Maseru – The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Nthabiseng Makoae says the country has achieved a number of milestones through China-Lesotho JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project.
This, she said at the promotion seminar of China-aid JUNCAO held at the Chinese Embassy in Maseru on Friday with the aim to promote mushroom and JUNCAO grass production under the auspices of China-aid JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project.
JUNCAO technology is a comprehensive technology utilising herbaceous plants (mainly refers to grasses) to grow edible and medicinal mushrooms, and produce fungi forage and fungi fertilizers with spent substrates.
She said the Chinese expert team has in the past given guidance and training to local mushroom technicians and farmers as well as technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture.
She added that a centre mother unit was established at Masianokeng and is used as a mushroom demonstration base for provision of high quality spawn (mushroom seed) to the mushroom growers in Lesotho.
However, she said although over the years mushroom farming has shown to have potential for supporting socio-economic development and in turn addressing poverty and unemployment, particularly among women and youth, but the challenge has been that of continuity and sustainability of such projects.
She stated that when each phase ended, experts left and funding also ended, indicating that when the third phase ended in 2015, production of mushroom declined due to lack of spawn availability.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Small Businesses, Cooperatives and Marketing, Mr. Chalane Phori said the success of JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project equates a success to the sustainability of micro, small, and medium enterprises because when there is a yield in the agrarian sector, his Ministry chips in.
He said when farmers harvest, the ministry’s role is to seek flourishing markets so that the products are sold and thereafter income is generated.
He therefore commended the government of China, through the Chinese Embassy, on its enthusiasm and the undying support it gives to Basotho.
The Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Dr. Sun Xianghua said the embassy will work tirelessly to encourage and help small and micro JUNCAO practitioners in Lesotho.
He indicated that the embassy will look into its own budget and try to come up with a financial incentive programme.
“We will discuss the arrangements and details with the Ministry of Small Businesses and that of Agriculture,” he said.
He also said they believe what other countries have achieved through this project will be realised in Lesotho and they will make the programme a success just like other Chinese programmes implemented in the country in areas such as public health, infrastructure, education and culture.
One of the farmers, Mr. Motlomelo who produces JUNCAO grass said it is easy to grow and does not have to be replanted.
He added that it is drought resistant, but has to be watered the first 10 days after planting.
He also said it prevents soil erosion.
In Lesotho, the China-aid JUNCAO Technology Cooperation Project started in 2007. Lena