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… FARMING INPUTS COSTS HINDERING GROWTH

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Manzini – The escalating cost of farming inputs is one of the biggest challenges faced by commercial maize farmers locally.

This has contributed to the downward trend in maize production performance for the past three years. At least 22 per cent of Eswatini’s population is projected to be living in a food shortage crisis. This is according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Food Insecurity Analysis for June 2022 to March, 2023.

Shortage

Mavela Sigwane, Head of Business Transformation at the Federation of Eswatini Business Community (FESBC), said the shortage of maize in the country was embarrassing because maize was the country’s stable food. He said the country had enough irrigated farms, which guaranteed that every year farmers were supposed to grow sugar cane. He said while they were still in that period, farmers could start ploughing maize that would be harvested after three months.

Stable

Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza said, evidently, that maize was a stable crop that provided food and income for millions. However, it was often plagued by challenges like pests and diseases, climate change, and limited access to quality inputs and resources. “It is on this premise that I am pleased to be a part of the launch of the Commercial Maize Project, a new project in the country that is aimed at commercialising maize production in Eswatini and, by extension, will circumvent some of the above cited challenges,” mentioned that minister.
Mabuza said His Majesty’s Correctional Services have committed 114ha towards commercial maize production on their Bhalekane Farm. Considering the national demand for maize, more production land will be committed to this project.

The BE CEO, Nathi Dlamini, added that BE recently had a one-on-one with the new management team of NMC specifically in an endeavour to establish how they plan to overcome the challenges before them. “To make a long story short, we were inspired beyond measure when we left the meeting as their dedication to a turnaround was unmistakable,” mentioned Dlamini.

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