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E44M COMMERCIAL MAIZE PROJECT FUND LAUNCHED

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Manzini – The government has tasked ESWADE and NMC to produce over 30 000 metric tonnes of grain maize through the commercial maize project.

ESWADE is the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise, and NMC is the National Maize Corporation. This launch took place yesterday at The George Hotel in Manzini, millers, maize growers and different associations were present at the event. This means that commercial maize farmers, millers, and businesses that want to trade maize can now approach NMC and request assistance in terms of funding and market accessibility. This project has the mammoth task of assisting the country to attain its food and nutrition security through the production of 30 000 metric tonnes of grain maize on an annual basis.

Amalgamation

This task is to be achieved through the amalgamation of farmers under Eswatini Nation Land (ENL) and commercial maize production on the government farms. For the project to be a success, the government has allocated E44 million, entrusting ESWADE with the facilitation of maize production in the country through the commercial maize project and a partnership with NMC. It means farmers and commercial maize producers have been afforded an opportunity to supply the government with maize, and in turn, the government would assist them through loans and further avail a market for them. NMC is the market that has been availed for the farmers through the commercial maize project, and they have assured that their buying prices have been revised.

Through the commercial maize project, a revolving fund was recreated in 2022 to assist maize farmers with the ever escalating cost of farming inputs, among other things. The total value of inputs disbursed to date is over E5 081 337.34, which supported farmers towards the production of 5 000 metric tonnes. ESWADE’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sam Sithole, exclusively told the business desk the government has demonstrated prioritisation of food security in the country by means of availing some of its farms, including Buseleni and Ngwempisi, for the purpose of maize production.

Supported

The CEO said through the National Grains Farmers Association and the Regional Grains Association in the Shiselweni, Hhohho, Manzini, and Lubombo regions, a total of 17 farmers (Shiselweni (8), Hhohho (5), Manzini (3), and Lubombo (1)) were supported through the maize input support revolving fund. “The total value of inputs and area under production were E83 074 and 172.5 ha, respectively.  Farmers were able to repay the sum of E766 313.30 of the total amount loaned, giving a 91.3 per cent success rate for the revolving fund.  Only two farmers were recorded to have been unable to repay their loans from Manzini and Hhohho regions, respectively,” he added. Sithole mentioned that the total contribution of the ENL farmers and the government farms was 778.14 metric tonnes. From these figures, he said it was clear that the farmers have the experience, commitment and zeal to assist the country in reaching its food and nutrition security ata the earliest possible time. NMC assured that the market for maize would always be available in the country, and farmers should upscale production to meet the target. NMC CEO Mavela Vilane added that prior to this establishment, there was no fund targeting the commercialisation of maize.

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