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Type Journal Article - International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
Title Monitoring Agriculture Sector Performance in Swaziland: Investment, Growth and Poverty Trends, 2000—2011, ReSAKSS-SA Annual Trends and Outlook Report 2012
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://www.resakss.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/resakssswaziland_ator_0.pdf
Abstract
This first annual trends and outlook (ATOR) report for Swaziland assesses the performance of the agriculture
sector in terms of investment, growth, and poverty and hunger outcomes over the period 2000–2011. The
need for monitoring arises from the fact, that Swaziland and other African countries need to regularly assess
whether or not they are making good on their commitments in terms of national development targets and
regionally agreed development targets; and provide such information to various state and non–state actors
and stakeholders at national and regional levels.
The focus of this first ATOR is on assessment of the progress the agricultural sector of Swaziland has
made towards achieving national and regionally agreed goals and targets, in particular, those under the
Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and Regional Indicative Strategic
Development Plan (RISDP) of Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The assessment of agricultural sector performance found that, although the government has made some
effort to increase investment in the agricultural sector, public investment in the sector has been low (averaging
4.5% per year) and the country has consistently been unable to achieve the 10% budget allocation target as
required under the Maputo Declaration. This has subsequently led to a slow annual average agricultural GDP
growth of 4.4% and, at that rate, Swaziland has been unable to achieve the CAADP 6% annual growth target
in most years.
Expenditure analysis revealed that personnel emoluments averaging 40% was largest share of the budget,
compared to 33% for capital expenditure and 25% for goods and services. Furthermore, 54% of the agricultural
budget went to the crop subsector and 45% to the livestock subsector. However, a look at the contribution
to agricultural GDP found that the crop subsector contributed 82–90% compared to 6–11% contributed by
the livestock subsector. This suggests that, relative to subsector contribution to the AgGDP, the agricultural
expenditure would appear to be biased towards livestock at the expense of the crop subsector. However, of
the both subsectors, as noted already, the largest portion of the budget was spent on salaries and wages. The
expenditure by core functions revealed that R&D at 9.5% had the smallest share in the agriculture expenditure
compared to extension (37.8%) and infrastructure and irrigation (14.2%). This implies that there has been
underfunding of R&D in Swaziland and, that it has slowed the development of productivity enhancing
technologies. This has subsequently contributed to low agricultural growth and productivity in the crop and
livestock subsectors.
The average annual livestock growth rates were 0.5% for cattle, 0.7% for sheep, 4.2% for goat and 4.9%
for chicken. In most years, the livestock annual growth rates were below the SADC-RISDP livestock annual
growth target of 4%. Most livestock production, in particular, cattle is carried out by smallholder farmers, but
these have low numbers of animals, low–off take and are mainly subsistence–oriented. Efforts are needed to
encourage commercialization and to raise livestock productivity through better access to inputs, breeding
animals and veterinary services.
Regarding crop productivity, the yields for maize (the major cereal crop in Swaziland) averaged 1,246 kg/
ha annually, which is below the SADC-RISDP target of 2,000 kg/ha cereal yield. The average maize yield was
highest in the Highveld Region, which has high and reliable rainfall, and lowest in the Lowveld Region, which
has low and erratic rainfall. Under rainfed production, it will be difficult to raise productivity in the Lowveld, and,
as such, encourage maize production in the high rainfall areas like the Middleveld and Highveld. Furthermore,
encourage households to grow more drought-tolerant crops such as cassava, cotton, sunflower, groundnuts,
sorghum and legumes (chick pea), in the dry areas, e.g., the Lowveld.
The differences in crop productivity across agro–ecological zones, implies that certain crops are more suitable
for growing in some areas than others. In this regard, research should be encouraged to identify appropriate
crops and agricultural activities in line with the agro–ecological potential of the different regions. The role
of fertilizer usage in raising crop productivity may need to be addressed. Note that although Swaziland
has surpassed the SADC-RISDP fertilizer target rate of 65 kg/ha, this has not been translated into yield
improvements for maize, which is the major staple crop in the country. This implies that fertilizer use may be
low among maize producers, the majority of whom are the smallholder farmers on SNL. Extension services
may need to be intensified to address crop productivity issues, in particular fertilizer application and choice
of suitable crops according to agro–ecological regions. In addition, to enhance farmers’ access to farm inputs
like fertilizer, credit and market access for agricultural produce. Smallholder farmers in the appropriate regions
vishould be encouraged to graduate from subsistence production to enter commercial production and, thereby
ensure progress in poverty and hunger reduction.
In addition, the use of farm inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides have implications on cost of production and
returns. To encourage farmers to use such inputs, appropriate produce-pricing would be necessary. In the
case of maize in Swaziland, the intervention in maize marketing by the NMC as buyer of last resort and the sole
importer of maize has implications on pricing, which discourages increasing maize production in the country.
The analysis of poverty and hunger trends shows that income and employment are key drivers of better
access to food, dietary diversity and, subsequently to food security. Poverty rates during the study period
(2000 – 2011) were higher in regions with high unemployment, (e.g., Shiselweni and Lubombo regions) than
those with low unemployment, (e.g., Manzini region). Other factors or shocks affecting livelihood and causing
food insecurity and poverty included: high food prices, drought or prolonged dry spells, chronic illnesses and
deaths, especially those associated with HIV/AIDS.
In regions that are constrained by drought; agricultural investment could contribute to reducing hunger,
poverty and inequality among affected households by improving access to drought-tolerant crops and
smallholder irrigation technologies for vegetable and fruit production. In addition, to ameliorate the labor
constraints in households affected by chronic illnesses (HIV/AIDS) and death, the agricultural strategy will
have to enhance use of labor–saving technologies, including provision of government tractor hire services

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