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Mps slam Clement over food security

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LOBAMBA - Members of Parliament (MPs) do not believe that the Minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini has a clear vision to improve food security in the country.

This was during the ministry’s first quarter budget report debate yesterday.

Ngwempisi MP Veli Shongwe was first to register his dissatisfaction about the report.

"I am not happy because this report is short when this ministry is critical in dealing with issues of food security," said Shongwe.

Kubuta MP Charles Myeza asked "How will you conquer food insecurity?

"What plan do you have to support your mission statement?"

Mbabane West MP Johannes Shongwe said, "We know very little about what you do as a ministry and thus cannot even assist you when the need arises."

MP Thuli Dladla said there is a need to change the prevailing trend of not producing enough food.

"When will we get to exporting food instead of exporting money?" she asked.

Dladla said the country needs comprehensive and sustainable programmes to reverse the situation and relieve the country from the burden of depending on food aid.

"The minister needs to plan properly. We have held summits but it is still not clear what his vision is.

"There must be a clear vision because we are not moving forward," she said.

The ministry’s vision reads as follows, "The achievement and maintenance of an efficient and sustainable agricultural sector that will ensure national and household food security and the sustainable growth of Swaziland agriculture and national economy, with equitable wealth distribution throughout the value chain."

She added that concerns raised by farmers could be a good source of database and better understand what their needs are.

The MP said local farmers do not diversify their produce such that they suffer losses as their products are not bought at market places.

She said there are many other areas that could be exploited such as the processing of agricultural products. "Let us be pro-active in order to attain food security," she said.

In response to the MP’s submissions, the minister refuted that he lacks vision.

"We have ascertained that the Middleveld and the Lowveld can produce enough to feed the whole nation but this needs money.

"There is a need to diversify because the market is there," said Dlamini.

Dipping tanks are not enough - MPs

LOBAMBA - Members of Parliament (MPs) have complained that dipping tanks are not enough in order to properly serve communities.

Mbabane West MP Johannes Shongwe wondered what the Minister of Agriculture, Clement Dlamini, was doing to ensure that there are adequate dipping tanks in the country.

"They are far apart, what are you doing to build more?" he asked. Joseph Souza of Lugongolweni said livestock is not meant to walk long distances.

"The process of constructing dipping tanks within a radius of eight kilometres is slow yet cattle are not supposed to travel long distances," he said.

Gege MP Musa Kunene said livestock at Ndinga area have not been dipping for the past three years due to community squabbles. "They are just counted every time they are supposed to be treated. Can the minister help solve this problem?" wondered Kunene. The minister said the public should also partner with government in addressing the shortage instead of watching as this was detrimental to their livestock.

"We will look into the matter but people should not expect everything from government. The communities must also participate," he said.

‘Dipping tank officers neglected by govt’

LOBAMBA- Parliamentarians have complained that dipping tank officers (bomadi-bhane) are neglected by government.

Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday called upon the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the officers’ welfare should also be prioritised because they play an important role in agriculture in the country. Lugongolweni MP Joseph Souza said the officers are looked upon with disdain by the ministry.

"Bomadibhane are looked down upon. What are you doing to upgrade them academically and ensure their safety?" he asked.

Maseyisini MP Mduduzi ‘Small Joe’ Dlamini said the officers in his constituency are also complaining of neglect.

"They claim that they are not paid their money at times or even considered for salary increments. What is the ministry doing to improve their lives?" said Dlamini.

Minister Clement Dlamini acknowledged that the welfare of the officers is not given attention but promised that the ministry will look into the matter.

"Their houses are in a deplorable state and that is why we have accommodated them in temporary structures," he said.

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