His Excellency the President of IFAD,
Distinguished Delegates and Participants,
On behalf of the delegation of Lesotho and on my behalf, I commend IFAD Secretariat for prompting its Governors to ponder on one of the important, but most forgotten topic instrumental to the reduction of hunger and poverty in our countries – youth participation in agriculture. The agriculture and food security sector continues to face many serious challenges which, include, inter alia, mainstreaming of youth programmes in agriculture, adoption of more efficient and sustainable methods of production, and adaptation to climate change.
In recent months Lesotho experienced heavy torrential rains of untold proportions which resulted into flooding whereby crops in the fields, homesteads and roads infrastructure were destroyed. In the recent FAO press report, it says that in some parts of Southern Africa, the La Nina weather phenomenon has brought heavier than normal rainfall, which killed animals and destroyed thousands of hectares of agricultural land and crops. The rainy season is only half-way and the torrential rains are expected to peak in the remaining months.
From the above-mentioned challenges I find it relevant therefore, that the theme of the 34th IFAD Session of the Governing Council recognises the important of youth, particularly the rural youth, in agricultural development in order to meet future food demand and contribute to economic growth in our countries. The theme – Feeding future generations: young rural people today – prosperous, productive farmers tomorrow – rightfully reminds us that we should invest in building the capacity of the rural youth to enable them to effectively participate in farming.
We in Lesotho realise that a big chunk of agricultural land is in the hands of the elderly and resource poor HIV and AIDS orphans who are not able to effectively utilise the land at their proposal. To remedy this problem we have just passed in Parliament, a new legislation on land. This Land Act 2010 will facilitate that land be made available to those (youth included) who can use it productively and towards curbing of food insecurity in Lesotho.
Chairperson and Excellencies,
The Ministry has a formal agriculture institution, which offers training on essential livelihood skills, amongst which agriculture is core. The main target here being youth who are interested in agriculture training. At this institution Diploma and Certificate programmes are offered which equip young would-be farmers or extension agents with the necessary technical and entrepreneurial skills. In addition, we offer non-qualification programmes geared for those youth who are not able to go beyond primary level education. In terms of explicit vocational education the Ministry has a number of Farmers Training Centres which are currently being rehabilitated to revive training of our young farmers. This year’s theme serves as a reminder that we should accelerate these plans so that we can influence interest of the young back to farming and at a more professional level.
The Ministry of Education and Training in Lesotho has been urged to review the school curriculum starting at primary level such that agriculture is included as a compulsory subject. This strategy aims at raising the awareness and interest of youth in agriculture.
We further express our heartfelt appreciation for a continued support by the IFAD to enhance agricultural development in Lesotho in order to reduce levels of poverty and food insecurity particularly in the rural and poverty-stricken, regions of Lesotho. We are looking forward to the successful implementation of a programme on Small-holder Agriculture Development co-financed by both IFAD and the World Bank. We also thank IFAD for the support provided when we held our National Forum on Food Security in June 2010. The recommendations made during that forum contributed to the final shaping of our upcoming Smallholder Agricultural Development Programme. We look forward to our long and profitable partnership in future.
I wish to extent our sincere condolences and prayers to all the Nations which experienced severe floods which unfortunately destroyed both human and animal life, and also destroyed the essential infrastructure. These are the vagaries of nature which we do not have control over. We only hope that some assistance will come forth to help them rebuild their lives. We wish all the member nations that have experienced any other natural disasters of any form recently, a successful and sustainable reconstruction process.
In express our heartfelt appreciation for a continued support by the IFAD and it sister UN agencies, in our efforts to improve the country’s agricultural development and reduce levels of poverty and food insecurity particularly in the rural and poverty-stricken regions of Lesotho.
I thank you
19 February 2011