Ministry of Agriculture.

 COAT OF ARMS

PRESS STATEMENT FOR THE 2020/2021 FARMING SEASON

The Nation will appreciate the good rains that the country has been receiving over the past week. These rains are blowing the trumpet that signals the beginning of the ploughing season. We are grateful to God Almighty for giving us His blessings in the form of rainfall. Beyond allowing us to start ploughing, the rains have brought about a positive change in the vegetation and we are excited at the prospect of what promises to be a good season ahead. Livestock, especially cattle, goats and sheep will be well nourished upon grazing on the nutritious grass that is growing rapidly. Livestock producers are reminded to maintain reasonable stocks and practice rotational grazing to allow recovery of the pastures.

The Ministry of Agriculture is already geared up for the 2020/2021 farming season. Seasonal rainfall forecasts indicate that the country and the Southern Africa region as a whole will receive good rains that are expected to sustain our crops to give us optimum yields.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to strive to be self-sufficient. In essence, we have to consume what we produce. Our key message to farmers is that we encourage them to take advantage of every opportunity that is being presented to them and maximize the utilization of resources at their disposal to engage in agricultural production.

 This is the time for farmers to start serious preparations and get busy in their fields. We are saying “Phezu komkhono!!!”.

Farmers are encouraged to make use of the extension services at their disposal to be able to choose varieties that are suitable for their areas.

 

Input Subsidy and Tractor Hire Services

The Ministry is grateful to His Majesty’s Government for continuing to provide the input subsidy and the tractor hire services which have resulted in significant increases in yields over the past few seasons, especially in the Highveld and Moist Middleveld. In recognition of the shock that has been presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the charges remain unchanged. The National Maize Corporation (NMC), our parastatal that has been given the responsibility to run these interventions, has already made the necessary announcements for farmers to follow in order to benefit from these programmes. I have been assured by NMC that tractors are ready for the ploughing season and farmers can now redeem the tractor hours for which they have paid. Farmers are further implored to make payments in good time and adhere to the deadline, the 31st of October 2020, to avoid missing out on the subsidized inputs.

In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to wish farmers a fruitful ploughing season and remind them that the ministry is always at their service to provide technical advice and services that they may require as they engage in production. Our decentralized RDAs and training centres are ready to assist and farmers are encouraged to use digital platforms like WhatsApp for ease of communication and adherence to the COVID-19 regulations.

I thank you.

 

 

HON. JABULANI C. MABUZA (MP)

MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE

 Land, Climate and Energy

The kingdom of Eswatini remains committed to the five strategic objectives of the United Nations Convention to combat desertification. The country is working towards achieving Land degradation Neutrality by 2030 and address loss of biodiversity through ecosystem restoration and land rehabilitation. The target is to improve food security and restore ecosystem services that will benefit the rural poor.  

Land-based climate change adaptation and mitigation is complimentary to the Global transition towards renewable energy.

Forest, trees and agroforestry systems have an important role to play in both emission reduction and the mitigation of climate change. They play a key role in the necessary adaptation and mitigation processes.

They can also provide bio energy resources for the transition to a cleaner energy system, as emphasized by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There can be no effective climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and policies without involving the potential of forests, trees and agroforestry resources in integrative cross-sectoral approaches.

Bio-energy is part of a coherent approach across Forests, Trees Agroforestry that considers energy, poverty, climate change, and food and nutritional security through diverse production systems involving forest landscapes.  Bio-energy is key to improving the sustainability of the energy sector and achieving the Paris goals.

 

The role of forests and trees in mitigating climate change and capturing and storing carbon in biomass and soil is well recognized. Over the past few decades, a variety of schemes have been designed to leverage this mitigation potential. Today, with climate change impacts already having immediate, dramatic impacts on smallholder farmers, it is time to have a more balanced approach.

That’s why we are calling for a shift of focus from trees and mitigation to trees and adaptation. There is a need to explore what forests, trees and agro-forestry can bring to the adaptation of other sectors, particularly agriculture.

This coincides with a need to change perspectives, from a dominant global perspective centered on carbon, to a local perspective centered on what works for farmers in a particular place. There is growing understanding that tree planting initiatives for mitigation won’t happen unless they benefit farmers locally. Farmers, however, will plant trees if they see how they help their livelihood systems become more resilient to climate change.

Benefits and Role of forests:

  • Forests help stabilize the climate.They regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and can help drive sustainable growth.
  • To maximize the climate benefits of forests, we must keep moreforest landscapes intact, manage them more sustainably, and restore more of those landscapes which we have lost.
  • Halting the loss and degradation of natural systems and promoting their restoration have the potential tocontribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation scientists say is required by 2030. 
  • Restoring 350 million hectaresof degraded land in line with the Bonn Challenge could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.  
  • As the world debates how to operationalize the Paris Agreement, it is imperative that national leaders accelerate these actions. This can be done by subscribing to and implementing the New York Declaration on Forests, sustain forest climate financing, and include forest and land use in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
  • Nature – and in particular, trees and forests – can and must be part of the solution to keeping the climate within the globally accepted two-degree temperature increase limit.

The land plays a vital role in the carbon cycle, both by absorbing greenhouse gases and by releasing them into the atmosphere. This means our land resources are both part of the climate change problem and potentially part of the solution.

Improving how we manage the land could reduce climate change at the same time as it improves agricultural sustainability, supports biodiversity, and increases security. Tools such as integrated land use planning and sustainable land management treat land as a multifunctional asset, they can “provide multiple benefits from the same piece of land at the same time”. This means that such approaches can fulfill the aims of different multilateral environmental agreements at the same time, including the three Rio conventions: UNFCCC (climate), UNCCD (desertification) and UNCBD (biodiversity). According to literature “if we were to restore just 12% of all degraded agricultural land, we would boost smallholder income by USD 35-40 billion a year, feeding 200 million people per year within the next 14 years.

Land is a valuable and finite resource that provides a wide range of goods and services to society. Both the ability of land managers and the capacity of the land to provide goods such as food, bioenergy and clean water become more difficult as the population continues to grow and climate variability increases. This raises questions over how the multiple demands placed on land can be managed both now and into the future. Whilst the importance of land to national economies appears obvious, in recent years numerous policies and planning trajectories, with competing and contradictory implications for land management, have emerged.

Greater policy coherence among the three sectors (water, energy and agriculture) is critical in moving to a sustainable and efficient use of resources. The nexus approach can enhance understanding of the interconnectedness of the sectors and strengthen coordination among them. But it requires a major shift in the decision-making process towards taking a holistic view and developing institutional mechanisms to coordinate the actions of diverse actors and strengthen complementarities and synergies among the three sectors.

Access to energy is a universal issue – and one which impacts both people and nature.

Improving access to clean, reliable and affordable energy will help sustainable development, decent livelihoods and provide basic services for the poor — mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where more than 3 billion people suffer from energy poverty.

To help accelerate the process of achieving a world powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050, it is critical to engage with key governments around the world to encourage them to agree to take steps to end energy poverty by 2030. The essence of this strategy is to demonstrate that there are viable, sustainable energy access solutions for energy-poor people in developing countries – and to encourage these solutions to be replicated and scaled up in different areas.

This can help build a world where countries are committed to focusing on energy access and taking a renewable energy / low carbon path initiatives.

Official Remarks by The Honourable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture,

Event: Official launch of the NaPHIS Portal at The Happy Valley

Date: 10 September 2020

Honourable Minister, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade

Principal Secretary

Partners from industry

CEOs from different Parastatals

Government officials

Media houses

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me begin by thanking you all for honouring this important launch. I am aware that you have a number of other important activities to attend to in your respective offices but you decided to come and be part of this event. This goes to show how you value initiatives by the Ministry of Agriculture in which you are key stakeholders. Today we are here to launch the National Plant Health Inspection Services Portal, a tool that we believe will not only allow our stakeholders to have easy access to information but also access to services that were previously not easily accessible.

Programme director, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you will all recall that during the last Sibaya, the Ministry of Agriculture was identified as one of the sectors that can turn around the economy of the Kingdom of Eswatini. This has been emphasised in the recently presented Post COVID 19 Kingdom of Eswatini Economic Recovery Plan. As a Ministry, one of our roles in turning around the economy is to provide an enabling environment in which the sector can perform to its optimum potential.

Over the years, Eswatini has been producing and exporting to international markets products such as citrus, banana, avocados, baby vegetables and timber, thus earning a considerable amount of foreign income. At the same time the country has imported a number of commodities such as fruits and vegetables to supplement local supply. As these commodities move in and out of the country, Eswatini is expected to comply with international standards that govern the movement of plants and plant products as provided for under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The portal we are launching today is aimed at ensuring ease of doing business among stakeholders who are in the plants and plant products import/export business.

The portal will enable exporters/importers to apply for phytosanitary services online from the comfort of their offices or homes. This will not only cut the hassle of travelling to Malkerns to acquire these services but will also save time and costs of doing business. We believe that this facility has come at an opportune time when the Government is discouraging the movement of people from place to place as one way of curbing the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic.

As we digitalise our system we want to align ourselves with the rest of our partners who are already operating electronically. With this portal we hope to be able to link with Eswatini Revenue Authority’s Asycuda World system and the Single Window system. Honourable Minister, we have been working closely with your team that is developing the Eswatini Trade Information Portal which we are informed will be launched soon. We strongly believe that these two systems will complement each other and provide valuable information and service to our clients. We also believe that this portal will contribute to the Government of Eswatini’s effort to roll out the e-government system including the population registry. At international level, the IPPC secretariat of the Food and Agriculture Organization is promoting the issuance of electronic phytosanitary certificates aimed at phasing out the use of paper-based documents and curbing delays at the points of entry since the electronic certificates are sent directly to the importing country and all points of entry even before the consignment gets there. With this portal in place Eswatini has positioned herself to be in line with these new developments.

The system has been developed with close guidance and monitoring by our Government Computer Services to which we are grateful. They made sure that our system is compatible with the rest of Government systems and adheres to high level of security hence producing documents that will be difficult to counterfeit.

The system will also allow our plant health inspection services to store information on national pests status such as national pest list, list of quarantine pests, regulated non quarantine pests as well as records of plant and plant products imports and exports. Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen allow me to proudly say that with this system and portal, Eswatini has taken a giant leap to the first world way before 2022.

To stakeholders, let me thank you for being patient with us while we were using the old manual system. We are aware of the challenges you encountered as you exported and imported all the regulated products in and out of the country. We hope with the introduction of the digital system our joint operations will be made much easier and faster. We call upon you to make proper use of the portal and maximise on opportunities. Please note that as we migrate from the old manual to the digital system, we are required by international standards both under the IPPC and World Trade Organization to notify our trading partners of the changes and allow them time to adjust. This includes making them aware of the new documents such as new phytosanitary certificates and import permits. It is on this premise that we wish to make you aware that for the next three months after the launch we will be running both systems concurrently while phasing out the manual system. For further information on how this will work out you are more than welcome to contact our office at Malkerns Research Station.

Let me now take this opportunity to thank all our partners who have been with us throughout the journey of developing this portal. Special gratitude goes to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade for their support through the Trade Related Facility project funded by the European Union, the EU for financing the project, Computer Services for their technical support, our consultants for their technical expertise and to all the Ministry of Agriculture staff for their dedication in seeing this project and event thus far, Bravo. I am proud of you. Once again thank you all for coming. I wish you a safe trip back to your respective stations. I urge you, your companies and families to adhere to the COVID 19 guidelines, regular washing of hands, proper wearing of masks and maintaining a safe social distance.

Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen let me now declare the National Plant Health Inspection Services Portal officially launched.

I thank you and God bless us all.

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, HON. JABULANI MABUZA

AT THE SIGNING CEREMONY OF A GRANT FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN

07 AUGUST 2019

PROGRAMME DIRECTOR

 

HON. MINISTER FOR ECONOMIC PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

YOUR EXCELLENCY THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN AND YOUR DELEGATION

PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

It is an honour and a privilege for me to be part of this significant signing ceremony. On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, may I take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to the Government and the people of Japan for this kind gesture that is being extended to the country.

The agriculture sector is at the centre of the national economic recovery initiatives espoused in the Government Strategic Roadmap and requires substantial capital investment to facilitate growth. The equipment to be received through this grant that is being signed here today will go a long way in helping our farming community to realize their goals of improved production and productivity.

Due to various reasons, agriculture has evolved to rely heavily on mechanization. The Government is facing serious shortages of mechanized tillage equipment to provide services to farmers, particularly the smallholders who have limited resources to purchase their own equipment. The smallholder farmers form a majority and on aggregate, hold a larger portion of land. They rely on the tractor hire service that is provided by government. It is in this regard that as we develop our sector, we cannot leave the smallholder farmer behind. The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini supports these farmers because they play an important role in ensuring food security and poverty reduction through small-scale commercial agriculture.

 May I make an undertaking that the tractors that will be received through this grant will be used to serve the needs of the farming community.

This grant has come at an opportune time when the Ministry is spearheading the implementation of a robust strategy that seeks to grow the economy through increased export-oriented production and agro-processing.

This strategy involves all stakeholders in the sector and we are optimistic that the inclusive approach will lead to the successful implementation and attainment of the desired targets.

Programme Director, Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by reiterating our gratitude to the Government and the people of Japan for the assistance. We look forward to a continuous working relationship that will benefit both countries and lead to the development of the citizens. Once again, thank you for your kind and valuable assistance.

Thank you!

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