Advocating for the active Engagement of the Youth in the Agricultural Value Chain

19 - 23 September 2011
Ezulwini, Swaziland

FANRPAN Swaziland dialogue - delegates' field trips

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On the second last day of the 2011 FANRPAN high level regional food security policy dialogue in Swaziland - Thursday, 22 September - delegates went on two different field trips to witness food security projects in action.

Swazi Secrets

Marula has long been known as the King of African trees for its many magical properties, whether medicinal, alcoholic or skincare.

Around February each year, its fruit is gathered by rural women as an important source of income. They use the fruits to make buganu, a potent homemade beer that is a central part of Swazi culture.

After brewing, the women leave the nuts of the fruit to dry in the sun, before cracking them in the traditional way to extract the precious kernels. The fresh kernels are then sold at community buying points to Swazi Indigenous Products - their own 100 percent supplier owned company. Kernels are weighed on site and suppliers are paid immediately.

The kernels are taken to Swazi Indigenous Products’ factory at Mpaka where they are cold pressed, using manual bridge presses. Nothing is added or removed, ensuring that the oil reaches the customer in its pure, natural state.

Oil is kept in cold storage and regularly tested for acid and peroxide levels at the company’s in-house laboratory to ensure that all oil meets quality standards.

The company also produces oil from the seeds of trichilia and ximenia. All three types of oils are then used as the basis of a range of natural skin care products, which Swazi Indigenous Products manufacture themselves. The products are hand crafted to natural formulations to preserve the real qualities of marula and the other African oils.

The oils are despatched to distributors across five continents - benefiting 2 600 rural Swazi women. Customers around the world bear testimony to the efficacy of the natural oils, soaps and other products.

This project formed part of the motivation why Her Majesty, Queen Mother Ntombi Indlovukazi of Swaziland, was awarded with the Food Security Policy Leadership Award and FANRPAN delegates could view it first-hand on a field trip.

Among the various agricultural innovations in Swaziland for which the Queen Mother’s leadership was awarded, this project was singled out for its assistance to poor rural Swazi women to generate income from natural products. It is now owned by member groups of rural suppliers and also assists with social development by supporting self-help groups and a rural livelihoods programme

The Mpolonjeni community - Household vulnerability index in action

Various external influences like HIV/AIDS and climate change have a marked influence on poverty. They mainly manifest themselves in rural households where over 70 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa live.

These people rely on rain-fed agriculture and chronic food insecurity is common among them. The majority of these households lack the necessary capacity to adapt to the negative impacts of these external vulnerabilities.

A statistical tool - the household vulnerability index - assesses a household’s external vulnerability that results from shocks and internal vulnerability or inability to withstand shocks. It then classifies the household as low, moderate and highly vulnerable, depending on its ability to prevail.

Low vulnerability classifies a household as in a vulnerable situation but still able to cope. Moderate vulnerability states that a household has been hit so hard that it needs urgent but temporary assistance to recover. High vulnerability states that the household is in a situation of almost a point of no return - but could be resituated with the best possible expertise.

To identify and measure household vulnerability and to strengthen the capabilities of house-holds to adapt to external hazards, FANRPAN, in partnership with the University of Venda and World Vision Swaziland researched the community of Mpolonjeni - a stop on the FANRPAN field trip. Visitors saw mixed agricultural farming where a low vulnerable household operates a chicken, rabbit, mushroom and heap garden operation.

The research team mapped out the various needs to tailor aid according to the needs of households. The documented research maps out the different households in the Mpolonjeni community, across the three household vulnerability index categories - low, medium and high - and the differentiators.

Vulnerability mapping will go a long way in informing how interventions should be targeted to alleviate poverty and address food security issues.