The Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) held its Annual Policy Conference and AGM from the 12th to 15th of June 2017 at the Cooperative College of Swaziland, Ezulwini. The theme of the conference was “Opportunities to Improve Climate Change Resilience and Increase Food and Nutrition Security.”
The conference was preceded by a one-day training on modern biotechnologies and related policy gaps which was attended by 49 leaders of member farmer organisations of SNAU. Its purpose was to increase knowledge of farmers on modern biotechnologies, their advantages and disadvantages, and further expose them to related policy gaps which affect the growth and development of the sector. As part of the training, delegates visited BT cotton demonstration plots and horticulture and grain storage at Malkerns Research Station. The annual policy conference brought together 84 delegates from different stakeholders including farmers, policy makers, academia, media, public sector, and private sector.
Amongst the delegates were the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mr Bongani Masuku who officially opened the conference, and the Minister of Agriculture Mr Moses Vilakati who graced the event on the second day.
In his address, the Minister applauded the union for being consistent in organising annual policy conferences and bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to deliberate on topical matters that require collective approaches in order to improve the performance of the agricultural sector. “The Ministry is aware of the capacity challenges that make it difficult for the union to achieve its objectives, and the Ministry pledges its commitment to support SNAU in addressing these challenges,” said Mr. Vilakati. The conference deliberated on various topics including Conservation Agriculture (CA) and Climate Smart Agriculture (SCA); the role of ICT in climate change; modern biotechnology – focus on GMOs; water harvesting and irrigation development, and sustainable agricultural value chains in the face of climate change.
The conference concluded with a presentation and validation of a study report that assessed and analysed the role played by regulatory bodies in the development of the sector, with a particular interest to the development of farmers’ enterprises. The event ended with the AGM where three board members stepped down to effect the start of a staggering process to ensure continuity in the board following adoption of a new constitution.