Eswatini Daily News

By Khulile Thwala

The Ministry of Agriculture recently launched a E53 million fund named the Eswatini Agriculture Development Fund.

The Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza launched the E53 million Eswatini Agriculture Development Fund with Eswatini Bank to address critical financing gaps in the agricultural sector and create an enabling environment for farmers, agribusinesses and other players to thrive.

The fund will prioritise capacity-building initiatives as well as investments in agricultural infrastructure. Its operationalisation, however, will start once the Ministry of Agriculture finalises the modalities for accessing the fund. This will be announced to the public in due course.

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“The priorities of the fund will be informed by the National Agricultural Investment Plan which itself will be prioritising investments entailed in the commodity Sector Development Plans Agreement (SDPAs),” said Minister Mabuza.

He said it was well known that agriculture is the backbone of the nation, hence the need for such a fund.

“It has been the mainstay of our economy, providing food security, livelihoods for the majority of our people and contributing significantly to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said Mabuza.

He further said they recognised that the sector faced several challenges that hinder its full potential.

“These challenges include limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure, climate change, and outdated farming practices,” stated Mabuza.

He said that it was considering these challenges that the fund had been established.

“The vision of the fund is to facilitate strong linkages in the agriculture and food industry ecosystem by spearheading and supporting the deployment of both financial and policy instruments,” said the minister.

Mabuza said one of the primary objectives of the fund is to partner with financial institutions to enable them to provide affordable and suitable support to farmers and agribusinesses.

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“We understand that access to finance is a major hurdle for many  in the agricultural sector.”

Therefore, the fund will facilitate affordable loans, and other financial instruments to help farmers invest in modern technologies, acquire quality inputs, invest in farm infrastructure and improve their productivity.

He said by doing so, they hoped to enhance food security, diversify agriculture GDP, increase incomes, and stimulate rural development. The fund will also have deliberate financing packages for youth start-up agribusiness.

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