The Swaziland Story: Celebrating a successful maize crop
08 April 2011, FANRPAN
It was one of those near perfect days when approximately 100 government officials, farmers, community members, students at the college, FANRPAN staff members and Swaziland node representatives gathered at the African Christian College in Tubungu Estate, Matsapa. The event was hosted by the Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture: Seed Quality Control Services.
FANRPAN has leveraged a partnership agreement with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to ensure that Swaziland is a beneficiary of this innovative project which is bound to have an impact on the people of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
- Three HaSSP seed producing communities have been established where two maize varieties are produced: Shewula, Siphofaneni and Tubungu
- The SADC protocol on variety release and registration requires that candidate varieties are evaluated based on "value for cultivation and use" (VCU) as well as on the requirement for varieties to be "distinct, uniform and stable" (DUS). A HaSSP training workshop on VCU and DUS testing was conducted from the 3rd to the 4th March 2011 at Malkerns Research Station. A total of 16 research, extension and seed company personnel attended the training workshop which was conducted in collaboration with CIMMYT.
- HaSSP Consultants conducted an audit of the seed certification institute (Seed Quality Control Services) in Swaziland during the period 24th to 26th of February 2011. The objective of the audit was to enable FANRPAN to identify human capacity/knowledge gaps and training needs in Swaziland.
- HaSSP conducted a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Training workshop in Manzini from the 1st to the 2nd of December 2010 in Manzini to sensitize the 16 participants on M&E concepts as well as to develop an M&E framework for the project in Swaziland.
- FANRPAN was subcontracted by AFSTA to conduct baseline studies under Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA’s) COMRAP project in each of the four pilot countries. The study was commissioned in Swaziland on the 7th of September 2010. Submitted reports detail current requirements for variety release and registration; standards for seed certification; phytosanitary measures; plant variety protection; seed import/export documentation and procedures; as well as membership to international organizations.
- Swaziland node (CANGO) and FANRPAN organized a HaSSP workshop attended by 33 stakeholders in seed production, distribution and use to develop a plan for Swaziland to harmonize its policies, legislation and systems with SADCprotocols on seed. The workshop which was held from the 28th to the 30th of July 2010 in Manzini was officially opened by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr Clement Dlamini.
- The national work plan developed by stakeholders in Manzini was reviewed in Pretoria during a HaSSP Regional Planning and Budget Meeting conducted in Pretoria from the 10th to the 11th of August 2010 where a regional action plan was developed.
- HaSSP seed elders were nominated at the HaSSP inception workshop held at Kopanong, Johannesburg South Africa in May, 2010. The two HaSSP seed elders in Swaziland are Mr Obed Dhlamini, former Prime Minister of Swaziland and advisor to His Majesty King Mswati III and Mrs Thabile Gooday a progressive farmer who won the Woman Farmer of the Year 2008 Award.
The field day was intended to showcase:
- Importance of HaSSP to the farming community of Swaziland, especially in seed production
- Good management practices of the seed crop
- Advertising the seed crop, especially to seed companies who are interested in purchasing the seed
- Appreciation of the funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation
The day commenced with a field visit to the maize crop that was a direct result of the Harmonised Seed Security Project (HaSSP) - a pilot project in four SADC member states to provide enabling support to domesticate the regional seed protocol; harmonize seed policies and legislation; and implement the provisions of the protocol with enhanced national capacities. The four pilot countries are: Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The maize crop was planted in December 2010 and yielded a substantial harvest.
The speakers ranged from the FANRPAN representative and custodian of the HaSSP project, Dr Bellah Mpofu, Mr Sydney Mhango who drove the project at the African Christian College as well as a guest speaker. The guest speaker was Mr George Ndlangamandla, Director of Agriculture at the Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. All speakers expressed a deep appreciation to the funders as well as FANRPAN and SDC who made the project possible. The impact of the project was clearly discernable and direct beneficiaries (farmers and community members) were clearly appreciative of the efforts of all stakeholders who made the project possible. Dr Mpofu and the other speakers also praised the efforts of the farmers who ensured the success of the project.
It was appropriate that entertainment ended the event on a celebratory note before meals were served.