Business Eswatini Consults with NAMBOARD on Strategic Agricultural Initiatives

In its broad consultations with strategically placed entities aimed at bolstering trade within various sectors, Business Eswatini (BE), led by the CEO, Nathi Dlamini, focused its attention on Agriculture.

BE paid a courtesy visit to the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBoard), a state-owned entity that was established for agricultural development. Representing NAMBoard was the organization’s CEO, Bhekizwe Maziya who unpacked some of the initiatives and achievements of the organization.

The consultation session delved into various strategic issues at the core of which is the advancement of Eswatini’s agricultural sector, highlighting critical areas of interventions made by NAMBoard and exploring potential avenues for improvement.

One of the primary topics addressed during the consultation was Namboard’s decision to cease direct competition with importers of fresh produce. This strategic move emerged in response to concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the impact of the importation of produce by NAMBoard, a well-intended exercise that had unforeseen adverse effects on the fresh produce sector. Having been engaged by the players of the sector, and after careful assessments, NAMBoard discontinued the importation of fresh produce to retain and promote the vibrancy of the importers.

BE commended NAMBoard for being decisive on the issue and not only that but also for making a sound decision geared towards stimulating trade for local businesses. This decision is consistent with the apex federation of employers, BE concluded. 

Another pivotal aspect of the consultation revolved around the aggregator function championed by NAMBoard — a transformative mechanism designed to empower smaller farmers and facilitate their access to broader markets. The aggregator function catalyzes streamlining the distribution process, enabling small-scale producers to pool their resources and leverage collective bargaining power to negotiate favorable terms with buyers and distributors.

By aggregating the produce of smaller farmers, NAMBoard facilitates economies of scale, reduces transaction costs, and enhances the overall efficiency of the agricultural supply chain. This innovative approach not only enables smallholder farmers to overcome logistical challenges and access wider market networks but also fosters inclusive growth and equitable distribution of economic opportunities within the agricultural landscape.

It was noted in the meeting that this exercise is costly such that NAMBoard commits a huge chunk of the levies that the organization collects from the import of various commodities through the country’s borders.

BE encouraged NAMBoard to continue playing this important role as it ensures a coordinated effort to meet local demand using local produce whilst simultaneously allowing locals to participate meaningfully in economic activity. In as much as there is a need to shore up the scale of local farmers, it is also worth noting that without an aggregator, the local industry would crumble to the competitively priced produce that is imported from other countries.

In conclusion, the consultation between BE and NAMBoard heralds a new era of collaboration and strategic alignment in advancing the agricultural agenda of Eswatini.

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