As South Africa pushes ahead with its transformation agenda, food security being one of the pillars in this regard, it became clear that for success to be achieved regional integration could not be overlooked.
Not only would this lead to a humanitarian crisis and an influx of economic and other refugees into the regional powerhouse, but also South Africa has significant trade links with its neighbours.
In fact, the youngest democratic state in the region is seen as the pace setter and it influences trends, the economies and the cultural spaces in these countries. The populations in these countries are avid consumers of the Mzansi culture, its products and urban culture.
It therefore came as no surprise when an investment organisation in Swaziland engaged a group of highly qualified farmers from the Mpumalanga to assist in transforming agriculture in the country with the view to attain food self-sufficiency.
South Africa is known all over the continent for its high standards of agriculture practice and it currently is Africa’s food basket. The world also imports large quantities of agriculture products from South Africa.
Swaziland on the other hand imports up to 60 000 tonnes of maize, mainly from South Africa, per annum and the situation does not look to change, unless something drastic happens towards improving agriculture.
“The sad part is that we cannot even produce our staple crops such as maize, sorghum and beans. Through such co-operations with our partners who are experts in the field of agriculture it is possible for the nation to achieve food self-sufficiency, provided we all have the determination and will power to deliver on this important mandate,” said King Mswati said recently.
To that end, Hansie Crous and his team were engaged by Tibiyo Taka Ngwane to give their expertise to the Swazi people. In the Mpumalanga province, Crous and his team are also engaged in farming of vast tracts of land.
Their specialty is maize production and animal husbandry. Swaziland has over the years struggled to feed its one million inhabitants, importing over 90% of its food requirements from the neighbouring economic giant.
The king said the partnership with the South African farmers brought a glimpse of hope to the nation, insisting that everyone should be committed to turning Swaziland’s fortunes around.
“This is an indication that in spite of the numerous economic challenges currently faced by the country, as the Swazi nation we could turn our situation around with hard work and dedication,” the king said.
Hansie and his team were engaged a year ago (2012) to work on Tibiyo Taka Ngwane’s Dalcrue farm situated in the super fertile Malkerns area, 20 kilometres outside of the capital Mbabane.
South Africa’s Business Report, recently carried an article on this matter, where Tibiyo Taka Ngwane Managing Director Absalom Themba Dlamini said they had ‘upped the gear’ in agriculture production through engagement of expert farmers from South Africa.
“I can confirm that the organisation has engaged farmers from the Republic of South Africa to ensure the best possible yields and the transformation of the agricultural portfolio. The persons engaged have vast experience in farming, especially on crops. We are therefore appreciative of their input,” Dlamini said.
He explained that Swaziland had a choice whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about the challenges confronting it.
The South African farmers have been given a target to ring in the necessary changes and implement strategies that will ensure improved production.
Written by: Musa Ndlangamandla
Musa is a senior journalist from Swaziland and until January 2012 he was Chief Editor of The Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers. He is a former advisor and speech writer to King Mswati III. Musa studied Law and holds a number of certificates from leading schools of Journalism. He has travelled to over 35 countries on assignment. He also writes as a freelancer for various leading publications.