It is a sunny afternoon in Berea, a district west of the capital Maseru. Ramokhitlane Matlapaneng, a data collector, is at ‘Me Letuka’s home to collect data of her household including, the names of all the family members, area of residence and the kind of farming they do – livestock rearing or growing crops. He has four more households to cover before he wraps up the day. He and his team each register at least 10 households a day.
The information gathered and recorded electronically will be used to create the first ever Lesotho National Farmer Registry under the project technically and financially supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and food security.
“First of all, the government did not have a database of all the farmers in the country, and without data you cannot make any informed decisions. The new electronic registry will help us to identify who does what and where. For instance, we will know how many farmers are in substance farming, diary, piggery and other agricultural commodity value chains,” said Maoala Khesa, National Project Coordinator from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
The data collection tools being used were developed by government stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The registration of farmers is primarily covering their demographic data, main farming practices, and livestock ownership.
“The initiative is part of the larger project that seeks to establish “The Lesotho Integrated Agriculture Management Information System (LIAMIS)” implemented by the government of Lesotho and FAO. The LIAMIS is envisaged to provide a cost-effective method for farmers to access various agricultural services, while building a database of all farmers in Lesotho for improved planning and targeting of interventions,” said David Mwesigwa, FAO Emergency and Resilience Coordinator in Lesotho.
What is Farmer Registry, and why it is important?
Farmer Registry, is a web-based application that includes verified farm data, ensuring that only eligible farmers can access government subsidies.
The system will have an offline platform which allows extension workers to register beneficiaries and upload the data into the national server once they have access to internet. The system will provide a clear farmer verification and approval procedures, with beneficiary lists accessible at district and national levels.
The platform facilitates Government departments and private sector partners to verify farm-business eligibility for programmes, as well as assist in development of agriculture policy. Additionally, the system assists in rural poverty reduction by warranting those policies are more accurate, cost-effective and transparent.
About 10 000 farmers have been registered in the two districts so far covered, the aim is to roll out the registration to the remaining eight districts.
With the registry, farmers will be classified according to the magnitude of their work – either smallholder, medium or large-scale commercial farmers across the country.
“We have been serving everybody, and we realized that some who get the support are actually not farmers yet the real farmers were not getting our services. Planning and targeting will be proper; support will go directly to the intended farmers and the actual amount of subsidies required will be released,” Maoala continued.
Who’s a farmer
The system will produce GPS coordinates to identify the precise geographic location of the farmer’s homestead and fields based on definition of who is a farmer.
To be recognized as a farmer for registration, the household should have either livestock, or land (rented, borrowed or hired), or both, exploited for income generation or for home consumption, or for both purposes.
Linking other systems
When completed, the system will support important components like agricultural mechanization, routine food security monitoring, E-voucher system, E-extension services and generation of real time reporting.
This will allow the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to share information with farmers as well as receive questions related to disease surveillance within communities to enable early warning and better management of pests and disease outbreaks.