Sugar farmers, workers to benefit from E44m aid
Swazi Times Jan 30, 2007

MBABANE – Swaziland will benefit from a more than E44 million finance agreement to cushion the adverse effects of the proposed cut in sugar prices in the world market.

Expected to benefit are farmers and workers who might get retrenched in the sugar industry, as a result of decreasing profits.

In December 2006, the European Commission and the government of Swaziland signed a Financing Agreement for 4. 703. 000 Euros of the European Commission (EC) budget funds under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries.

According to a press release from the EU offices, this amount is the first allocation of funds towards assisting Swaziland in the implementation of the measures outlined in the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS).

The money will go towards establishment and operation of a Restructuring and Diversification Management Unit (RDMU).

This unit was noted as one of the priorities among the measures outlined in the NAS document.

“The overall aim of the EC support in the context of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries is to minimise any adverse effects of the EC reform on the Swazi sugar sector and national economy, as well as maximise the exploitation of any opportunities that may arise,” reads the press release.

It says the purpose of the RDMU is to provide the human and institutional capacity for the coordination of a coherent response strategy and the elaboration of specific identified projects and programme initiatives.

The unit to be established will not replace existing organs but will assist in coordinating the implementation of the measures contained in the NAS.

“Its role will thus be to provide the means for the attainment of a specific goal of the NAS. Furthermore, the unit will limit its involvement in implementation of measures; as such will be delegated to institutions such as the Swaziland Sugar Association, the Swaziland Cane Growers Association and government ministries.

The RDMU’s key result area is to assist in the interventions listed below:

l Finance to alleviate debt and improve loan schemes.

l Smallholder financing and productivity improvement.

l Sensitisation on the use of substandard seeds which compromise the quality of cane yields.

l Bio-fuel development and cogeneration.

l Transport and material han- dling.

l Identifying needs and de- veloping new models for social service provision.

l Skills gap or entrepreneurial trainings for retrenched workers to enable them to be reabsorbed into the em- ployment pool.

l Defining an irrigation policy and investments made to- wards the concerned areas.