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Maseru, April 03 — Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) Project is to diversify the economy and create jobs through Commercial Horticulture.

This, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism Mr. Mokhethi Shelile  said when addressing the participants at the launch of the Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) Project.

He pointed out that CAFI successfully facilitated establishment of three pilot commercial deciduous fruit farms, which demonstrate that Lesotho has comparative advantage in term of quality of produce and earliness to the market.

He noted that their administration is committed to finding lasting solutions to the country’s developmental challenges, stating that these include poverty, crime, unemployment, diseases, corruption and other social ills.

Mr. Shelile indicated that CAFI project was deliberately designed to operationalise National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II, noting that NSDP II prioritised agriculture, tourism and creative industries, manufacturing and technology and innovation as four priority

He revealed that CAFI project will support the expansion of commercial fruit farms in Mahobong and Likhetlane so as to facilitate establishment of a fully-fledged fruit industry in Lesotho in collaboration with key partners.

He said the government through CAFI project will be investing substantial financial resources towards development of Lesotho’s entrepreneurship ecosystem over the next six years through establishment of a state-of-the-art Entrepreneurship Hub and Seed
Financing Facility.

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr.. Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane said CAFI fully aligned with enhanced NSDP II, and is also consistent with the mandate of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism.

Dr. Matlanyane indicated that it is time to find ways to de-risk businesses in Lesotho, adding that banks should engage in a research in order for them to understand their clients from different sectors including business people as well as farmers more.

She further noted that Basotho should be sensitised about the importance of insuring their businesses among other things, as at the moment the nation mostly focuses on having funeral covers.

Dr. Matlanyane  highlighted that CAFI project has more potential to improve business in Lesotho if it is successfully implemented. He further said world is going through global recession with factories closing, adding that they need to find out where else to diversify in order to create employment.

She said the CAFI project featured prominently in the 2023/24 budget because it will assist in youth capacity by providing grants to small businesses. She further pointed out that she is to request the Cabinet to put M1 million aside in order to assist in financing start-ups.

The National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor Professor Sola Fajana said the role of the NUL in this project include making researchers available to complement the technical advice of the World Bank experts on this project working in collaboration with
Stellenbosch University.

He added that Memorandum of Understanding will be signed to formalise their relationship, adding that they will also be participating in the capacity building and outreach for beneficiaries of the horticulture incubation project. He highlighted that NUL will be serving as member of the Board and providing space through a leasehold agreement of the
NUL infrastructural facilities at Mahobong.

He added that to ensure success of this agreement and venture to establish and manage a centre of excellence in pomology including the practical aspects of commercialization, they have entered into a memorandum of understanding with Stellenbosch University in the
Western Cape to leverage both their experience in the science and commercial aspects of fruit production.

Lesotho Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion (CAFI) Project is an initiative within the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism with the financial support of the World Bank.

The main objective of the project is to increase access to business support services and financial products targeted at MSMEs and entrepreneurs, especially women and youth.


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