EU Project Swaziland

Capacity Building with Organic Field Schools for Improved Smallholder Farming in Swaziland

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10th EDF MICRO PROJECTS
by the Government of Swaziland as represented by the National Authorising Officer 
for the 10th European Development Fund

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Overall Objective:

Smallholder Farmers, especially Women and Youth are empowered through “Capacity Building in Organic Farming“ and through own community organization. 
Techniques and Extension to “Organic Farming for stallholder farmers” will improve agricultural outputs (in quality and productivity) and will improve food and income security.

Specific Objective: 

6 Organic Field Schools (OFS) in two regions will function as platform for knowledge transfer, training and extension, distributer of food, seeds and tools. 
Extension Workers will give the knowledge transfer for improved farming-methods to smallholder farmers and the farmers’ associations.

Main Results:

R1) 6 Organic Field Schools (OFS) are built up and established to empower members of female farmers’ associations and smallholder farmers in the selected areas. 
R2) 12 selected members of female farmers’ associations are empowered and trained in organic agriculture practices (ToT) and work as multiplier in agricultural extension.
R3) Organic Field Schools are used for agricultural production, for delivery and storage of seeds, for knowledge transfer, trainings and demonstration.

Main Activities:

A1) Build up 6 OFS on suitable NCPs. 
– Carry out a PRA survey and information events for beneficiaries. 
– Construct farm infrastructure like storage buildings, pasture fencing, organic seeds, cultivation tools, irrigation and food processing machines.
– Establish user-management committees. 
A2) ToT training: 
– Select 12 participants to carry out ToT trainings (2 month) and on the job training (4 month) at OFS. 
– Work out curricula and teaching material for organic farming and OFS. 
– Conduct final workshop for possible follow-ups. 
A3) Smallholder training on OFS: 
– Conduct a baseline survey to design a working plan and workshops for smallholder farmer at OFS. 
– Equip OFS with teaching material. 
– Recruit continuously participants for OFS.
– Initiate extension service for local farmers and regular counseling for OFS.
– Ensure Ownership of OFS through farmers’ associations after the project end.

Relevance of the Project:

The Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Swaziland in the low middle field at place 140 of 187 countries. But this is not representing the devastating situation in Swaziland. Several droughts over the last 10 years caused severe food shortages and made huge parts of the population dependent on food aid. Nearly 70% of the population lives with less than 1 US$ per day. The unemployment rate is estimated to 40% (CIA World Factbook). Rural areas are especially affected as 84% of the Swazis live there (UNICEF Statistic), their income is four times lower than in cities and 76% of rural population live under the poverty line (IFAD). Another drastic problem is HIV/AIDS. Swaziland has the highest adult prevalence rate HIV/AIDS in the world with 26% (CIA) and its impact on the demographic trend is a major challenge to the country’s socioeconomic development. They traditional working generation practically doesn’t exist in Swaziland, 47% of population is under age 15 (IFAD) and life expectancy is 35 in 2011 (HDI). This has huge effects on the agricultural sector in Swaziland which is still the basis of Swaziland’s economy (IFAD). About 70% of the population depends on subsistence agriculture (CIA). But the productivity highly depends on the ecological zones and their rainfalls. Only 10% is arable farmland of which only 37% is under irrigation (IFAD). Due to the droughts of the last years the growth of the agricultural sector has been low. Irrigation is a major problem but also access to roads, linkages to markets and vulnerability to climate changes are limiting factors. Additional prices of farm inputs like fertilizers and pesticides have increased over the past few years. But the lack of knowledge on adapted agricultural techniques and the proceeding soil deprivation made farmers dependent on them. Our proposed project will take place in Shiselweni and Manzini. Shiselweni belongs to the poorest areas in the country. It is located in the Lowveld, the hottest and driest zone where poverty concentrates (IFAD). Especially the rural and marginalized areas of Manzini show high vulnerability to food insecurity and poverty, too. Demonstration on the OFS and the extension worker ensure the knowledge transfer to the farmers in the region. The achievement of sustain and equitable agricultural development remains the greatest challenge facing the Swazi nation. The essential task of agricultural development is to provide opportunities so that the Swazi people can reach their potential in acquiring a chance for better life.

The Project:

The proposed action aims to improve the agricultural output in two selected regions of Swaziland. Shiselweni and Manzini. At present there is a major gap in the dissemination of agricultural knowledge for improved agricultural production on marginal land. Due to the fact that there is not enough skilled and trained personnel for extension services and due to missing sources for appropriate infrastructure, the project aims to fill this gap by developing initiatives to train and strengthen capacities within the female farmers’ associations and to improve dissemination of organic agriculture techniques by implementing Organic Field Schools (OFS), providing training and infrastructure to them.

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Locations of the action: Swaziland, Shiselweni and Manzini region 
(Picture: CIA Worldfactbook 2013)

Central part of the project will be continuously capacity building of identified members of local female farmers’ associations in the target regions. 12 selected farmers will function as agricultural extension workers in the 6 established OFS which will function as demonstration farms. The comprehensive capacity building will in detail deal with organic farming practices like sustainable land preparation and soil conservation practices, production and use of organic fertilizers, crop rotation practices, water conservation techniques, seed breeding and production techniques, On-farm-research, processing of crops, storage of agricultural products, animal grazing management, as well as improved marketing strategies.

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Table 1: Interrelation of results

The National Project Partner Hand-in-Hand Swaziland

The action is adapted to the project of Hand-in-Hand Swaziland (HiHS), the national partner organization. Their project focuses on the establishment of Neighborhood Care Points (NCPs) as community based facilities to improve the nutrition and education of the many orphans in Swaziland (due to the high HIV rate). Hand in Hand constructed already 100 NCPs in rural areas of Swaziland where orphans and vulnerable children are cared for. The NCPs are fenced on land properties of 900m² and each NCP is accompanied by a kitchen garden to support the food production and to teach children basic agricultural knowledge.

The women who are responsible for the agricultural activities in the NCPs already organized themselves in farmers’ associations and take care of basic food self-sufficiency to overcome the dependency on external food aid. In addition to that, they also practice home gardening for their private food needs. The Organic Field Schools will serve the purpose to develop new modalities of subsistence farming and to build up an agricultural extension service, with which the members of the female farmers’ associations can spread their gained knowledge about organic farming to local smallholder farmers. Thereby adaptive learning practices will be applied and the contents of the teaching courses will be tailored to the specific problems and needs of local smallholder farmers. Besides the intermediation of sustainable modes of farming, the lecturers will be highly sensitive to the very special circumstances surrounding the creation of the NCPs and to the fact that some of the target group and the beneficiaries previously not have been familiar with systematic farming methods and techniques.

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The NCPs are often central points in the life of the local communities. 
Best practices will disseminate soon by word-of-mouth recommendations. The knowledge of improved low-input organic agriculture techniques will contributes to increased agricultural output and can be easily applied by community members and transferred to the next generation. 
(Pictures: GNE 2013)

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The trained female farmers will function as multipliers and therefore have a vital role in the development and dissemination of agricultural knowledge. They will conduct further trainings and consult local farmers in agricultural issues. 
(Pictures: GNE 2013)

For more information about Hand-in-Hand Swaziland: http://www.handinhand-ev.org

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of GNE mbH and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union .

Link: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm