Manzini: The National Agricultural Marketing Board has initiated consultative meetings for small scale farmers across the Kingdom with the aim of improving stakeholder relations and advancing the strategic outcomes of all scheduled products.
There will be eight such meetings and each region will be host to two. The first meeting has already been hosted at Sdemane Farm for farmers in the Hhohho South region. More than 100 farmers participated in the meeting, where NAMBoard made ppresentations on farmer payments, market demands (domestic and export), quality standards, rejection procedures, collections and nursery processes.
Farmers who were part of the engagement, presented their challenges, while also proposing solutions. The farmers said that due to covid, they had disintegrated, as each farmer has been forced to focus on their personal survival with less peer-to-peer interactions. Farmers proposed that NAMBoard continues to champion gatherings that will bring them together to share information that addresses the various challenges they face. They also proposed that NAMBoard issues financial statements and make sure to process payments on set dates every month in order to increase efficiency.
NAMBoard Communications Officer, Melusi Dlamini said it was through stakeholder engagements that solutions to existing local challenges could be provided for and opportunities identified for the benefit of the sector. “It has become apparent that stakeholder engagement is critical towards imparting the understanding of our mandate; what NAMBoard can realistically deliver and to dispel perceptions. Our strategic plan has affirmed the need to engage and communicate with our stakeholders to ensure the successful achievement of food security in Eswatini within the next five years. We acknowledge challenges encountered amidst the exponential growth in fresh produce production in the country. Farmer aggregation still remains a challenge in the vegetable production sector as a number of farmers are producing but lack proper access to markets. In this regard, we encourage farmers to make use of NOLWATI (Agricultural Marketing Information System).’’
Namboard’s second stakeholder engagement exercise will take place in the Lubombo district shortly.