In the northeastern part of Lesotho lies a beautiful mountainous district called Mokhotlong. This is one of the 10 districts of Lesotho, a tiny but rich with eye-catchy site viewing landlocked country within South Africa. Just outside the town of Mokhotlong was once an abandoned piece of land which was the waste dumping area of the district.
Liphamola Dairy Farmers Association (LDFA) saw this piece of a land which belongs to Ministry of Agriculture as treasure and asked for permission to use it for dairy farming. It was not an easy journey and it didn’t make sense how a dump site could be turned into a dairy farm. Nonetheless the Ministry sub-leased the site to LDFA. Negotiations with the Office of the District Administrator and the Town Klerk then started in earnest to relocate the dump site to make way for the rehabilitation process and turning the dump site into a land of milk and honey. Eventually, through the determination and drive of eleven founding members, their dream came true as they were granted permission to carry on with this life changing initiative. Operations started in 2011, with only 5 cows bought with members’ contributions. Along their journey, they got to know about the UNDP Global Environment Facility the Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), and sought assistance for establishing a grazing paddock system for the rehabilitation and sustainable rangeland management of about 15 hectares of land and fodder production for the dairy cows; and for the relocation and rehabilitation of the dumpsite and turning it into grazing paddocks and an orchard with more than 800 fruit trees. Through the GEF SGP partnership, a small holding kraal and milking parlor was installed. The LDFA is testimony to the fact that the GEF SGP acts as an incubator of projects that can turn into big multi-million Maloti ventures that not only sustain livelihoods but that also safeguard the environment for posterity.
From SGP the LDFA now empowered and equipped with project and contract management skills, they attracted the attention of Letšeng Diamonds which took the dairy farm to even higher heights turning it into a fully equipped and mechanized multimillion Maloti venture. The dairy farm now produces approximately 160 to 200 liters a day and is able to sell to the community of Mokhotlong with the bulk of the milk supplied to local mines. To maintain this production “we need to stick to the established feeding regimen for the cows; we cannot just take them anywhere for grazing”.
The revamped Liphamola Dairy Farm was officially handed over to the LDFA by Letšeng Diamonds as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and Initiative (CSRI) programme, on 21 February, 2018.
Speaking at the project handover ceremony, Glenn Turner of Letšeng Diamonds pointed out that the support the mine extended to the Association is a clear indication that it cares about the community of Mokhotlong as entrenched in its slogan ‘We Mine, We Care, We Contribute’.
Letšeng Diamonds provided a building structure with milking parlour, milking processing room and offices.
The association members have now increased to 34 with 40 cows. The Project Manager of LDFA, Ms Liepollo Letooane, said they have two breeds of cattle, brown Swiss and black diamond. She added that they opted for those breeds because they can withstand extreme weather conditions in Mokhotlong and produce the best milk.
The Chairperson of LDFA, Mr. Thabo Moleko pointed out that new opportunities are now opening up including among others, bee-keeping and production of organic honey, organic eggs, chicken and ducks. He went on to explain that negotiations are already ongoing with local supermarkets to widen markets for their farm produce.