By Inside Biz
The EU Head of Cooperation, Eva-Maria Engdahl has commended the work done by the different companies in the country which are EU-funded.
The main objective of this EU-funded programme is to support job creation for small farmers, entrepreneurs, and artisans. It also seeks to promote export-led growth, especially through the full utilization of the Southern African Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EU EPA).
The visit included stops at the Vukani BoMake Cottage Factory in Ezulwini, the coffee farm of Eswatini Coffee in Elwandle, and the Guba Permaculture Education and Training Centre in Malkerns.
The visit ended at House on Fire, situated in Malkerns, where Ms. Engdahl visited the Black Mamba Foods shop, and met 10 young and emerging businesses under the EU-ITC Artisanal Incubator Programme “Future Icons”. She also met with the rest of the partners under the ITC-EU-funded project for a luncheon.
Speaking during the visit by the EU Head of Cooperation at the Vukani BoMake Ezulwini Cottage Factory, Far East Textiles Managing Director and Business Women Eswatini Chairperson, Tokky Hou, said the project, which turns textile waste into treasure, is already driving sustainable growth of the textile sector.
“We have found a solution to a problem that troubles the whole world: textile waste. We cannot afford, as a country that has a high unemployment rate, to throw textile waste away. Therefore, we collect it to make different products under our factory cottages throughout the country,” she said.
The collaboration between Far East Textiles and the Vukani BoMake project has resulted in the training of 104 women and youth on garment production using recycled material, as well as setting up a cottage factory in Ezulwini. This became the 13th factory of the Vukani BoMake project.
At Eswatini Coffee, Co-founder Patrick Du Pont said they are currently working with a network of 12 farmers from various communities. He added that they are also working on formalizing their growers association to increase their bargaining power, especially in the export market.
Eswatini Coffee has 4.3 hectares of coffee and they are expecting between five to 10 tons of produce this year. “By 2025, we are expecting not less than 30 tons of coffee from the same area as the trees continue to grow. We are expecting them to last not less than 20 years.”
Eswatini Coffee created 12 permanent jobs and about 20 seasonal jobs for coffee pickers between April and September. “We are working very hard towards making sure that we adapt to invest and adapt to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards,” Mr Du Pont said.
Through the programme funded by the EU and implemented by the ITC, Eswatini Coffee trained 120 coffee growers. These coffee growers are now part of the coffee value chain and the coffee growers’ network. The programme also assisted Eswatini Coffee in setting up a nursery, which can grow 20,000 coffee seedlings that they produce and distribute to their growers’ network. As of today, they have already supplied and planted more than 16,000 Arabica coffee plants in all the targeted communities.
Guba Permaculture Education and Training Centre has provided training and education programmes for people from all over the country since 2009, especially from their neighboring communities. “People come here for training. They learn specific skills and concepts that they can then apply back at their homes,” Guba Permaculture Director Sam Hodgson said.
“A lot of focus has been on food systems because they are small scale and less costly as our students can use the material that is available at their disposal,” he further stated.
Guba also hosts a farmer’s market day and conducts farm tours every month, open to the public. They also work with young people to introduce them to the concept of permaculture. “We have an existing group of 50 farmers and about 36 more will be coming in. We will run the selection process again in January and we will have another 15 or 20 people joining us. We are looking to bring in more people on board,” said Hodgson.
Guba also grows chillies and spices that they predominately sell to Black Mamba Foods.
The EU-funded programme supported by Guba has been able to train a total of 50 farmers. Guba incorporated them into its permaculture farmer network and they will now be able to also supply Black Mamba Foods through Guba.
At the Black Mamba Foods shop at House on Fire, the Head of Cooperation was taken through a taste of the different product lines produced by the company. It includes chilli sauces, chutneys, fresh pestos, and jams.
Through this collaboration between the EU and ITC, Black Mamba Foods trained 49 youth from Sisimo and Mavulandlela cooperatives. The training covered product development, processing, and marketing building. The programme is also linking Black Mamba to new markets, like the participation in the Specialty & Fine Food Fair 2023 in London, on 11-12 September.
Speaking at the end of the tour, the EU Head of Cooperation, Eva-Maria Engdahl, commended the work done by the different companies. [L1] [L2]
“I am very excited and impressed by all the businesses that you have started here in Eswatini. I look forward to following you as you expand your businesses as I am sure that you will be very successful,” she said.
EU Programme Officer Luis Miguel Pascoal further encouraged everyone to take full advantage of the support from the EU and ITC, as this is an opportunity that few have in the world.