From Degraded Land To Abundance: Bethel Business And Community Development Centre, Lesotho

Outside the small village of Bethel, in the remote mountains of Lesotho, southern Africa, is a remarkable community. Surrounded by degraded land, characterised by heavily eroded washouts, is a verdant forest of food.

Tiny and landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is a mountainous country where most people rely on subsistence agriculture, and around fifty-seven per cent live below the poverty line of US$1.25 per day (World Bank 2010 data).

In the past, Lesotho produced enough wheat and corn to feed its people and export grain. However, soil erosion, land degradation and a decline in soil fertility, combined with a HIV/AIDS epidemic, contributed to a steady decline in production. And agriculture is also vulnerable to climate variability.