By Mantoe Phakathi
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Jabulani Mabuza, handed over a water-saving irrigation system, nurseries, and cold chain facilities to two of Eswatini’s rural irrigation schemes. This follows the successful implementation of the Climate Smart Market Led Agriculture (CSMA) Project at Mavulandlela Irrigation Scheme in the Hhohho Region and Intamakuphila Irrigation Scheme in the Manzini Region.
The three-year project, which was funded through a partnership between the European Union and COMESA, coordinated by UNDP, and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through NAMBoard, saw the improvement of livelihoods for over 500 households in the communities.
On 30 September, Hon. Mabuza commissioned the 16-hectare water-saving drip irrigation system, a vegetable nursery that has a capacity of raising 64 000 seedlings per cycle, a rehabilitated farm office, and a packhouse at Intamakuphila.
“May I advise farmers who benefitted from this project to take care of the infrastructure which is aimed at improving their livelihoods and contribute to food security in the country,” he said.
At the same event, Hon. Mabuza handed over a vegetable nursery of a similar capacity to Mavulandlela, a rehabilitated cold chain facility, and water-pumping system. He acknowledged though that, because of limited resources, Mavulandlela did not receive a water-saving drip irrigation system. He however said the scheme benefitted from another initiative funded by the European Union known as Water Harvesting and Development Project which has already started supporting it with water-saving techniques.
Hon Mabuza further handed over farming implements for conservation agriculture to the Ngwephisi and Nfonjeni Rural Development Areas (RDAs), consisting of a mower, planter, ripper, and a boom sprayer per RDA.
“These implements have been made available to over 1 500 farmers within the radius of the two RDAs,” said Hon. Mabuza. The two farming schemes are under these RDAs.
He also acknowledged that through this project farmers have been able to access farming inputs worth E1.1 million from a revolving fund which has enabled them to produce 462 metric tons of fresh produce worth E1.3 million.
“Farmers have also been linked to five sustainable markets both locally and internationally through NAMBoard,” he said.
Hon. Mabuza pledged the Ministry and NAMBoard’s support to continue scouting for funds to ensure all envisaged activities at project inception are implemented.
Speaking at the same event, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Shaima Hussein, expressed gratitude for the partnership between the UN Agency with the EU, COMESA, the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, and NAMBoard. Ms. Hussein, who was representing the Resident Representative, Ms. Rose Ssebatindira, said this project helped tackle climate change, reduce poverty and hunger and improve good health.
“In his message to World Leaders at the Official Opening of the Food Systems Summit 2021, the UN Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, called on member states to adopt food systems that; support the health and well-being of all people; protect our planet, and can support prosperity,” she said.
She applauded the Minister and his entire team for the successful completion of the project which, she said will ensure the supply of safe and quality vegetables to the market.
“The conservation agriculture equipment will reduce the amount of labour, particularly for women, while the established Revolving Fund will ease access to affordable financing for production,” said Ms. Hussein.
While acknowledging the support provided by the project, Intamakuphila chairperson, Mr. Paul Zishwili, appealed for more funding to fully equip the packhouse with a cold room and a cold chain car. Mavulandlela has a cold room but it could not be installed at Intamakuphila because of limited resources. Both schemes rely on NAMBoard to transport their produce to the market.