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SUGAR LOSING ITS SWEETNESS?

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Sir,

I have been pondering over what we could do as a nation in order to achieve self-sufficiency in food, or food security as they now call it. This was not the first time I gave this subject some serious thought, I have done it before while considering my options for earning a living in terms of enterprise farming. After 50 years of gaining independence we are still depending on other nations for food. While I don’t believe that independence guarantees self-sufficiency in matters of the economy, food being one of these; it does seem, however, that we have not made much progress in this regard. The staple food, maize, is still in short supply and continues to be imported. In order to revitalise the economy we need to engage in serious import substitution.

The trouble is, we want to put all irrigated land under sugar cane, the liSwati gold; that most farmers have now come to the realisation that it is no longer as sweet as it used to be in terms of income and rewards. While it is fair to say sugar cane farming is not a bad thing after all, there is now another school of thought that says sugar cane farming may no longer be liSwati gold, at least for smallholder farmers. As we grapple with the food security issue, hard questions need to be asked in terms of what can be the yield in a hectare of land under maize compared to that same land under sugar cane production for instance. Import substitution, and to some extent export, in the area of food production could stimulate employment in the economy in a big way.

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