History

The Machobane Agricultural Development Foundation was founded on February 21st 1992 and became operational in 1997 to promote the farming and educational innovations developed in Lesotho, Africa by Dr. James J. Machobane. 

Drive out hunger.

The Story

In the 1940s when Dr. Machobane was already a well – known author of the first historical novels written in Sesotho, he returned to his home village in Leribe district to begin 13 years of agricultural experimentation and research. His goal was to “drive out hunger” from his country.

Among the many agricultural practices he developed during this time were the intercropping of traditional maize fields with potatoes and other vegetables, an intensive rotational system that produced food crops and field cover throughout the year, and the concentration of locally available manure and ash in planting beds rather than scattering them across the entire field.

Among the many agricultural practices he developed during this time were the intercropping of traditional maize fields with potatoes and other vegetables, an intensive rotational system that produced food crops and field cover throughout the year, and the concentration of locally available manure and ash in planting beds rather than scattering them across the entire field.

 

To help spread these innovations throughout the country, Dr. Machobane required each of the village farmers he trained to in turn train twenty others. This educational approach evolved into the Mantša Tlala (Drive Out Hunger) College with a curriculum designed to improve all aspects of village life.

In 1959 Dr. Machobane’s successes with this comprehensive approach to village education came to the attention of the Ford Foundation and resulted in his recognition as Volunteer of the Year 1961 for the Continent of Africa and a sponsored speaking tour in the United States.

During the years leading to Lesotho’s independence in 1966, the international recognition of Dr. Machobane’s work began to be perceived as a threat to the country’s new political leadership- the college was closed, and he was forced to give up publicly promoting his ideas. For almost 25 years he lived “underground”, able to express himself only by authoring unpublished manuscripts on topics ranging from agriculture to history and poetry to football.

After a coup in 1986 Dr. Machobane was able to “arise from the grave”. In field trials supervised by the Lesotho Ministry of Agriculture the productivity of his low input rotational system compared very favorably with the petrochemical dependent “green revolution” practices then being promoted in the country, and Dr. Machobane was encouraged at the age of 76 to reintroduce his farming system in the country. A training team was assembled that travelled with him from village to village for hands-on demonstrations of good agricultural practices, with a special emphasis on the training women and children. In a matter of just a few years, over 2500 village farmers were following his system. Organic Gardening magazine described this phenomenon as one of the most successful organic agricultural initiatives in the world.

When Dr JJ Machobane initiated the Machobane Farming System he made sure among other things that the System would tolerate and withstand the vagaries of Lesotho weather. To this day, the Machobane Agricultural Development Foundation that he founded continues Dr. Machobane’s work to increase food security and improve the quality of life in the villages of Lesotho whatever the conditions.

 

 

The world will only be at peace if everyone puts their hands into the soil so that everyone has food and water on their table out of their own sweat and initiative.” 

Dr. JJ Machobane

The Story of JJ Machobane of Lesotho

Contacts

For any inquiries please email

info@machobane.com