The Kingdom of Lesotho recently joined the extension of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable smallholder farmers. SADP II, the second phase of the project, targets young people and women to build the rural economy and sustainable agriculture.
According to IFAD, agriculture represents 17 percent of Lesotho’s GDP and is a major source of income for people in rural areas. But with the current challenges facing climate change and the COVID-19 epidemic, the region is looking to develop the sector.
SADP II will follow SADP I, which has supported 75,000 households in Lesotho, directly and indirectly affecting 17 percent of the total population, Phillip Baumgartner, country director for Lesotho at IFAD, told Food Tank. Lesotho implemented SADP II in September and it will run until May 2026.
SADP II will work directly with youth and women in the region to support agricultural producers through increased access to climate-smart technologies and high-quality inputs. These practices and technologies will result in improved productivity and increased market opportunities throughout the supply chain, says Baumgartner.
The project plans to create sustainable rural employment opportunities, increase income and improve economic and climate resilience. According to world Bank, in 2020, 32.8% of young people in Lesotho, aged 15 to 24, are unemployed.
Without additional investment and targeted support to the agricultural sector, the already high risk of youth unemployment is likely to increase, according to Baumgartner. He believes that youth entrepreneurship and new agricultural practices could “unlock the potential of the sector in terms of job creation and boost productivity while promoting sustainable management of land and resources”.
In addition, the project hopes that at least 50 percent of its beneficiaries will be women, who often have difficulty accessing finance and funding. Earth.
“Giving women access to finance to obtain high-quality inputs and training to improve agronomic practices will not only create opportunities for women to increase production, processing and sales, but will also improve dietary diversity. and nutrition at the household level, ”Baumgartner told Food Tank.
Through the provision of technical assistance and investment support, SADP II seeks to introduce and scale up best practices in climate-smart agriculture and sustainable land management.
“The project will integrate climate and environmental considerations into agriculture,” Baumgartner told Food Tank, “all of which are expected to lead to positive results from increased commercialization, enhanced climate resilience, food security, job creation, improved rural livelihoods and nutrition.
Photo courtesy of Angelo Moleele, Unsplash
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