23 July 2008 The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is helping poor farmers to boost their agricultural production in Swaziland, one of many countries suffering as a result of the global food crisis.
Further exacerbating the current situation in Swaziland is last year’s drought, the worst the Southern African nation has faced in 15 years, ruining harvests and inputs for this year’s crop.
To assist farmers, FAO and the Government have established Input Trade Fairs to supply much-needed supplies.
These fairs – funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) – give planters cash vouchers to allow them to select the seeds, fertilizers, tools and other items they need. The events also are an opportunity for local seed producers and local agricultural retail businesses to sell their wares.
More than two dozen of these fairs were held in Swaziland’s centre and east late last year, shortly before the start of the planting seasons, reaching some 20,000 families.
Reflecting on the impact of the initiative, John Weatherson, FAO Emergency Coordinator for the country, said that “the inputs where there at the right time, there was no cost to the farmers, so they felt really on the crest of a wave.”
He stressed the importance of hold more of these trade fairs in a bid to address soaring food prices in line with the FAO’s Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP), which offers technical and policy assistance to help vulnerable farmers increase local food production.
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