Mpatheni, Swaziland, Thursday, 14 July 2016: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has handed over a Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) pilot project implemented at a cost of USD 385,519.00 to the Government of Swaziland.
The handover ceremony was conducted at the Mpatheni small holder farm which is one of the project sites. The others are Nkungwini and Nhletjeni. COMESA Secretary General, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya officially handed-over the project to the government represented by the Minister for Agriculture Hon Moses Vilakati.
Under the project, COMESA supported the small holder farmers with irrigation infrastructure, technical capacity building and inputs. The project was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Marketing Board (NamBoard).
In his remarks, the Secretary General said the CSA project was aimed at encouraging the adaptation and resilience mechanisms towards adverse impacts of climate change especially on food security and incomes among smallholder farmers.
â€œCSA practices propose the transformation of agricultural policies and systems to increase food productivity and enhance food security while preserving the environment and ensuring resilience to a changing climateâ€, Mr Ngwenya said. â€œâ€œWe expect this project to improve the quality of life of more than 700 household directly and indirectly through the sale and consumption of high value crops.â€
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Vilakati thanked COMESA for the support adding that the pilots will form the basis of the agriculture adaptation interventions to be rolled to other farmers in the country.
â€œAgriculture is the backbone of our economy, and it is the vehicle that will transport rural areas into vibrant economic hubs,â€ the Minister said. â€œWe appreciate and continue to request your support for the success of this and similar projects. I am highly optimistic that the life of farmers will change significantly, so will the local economy and the contribution of agriculture to the GDP.
The ceremony was witnessed by the beneficiary farmers, government officials from ministries of Agriculture, Trade and other as well as community leadership from the three CSA pilot areas.
Climate Smart Agriculture is farming that sustainably increases productivity, crop resilience and reduction in greenhouse gases thereby enhancing the achievement of national food security and development goals. Besides, it promotes agricultural best practices, particularly integrated crop management, conservation agriculture, intercropping, improved seeds and fertilizer management practices, as well as supporting increased investment in agricultural research.
Climate smart agriculture pilots have been directly implemented in six member States including (Lesotho, Madagascar, Uganda, Swaziland, Seychelles and Zimbabwe). Crop yields at the project sites are expected to rise from less than 1 tonne per hectare for maize to 4 tonnes per hectare thus positively impacting the livelihoods of the rural smallholder farmers.
Eight member States (Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, DR Congo, Kenya, Sudan, Swaziland and Zimbabwe) have been supported to mainstream climate change in their national policies.
The CSA programme is supported by the European Union, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.