At their 2018 annual policy conference, the Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) deliberated on the role of farmers’ organisations (FOs) in socioeconomic development.
Farmers, private sector, public sector, academia and policy makers were among those in attendance. SACAU was also represented. The event provided a platform for participants to deliberate on different topics that relate to socio-economic development and the role of FOs. The conference agreed that Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) are indeed a useful tool to improve small-scale farmers’ socioeconomic conditions.
Findings of a study commissioned by SNAU indicate that farmers who belong to FBOs generally earn high incomes relative to their counterparts outside these structures, thus providing a strong case for belonging to FBOs. Age, education level, farm size and the number of years in farming were said to be some of the factors influencing farmers’ participation in FBOs.
These findings, point to the need to sensitise farmers on the benefits of collective action. This, together with meaningful service provision to farmers will increase the participation of farmers in FBOs. At the conference, SNAU welcomed the move to improve the Farm Input Subsidy Program in which, together with other institutions, will be involved in its implementation where its role is to register farmers.
SNAU is already registering farmers onto an electronic platform and has more than 20,000 farmers on this database. Thus, the work under the Subsidy Program will build on this initiative.