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Farmers’ union to increase production

Business Section

By FAITH SHONGWE - SWAZI TIMES-16-Sep-2009

MBABANE – With the ploughing season just around the corner, the Swaziland National Agricultural Union is making every effort to ensure increased food production this season.

President of the Swaziland National Agricultural Union Jabulani Tsabedze said as a first step towards achieving this goal, the farmer’s union was currently working towards an arrangement where the farmers under the association will purchase farm inputs in bulk from suppliers.

Farm inputs include fertilisers and pesticides among other products, Farm input prices have increased over the past few years and this has created what some farmers describe as a cost-price squeeze.

Loans

This, coupled with the unpredictability of market prices, has led to many smallholder farmers unable to service their loans with financiers. This ultimately has negatively affected smallholder farmer’s profiles with financiers, leading to their inability to access finance in some cases.

“We are in the process of negotiating for an arrangement with some of the local suppliers where farmers will be able to purchase farm inputs, such as fertiliser and seeds in bulk. This will certainly help the farmers because it will mean that they will get the farm inputs at cheaper rates,” Tsabedze explained. He said the current price for fertiliser, in particular a 50 kilogram of 2:3:2 22 fertiliser ranges between E200 and E220.

“Although this price is still considered to be high, it is far lower than what farmers had to pay for, a few years ago when farmers had to pay up to E400 for a 50 kilogram bag of fertiliser,” he added. He went on to say that the arrangement had not yet been finalised, but farmers should register at their nearest regional offices in order to benefit when the arrangement falls through.

“Farmers need to register and let the officers at the regional offices know the type of seeds and fertiliser they need. Farmers will find that by the time they register, the prices for the items will already be available and they will know how much they need to pay for the items,” he said.

He further said, as a union they were concerned about food production in the country, adding that this was one of the main reasons why they wanted to ensure that every farmer benefits from this arrangement so that food production can be increased.


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