WHEN you buy fruits from Lesotho’s biggest farms in Mahobong and Likhetlane you can be assured that you are getting internationally certified products.

Likhotola Fruit Farm, Maoa Mafubelu Fruit Farm and Likhetlane Fruit Farm have passed thorough audits for GLOBALGAP Certification, an internationally recognized set of farm standards dedicated to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

That means the apples, plums, apricots and peaches from the farms meet international standards. For consumers and retailers, the GLOBALGAP certification is reassurance that their food has the acceptable levels of safety and quality. It also assures them that the food has been produced sustainably, respecting the health, safety and welfare of workers, the environment, and in consideration of animal welfare issues.

Nthako Supu, the manager of the three farmers, says the current certification has not expired but they have just completed another audit for the next financial year.

“Today we just completed another audit for another GLOBALGAP certification,” says Supu.

Supu was responding to false claims from some quarters that the fruits and farms do not meet international standards.

“Our fruits have been accepted by highly reputable retailers in both Lesotho and South Africa because they meet the international standards,” Supu adds.

“The evidence of this certification is there. We have annual inspections that lead to certification.” The allegations appear to have been triggered by the government’s decision to impose a temporary restriction on the importation of apples to help local farmers move their volumes. 

Governments across the world routinely use such trade measures to assist different sectors remain viable. Without such interventions, some sectors might find it difficult to grow and withstand pressure from imports.

The farms started with financial assistance and expertise from the Private Sector Competitive and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP), a Lesotho government project funded by the World Bank. They are part of the government’s initiatives to alleviate poverty in rural communities by helping them venture into commercial agriculture.

Likhotola Fruit Farm is owned by ten farmers while Maoa Mafubelu Fruit Farm belongs to 17 farmers. Together these farms, next to each other in Mahobong, employ more than 60 people from nearby villages. Likhetlane Fruit Farm has ten shareholders and 32 employees.

Chaba Mokuku, the Project Manager for the PSCEDP, says it is important for people to have the correct facts before making allegations.

“The farms are duly certified and meet the international standards. That means the fruits can be accepted in shops across the globe,” Mokuku said.

He says there is nothing sinister about the temporary ban.

“These are temporary measures that most governments use to help their sectors and protect local jobs”.

“In this case, the restriction is crucial because Lesotho has a good harvest to meet the local demand. We have to help our farmers grow and protect jobs.”

Meanwhile, Supu says demand for red apples has surged in recent days.

The farms have produced 374 tonnes of different apple varieties this year.

Call Supu 59643186 for orders. 

See Links - https://www.psc.org.ls/reports