South African farmers help more than a quarter of a million hungry people in Lesotho
The South African Government and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are scheduled to deliver to needy people in Lesotho the final consigment of maize meal purchased from emerging South African famers as part of hunger relief efforts in the Mountain Kingdom. The last of twenty trucks carrying more than 700 metric tonnes of maize meal – enough to provide daily school meals to 27,700 children for a school year – are set to leave a mill in Nigel on Wednesday,14 January 2015 bound for Maseru, the capital of Lesotho.
This initiative has been made possible by the South African Government’s contribution of R180 million to WFP in response to a major food crisis declared in Lesotho in 2012. These funds have since enabled WFP to provide critical food assistance to some 263,000 vulnerable women and children. These include pre-school and primary school children as well as pregnant and nursing women who have been receiving special nutritional products for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition.
As part of its commitment to support smallholder farmers, in agreement with the Government of South Africa, WFP has sourced 40 percent of the cereals needed for Lesotho from smallholder farmers in South Africa. To date, WFP has purchased from this sector more than 4,300 metric tons of maize and sugar beans, worth R21 million.
The South African Government is pleased to be part of this endeavor to help those who are deprived in Lesotho. Equally, the South African Government has hailed this partnership with WFP which says it is committed to supporting the Government in integrating smallholder farmers further into the economy.
This was the first time that WFP has purchased commodities for its regional operations from smallholder farmers in South Africa. As part of the R180 million South African donation to Lesotho, WFP also procured some 16,000 metric tons of commodities, worth R117 million from commercial traders in South Africa.
WFP is increasingly exploring ways to empower smallholder farmers through food purchases and better marketing capacity – drawing on lessons learned from its global ‘Purchase for Progress’ initiative. In recent years, this project supported farmers, helping them grow more, sell more (including to WFP for use in food assistance programmes), earn more, and become competitive players in their local markets. From its Regional Bureau in Johannesburg, WFP last year purchased 114,000 metric tons of food worth $58.4 million from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
Before seeing the final dispatch of smallholder maize for Lesotho on Wednesday, Government of South Africa and WFP officials are due to visit farms belonging to the Zivusemi and Temaretha Co-operatives. WFP has purchased nearly 750 metric tons of maize, worth R3 million, from these two co-ops alone.
To date, more than 100 South Africa smallholder farmer organisations have been registered on WFP’s food supplier database. In addition, WFP and partners have provided training on a range of subjects including storage and post-harvest handling to hundreds of members of South African farmer organisations and government officials.
Clayson Monyela (DIRCO)
Tel: 082 884 5974
David Orr (WFP)
Tel: 082 908 1417
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS