- UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is providing assistance to Swaziland farmers to boost agricultural production for enhanced food security for next cropping season.
Swaziland like many other Africa countries has been hit by escalating global food and fuel prices, compounded with poor harvest due to worst drought which started last year, last recorded in 15 years.
FAO and Swazi government have established Input Trade Fairs to supply much-needed supplies to support farmers for mass production. Trade fairs also give opportunity for local seed producers and local agricultural retail businesses to sell their wares.
Fairs sourced from UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) channeled through FAO, gave farmers cash vouchers for seeds, fertilisers, tools and other agricultural inputs.
Government has held more than two dozen fairs in Swaziland's centre and east late last year, shortly before the start of the planting seasons, reaching over 20,000 families.
FAO Emergency coordinator, Mr John Weatherson, reflecting on impact of the fairs, said he was impressed with timely delivery of inputs saying there was no cost to poor farmers who are battling to make ends meet.
Mr Weatherson suggested that more of trade fairs must be held to address soaring food prices in the country in line with FAO's initiative on soaring food prices (ISFP) that offers technical and policy support assistance to help vulnerable farmers increase local food production.
Swazi's National Disaster Management Authority chairman, Mr Ben Nsibandze has blamed poor harvest to severe drought as a result of global climatic changes, which has left farmers uncertain on the kind of cropping season they should expect.
Last year's drought led tiny Swazi kingdom to lowest harvest on record, which forced national disaster organisation to mobilise assistance for more than 400 000 people in need of among others, food, water, sanitation and health services.
Drought also posed a threat to immediate future of thousand small farmers, with their harvest ruined; they faced the prospects of going into planting season empty-handed with no seeds and money for agricultural inputs.
In the last 1990s trade fairs have become a preferred FAO method to stimulate food production.
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