing to tackle the “deeply entrenched culture of impunity for past human rights violations”, lamenting the lack of clear progress in solving a series of cases involving killings by Lesotho’s security forces. Only trouble is that when he tried to do just that, the result was the killing of his defence chief.
The killing of Lt-gen Motšomotšo appears at last to have jolted SaDC into recognition of the true nature of the problem in Lesotho. Leaders put their heads together and dispatched a ministerial fact-finding mission to the country on 8 September led by angolan Foreign Minister georges Chikoti (as angola currently chairs SaDC’s organ on politics, defence and security). The ministerial mission reported to a double-troika summit (involving the heads of SaDC itself and the organ) in Pretoria on 15 September. The summit approved Dr Thabane’s request for a regional ‘multi-dimensional’ standby force comprising military, security, intelligence and civilian experts, to assist the government manage the security crisis.
From 25 to 27 September, a SaDC technical assessment team visited Lesotho “to assess the security situation in the kingdom, and determine the requirements and prepare modalities for deploying a multidimensional SaDC Contingent Force by 1 november, 2017”, SaDC said in a statement. after consultation with a wide range of Lesotho stakeholders, the team prepared a detailed report. This included recommendations on the requirements and modalities for the proposed contingent force of military, police and civilian components as well as its draft concept of operation, rules of engagement and status of forces agreement.
SaDC’s military chiefs are now meeting in Luanda to decide whether to adopt these recommendations. The critical one, according to SADC official sources, is that the contingent force should be battalion size in strength. if that is agreed, as seems likely, it should be strong enough to allow Dr Thabane to start acting against the LDF renegades — including, most dangerously, Lt-gen kamoli himself — without fear of provoking further assassinations of top security commanders, or even a military coup.
Professor Mafa Sejanamane of the political science department of the national University of Lesotho believes that SaDC has at last realised that it must first tackle the security sector issues in Lesotho before embarking on the broader political and constitutional reforms recommended by the Phumaphi commission.
Prof Sejanamane wrote in a recent blog that this recognition had been missing from SaDC’s earlier interventions, “which saw politics as opposed to security as the source of Lesotho’s unstable environment. Thus in 2015, SaDC prescribed elections as a solution rather than to suppress the army rebellion. Following the murder of Lt-gen Motšomotšo, SaDC has now been disabused of the tinkering around with the security vacuum in Lesotho but wants it solved”.
according to Prof Sejanamane, Mr Chikoti’s report to the 15 September SaDC double-troika meeting also included recommendations for an assessment of all of SaDC’s previous interventions in Lesotho. These were to date back to the military incursion of 1998 which prevented a coup — but at the cost of many lives and much material destruction.
if the military chiefs in angola do indeed endorse the recommendation of a full battalion to be deployed into Lesotho by 1 november, this will presumably be the trigger for Dr Thabane to really start moving against the LDF renegades. Some SaDC officials insist that the mission of the contingent force will be more about “putting brains on the ground than boots on the ground”. They say the force’s initial aim will be to try to “influence” the behaviour of key players, most notably to persuade the military to stay out of politics.
But if past experience is anything to go by, brawn will prove at least as important as brains, if SaDC’s intervention is to succeed this time.
Mr Fabricius is an ISS consultant. UR contribution has to be given not only for the liquidation of the colonial system but also for the liquidation of ignorance, disease and primitive forms of social organization, ” Agostinho Neto, the late first president of Angola (1975–1979), having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974).