Well-after the Cold Chain Summit, NAMBoard has not stopped capacitating farmers for sustainable commercial production. NAMBoard’s Farmer Support Development Unit invited Mr. Vusi Mavuso -Horticulture Specialist from the Ministry of Agriculture to lead training of farmers and the public at large in all the Eswatini regions on fruit tree farming and management. These training series ran from 01 October to 17th October 2019.

Kicking off the series of fruit tree trainings was the Hhohho region, who convened at Gesawu on the 1st of October 2019 to be capacitated on fruit tree management.

A total number of 72 farmers were in attendance, the co-operation and representation from the various RDAs under the Hhohho region was impressive. Farmers came from Madlangempisi, Ntfonjeni and Mayiwane RDAs. There was a mix of farmers that already have tree farms and others have just the land and would love to grow trees

The citrus value chain is one of those that NAMBoard is working on completely localization, the localization program aims at achieving self sufficiency by the country by 2023. 

This initiative was brought about by a study that outlined emaSwati as people who grow trees without the knowledge of tree management. This was seconded by comments from the farmers during the trainings as some of them commented ‘I didn’t know I lacked so much knowledge’, ‘I now understand why my trees produce on one side and not both sides’.

Key talking points from the trainings was that farmers need assistance with boom sprayers that can may be stationed for use in each region Also highlighted was that Extension officers need to release to the public well-articulated income gross margin/ha for the targeted fruit tree- citrus, this it was observed that the farming sector still lack well-articulated gross margins for lemons and other citrus varieties.

Any interest in lemon? There is interest for lemons especially after announcing the demand in such in the market, challenge is finding the fruit tree seedlings for which NAMBoard and the Ministry of Agriculture Horticulture section promised to work on. This training session proved to be very helpful for the farmers as most of them pointed out that, they were not aware that they lacked so much knowledge. Knowledge is indeed powerful!

Trees may not yield immediate returns as they take time to produce fruits however, they are an investment because not only are they a source of shelter, they act as wind breakers but their value increases with time and the best part is once they start fruiting, they do not stop.

Farmers will realize good returns from fruit tree plantations provided they are properly managed from a young age. For instance, trees should not be planted when summer is at its peak- December and January, just before the rainy season is fine or else, they are likely to die. Also paint them in white to reflect the sunlight.

Lastly be watchful of the number one enemy of trees and that is fire, plant some vegetables in between them trees so that the area is clean and less prone to fire.

This is just a glimpse of the knowledge that was shared in these sessions. Read my next article with details on fruit tree management. For now, farmers can be excited about the anticipated a productive planting season.

Next stop is Siphofaneni, Lubombo get ready!!!