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OPEN LETTER TO THE MINISTRY OF AGRIC

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For years while one was still at school in both primary and high school we learned that agriculture is the pillar of the economy of Swaziland.

The evidence was there at a layman’s point of view because companies were there producing products for export and providing employment. When one went to tertiary government introduced the prioritising of programmes offered by the universities and agricultural programmes were among those given the priority. One then wonders that not even 10 years after agriculture was branded a priority, more than half of the agriculture graduates are misplaced either at teaching in schools or at home. The Ministry of Education has been a foster parent for the hundreds of agriculture graduates by providing contractual employment. Some graduates have been employed under such circumstances for 13 years and counting while the Ministry of Agriculture is there.

The million Dollar question goes to the Ministry of Agriculture because government has trained these graduates to assist but not limited to providing food security for the country. Does this mean the ministry is doing exceptionally well and it does not need such graduates? Are we food secured as a country and we are not importing any agricultural product that can be produced locally? Maybe it is even at my layman understanding that the University of Swaziland is at the disposal of government and the Luyengo Campus was the first to offer PhD programmes. With such an asset at the disposal of the ministry, how many researches have been conducted in collaboration with the university and implemented. We know about the Malkerns Research centre but students conduct research every year and are supervised by the best in the country. For the students who just finished school and want to choose career programmes, can the ministry boldly advise them to go and do agriculture?

Where will they end up with their agriculture if as we speak more than 300 graduates are either at home or misplaced. Does the ministry have the data for all graduates from Luyengo? Surely they don’t. I have asked too many questions but no need for answers as yet because these graduates will pay a visit to the ministry to formally ask these questions. No matter how small the number we will have but we will be asking the questions not just for the other graduates or those awaiting to graduate but these are questions that need to be answered for the nation at large. As we look forward to a First World status, we cannot afford to have a Ministry of Agriculture going about dealing with serious issues at an alarmingly snail’s pace.

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