Swaziland, also called as Ngwane or Swatini, is a small, landlocked country located in southern Africa. It has two capitals – Mbabane (royal/administrative) and Lobamba (legislative). Swaziland’s population is slightly over one million. The economically poor Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Swaziland is administratively divided into four districts, and each district is sub-divided into tinkhundla, the total number of tinkhundla in the country being 55. Although geographically small in size, the country enjoys a variety of landscapes including mountains, savannas, rain forests, and several rivers. The peak of winter in the country is June and that of summer is December. Rainfall, mostly falling during the summer, is higher in the western region than in the eastern part. Winter months are dry. Temperatures depend on altitudes of locations, ranging from mild to quite hot.
The agricultural sector of Swaziland is characterized by two distinct types: first, high value crops like sugarcane, citrus and forests grown in the irrigated, productive and industrialized area, (called Title Deeds Land or TDL—a freehold /concession form of ownership comprising commercial plantations, estates, ranches and farms) producing over 81 percent of the total agricultural output and contributing about 8.6 percent of the GDP; and second, subsistence farming on small plots practiced by about 70 percent of the population in rain-fed areas (called Swazi Nation Land or SNL---the land held in trust by the king for the Swazi people and allocated to individual families as communal tracts by the chiefs) of low fertility and declining yields, with maize as the dominant crop, and contributing about 1.2 percent of the GDP. The commercial agriculture sector comprises large sugar estates on TDL and some small farms on SNL. Other crops grown are cotton, potatoes, rice, sorghum, pineapples, tobacco, and beans. Livestock include cattle, goats and sheep.
Key Statistics and Indicators
Agricultural land (sq km)
Agricultural land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares)
Arable land (% of land area)
Arable land (hectares per person)
|Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)||N.A.|
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)
Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)
Food exports (% of merchandise exports)
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
|GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)||3470||2011|
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)
Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)
Internet users (per 100 people)
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Rural population (% of total population)
Agricultural population (% of total population)*
Total economically active population
Total economically active population in agriculture*
Total economically active population in agriculture (in %
of total economically active population)
Female economically active population in agriculture (% of
total economically active population in agriculture)*
Sources: The World Bank
History of Extension and the Enabling Environment
Agricultural extension services in Swaziland were first organized in 1930 when the country was a British colony. Till early 1950s, foreign extension workers from Transkei (the area beyond the river Kei) used to persuade farmers to make contour strips in their fields and not to plough down slope.
In 1969, Rural Development Areas were established in Swaziland with funding from the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Kingdom. The British style of extension was followed, based on the division of the Ministry of Agriculture into several commodity sections such as horticulture, livestock, etc., with each section having its own extension staff.
In 1972, the government launched Rural Development Area Program (RADP). The pilot phase was implemented from 1972 to 1977 under which four areas were developed, with each area having its specific rural development program. The government constructed more than 200 staff houses for extension workers and home economists. Extension staff was provided with transportation, and each extension worker was required to cover only 350 farmers. The second phase of RADP covered 13 areas from 1978 till 1980s. USAID, China and Japan provided funding for various aspects of the program. The program activities, in spite of being beneficial to extension staff and farmers, could not be sustained after the donor funding ended, and a planned third phase never materialized. One factor that negatively affected the RADP was a lack of coordination between the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Swaziland and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (now called Ministry of Agriculture).
In 1985, the Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension was introduced in the country with World Bank financing. However, this model started collapsing just after two years, plagued by a host of problems of logistic, technical, political, and communication nature. In 1989, the USAID funded Swaziland Cropping Systems Research and Extension Training Project that brought teams of experts from the Pennsylvania State University and Tennessee State University to Swaziland who tried to modify the failing T&V system by shifting its top-down technology delivery approach to a bottom-up, farmers’ need based approach, and making some other changes in the original model. Results were reportedly better than before.
Thereafter, extension services in Swaziland went through a period of deterioration for almost 20 years due to little participation of stakeholders, poor in-service training, a lack of leadership, and inadequate resource allocation. In mid-2007, the Swaziland National Agricultural Summit (SNAS) was held where the Swaziland Agricultural Development Program (SADP) was conceived to revitalize the extension services. The SADP funded by the European Union and executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), started in 2009 and still continues. The program’s objective is to develop improved smallholder production and marketing systems which lead to sustainable food security and an improved quality of life for rural households in Swaziland. Mid-term evaluation of SADP was done in June 2011 leading to certain major recommendations aimed at improving the implementation.
Donors that have provided financial and technical assistance to Swaziland in agriculture and related areas include the World Bank, European Union (Swaziland Smallholder Irrigation Project, or SHIP); Swaziland Agricultural Development Program, or SDAP), various United Nations agencies such as UNDP, FAO, IFAD (Smallholder Agricultural Development Project), UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, and UNICEF, African Development Bank, USA, Japan, China, Italy and Canada.
Major Institutions Providing Extension/Advisory Services
Ministry of Agriculture
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the development and promotion of appropriate technologies and efficient extension services while ensuring stakeholder participation and sustainable development and management of natural resources in the country. One of several departments of the Ministry is the Department of Agriculture and Extension Services that advises farmers on improved farming systems and technologies that will assure increased productivity and improve their standards of living.
The Extension Services Section, located within the Department of Agricultural and Extension Services, is responsible for the following tasks:
- To equip farmers with relevant skills to ensure increased agricultural production and productivity, and improve the living standards of households in the rural and peri-urban areas of the country.
- To enable the country to increase food production and access to nutritious and safe food products for food security and to improve nutritional status of the Swazi nation.
- To facilitate the establishment of agriculture based industries and businesses in order to help boost the rural farm income and employment creation in the rural and peri-urban areas of the country.
- To facilitate and help farmers achieve an increase in production and improved quality of farm produce to meet demands for export thus facilitating foreign exchange earnings for the country.
- To increase socio-economic status of families in the regions.
- To mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS through ensuring food security.
National Agricultural Marketing Board
The National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBoard) is one of the parastatal organizations of the Ministry of Agriculture responsible for stimulating local agricultural production by providing technical advice and the marketing of produce in Swaziland, particularly focusing on small farmers. Besides having a statutory section, the NAMBoard has two more sections: the Farm Support and Development Unit, which helps small farmers to develop their businesses, and Encabeni Fresh Produce Market, which provides an outlet for the produce of the farmers.
University of Swaziland
The University of Swaziland does not provide direct extension services to the farmers. However, its Faculty of Agriculture plays an important role in extension through offering degree programs through its Agricultural Education and Extension Department. The faculty apparently played an active role during the implementation of the Rural Development Area Program. One of the objectives of the faculty is to collaborate with all stakeholders in the development and dissemination of technology and information. The staff members also provide consultancy services.
There is no private company that is presently engaged in providing extension services to the farmers in Swaziland. It is assumed that some farm input suppliers give technical advice to the farmers while selling and promoting the sale of their products, with technical soundness in such cases remaining dubious. Swaziland has a number of private agricultural companies. Most of them own agricultural estates where they grow commodities of their choice for sale in the local and overseas markets. Some of these companies market processed agricultural products while some manufacture agricultural related items. A few examples of private companies located in Swaziland are as follows:
- Crane Feeds, Matsapha (manufacturers and distributors of balanced animal feeds).
- Pannar Seed (Swaziland) Pty Ltd., Mbabane (producer of improved grain and pasture seeds).
- Khuba Traders, Manzini.
- Ubombo Sugar Limited, Big Bend (cane growing, sugar milling and refining).
- Agri-Chemo Pty Ltd., Manzini (all agricultural and veterinary supplies including liquefied fertilizers).
- Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation, Simunye (incorporates Mhlume and Simunye sugar estates, and is one of the largest Swazi-owned business groups).
- Aqua-Flo Engineering, Manzini (irrigation, hydroponic tunnels, boreholes, small farm dams).
A Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organizations exists in Manzini, Swaziland, which has many member NGOs. There are many NGOs that are performing useful activities for rural and agricultural development in Swaziland but none of them provides extension services to farmers on regular basis.
Africa Cooperative Action Trust
The Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT) Lilima Swaziland is a national NGO established in 1982, with offices in Mbabane. It is primarily engaged in agricultural and rural development activities, and provides services in the following areas: agriculture, food security and agricultural extension; training and capacity building; enterprise development for self-employment; promotion of rural microfinance through formation of savings and credit associations; and HIV awareness creation. In 2007, ACAT had a staff of 20 including seven extension officers. It has partnership with the University of Swaziland, Malkerns Research Station and some other institutions.
A few other relevant NGOs are:
- Church Agricultural Projects (CAP), Mbabane.
- Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center, Manzini.
- School of Appropriate Farm Technology, Lobamba.
- Swaziland Farmer Development Foundation, Manzini.
- Africa Cooperative Action Trust, Mbabane.
- Balolongi Mobile Technical Training Institute, Mbabane.
- Mahlanya Young Farmer, Malkerns.
- Malkerns Women’s Institute, Malkerns.
- Masibabisame Youth Maize Club, Mbabane.
- Yifuce Youth Organization, located at Mbabane.
- Yonge Nawe Environmental Action Group, based at Mbabane.
- TechnoServe (an international non-profit organization active in rural and agricultural development in Swaziland).
Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies
No information is available on how much extension support various farmers’ associations are providing to their members. The associations, however, undertake activities that are of direct or indirect benefit to their members. A few examples of farmers’ associations are as follows:
Swaziland National Agricultural Union
The Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) is an umbrella body for all farmers’ organizations in Swaziland. It is presently under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Union (SACAU). The SNAU is vested to serve as a union that promotes and safeguards the interests of farmers by linking them with stakeholders, facilitating a favorable environment for production, access to land, water, markets, research, and technology for improvement of their livelihoods.
Swaziland Sugar Association
The Swaziland Sugar Association (SSA) is not a typical farmers-based organization. It is more of a sugar industry driven body with substantial resources, but at the same time, it involves a large number of smallholder sugarcane growers. SSA has its own subject-matter specialists and extension officers who organize seminars and training sessions for growers. They make regular visits to the growers’ fields alongside government extension officers. There are two senior extension officers one each based in the northern and southern regions. A smallholder cane growers’ competition is organized annually to encourage the adoption of good farming practices.
Luyengo Dairy Farmers’ Association
The Luyengo Dairy Farmers’ Association, established in 1973, is located in the Manzini Region. Its main area of work is livestock and dairy products.
National Pig Farmers’ Association
The president of the Swaziland National Agricultural Union has recently made a statement about establishing a National Pig Farmers’ Association possibly this year (2013). No update is yet available on the status of the association.
Smallholder Sugar Farmers’ Associations
As many as 15 Smallholder Sugarcane Farmers’ Associations have been established in Swaziland under the Komati Downstream Development Program (KDDP).
A negative image of cooperatives emerged in Swaziland due to three major incidents: first, the collapse of the Central Cooperative Union; second, non-completion of the building project of the Swaziland Association of Savings and Credit Cooperatives; and third, failure of the Asikhutulisane’s Sentra Supermarket. The number of agricultural cooperative has been declining. According to a report in 2007, there were 167 registered primary cooperatives in Swaziland, 98 of which were agricultural/multipurpose cooperatives. The same year also shows 26 unregistered, functional agricultural/multipurpose cooperatives in the country.
In spite of the above mentioned setbacks, the government is supportive of the development of cooperatives. It is evident from the recent establishment of a separate Department of Cooperatives under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. Prior to that, cooperatives were covered by the Ministry of Agriculture. Also, there is Cooperative College of Swaziland that was established in 1976 under the initiative of the Swedish Cooperative Center and the International Labor Organization (ILO). There is no specific information available on extension support provided by agricultural cooperatives to their member farmers.
List of Extension Providers
The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Uganda. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.
Training Options for Extension Professionals
For pre-service education in agricultural extension, the University of Swaziland is the only academic institution of higher learning in Swaziland. The Agricultural Education and Extension Department offers degree programs in extension.
In-service training courses in extension and related topics is either offered on regular basis by the following institutions, or may be arranged on ad hoc basis by the extension officials:
- Faculty of Agriculture, University of Swaziland.
- Agriculture Teacher Training Colleges.
- School of Appropriate Farm Technology.
- Manzini Industrial Training Center.
- Agricultural Research and Specialists Department, Ministry of Agriculture.
- Current donor-funded projects in agricultural and rural development.
- Swaziland Sugar Association.
- The Emlalatini Development Center, Mbabane (EDC--a government institution under the Ministry of Education; provides correspondence education, vocational courses, and agriculture teacher in-service training).
- TechnoServe, Swaziland.
Info-mediaries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension
The Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, established in 2009, is responsible for the development of ICT in Swaziland’s public and private sectors. The development of ICT is included in the National Development strategy –Vision 2022 that the government started following in 1997. In 2006, the government developed a draft ICT policy document, and a multi-disciplinary team has been consulting stakeholders for the integration of the ICT policy into the National Development Strategy. According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Swaziland was 63.70. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 18.13.
Swaziland is one of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, covered by the Agriculture Rural Development Youth ICT Project (ARDYIS), implemented by the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Wageningen, Netherland. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness among the youth and to strengthen their capacity in ICTs for tackling agricultural and rural development issues.
Another project, Strengthening Rural Youth Employment Opportunities in ICTs and Agriculture in Southern Africa (SOFIA), has been recently launched with emphasis on Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia. The project will support youth training centers and young farmer groups, to make more effective use of ICTs to enhance employment and business opportunities. This project is being implemented by CTA as a part of the ARDYIS Project, mentioned above.
A non-profit organization, Computer Education Trust, formed in 1999, is promoting computer literacy and vocational ICT training in Swaziland for educational purposes. Funding for this initiative has come from local private business sources. In addition, the University of Swaziland has started a program on information technology for teachers for introducing computer education in schools. The university also has an ICT Center and an Institute of Distance Education.
Presently, there is no evidence of ICTs being incorporated into extension or in other agricultural programs in Swaziland. However, the situation could change in coming years in light of above mentioned ICT initiatives particularly in the area of agricultural and rural development.
Resources and References
Abler, D.G., G.P. Rauniyar and F.M. Goode. 1992. Field trials as an extension technique: The case of Swaziland. NJARE, April 1992; Pp. 30-35
Connolly, M., G. Ndlangamandla, and W. Sikhondze. 2011. National Agricultural Extension Policy Development in Swaziland. Paper presented at the International Conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services, held at Nairobi, 15-18 November, 2011.
Diamond, J.E. (1994). Agricultural extension in Swaziland: An evolution. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, Spring 1994; Pp. 71-76
Dlamini, M.B. and M.B. Masuku.2013. Profitability of smallholder sugarcane farming in Swaziland: The case of Komati Downstream Development Program (KDDP) Sugar Farmers’ Associations, 2005-2011. Sustainable Agriculture Research, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2013; Pp. 8-14.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. Swaziland Agricultural Development Program (SADP). Office of Evaluation
Hlatshwako, C. (2010). Economic Empowerment of Swazi Society through Cooperative Development. CoopAfrica Working Paper No. 13; International Labor Organization (ILO)
Isaacs, S. 2007. ICT in Education in Swaziland. In Survey of ICT and Education in Africa: Swaziland Country Report www.infodev.org
Jibowo, A.A., M.J. Simelane and B.B. Dlamini (no date; probably 2011). Strategies for coping with weather changes adopted by agriculture teachers and students of Shiselweni Region high schools, Swaziland
Mavimbela, P., M.B. Masuku and A. Belete .2010. Contribution of savings and credit cooperatives to food crop production in Swaziland: A case study of smallholder farmers. African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 5 (21), Pp. 2868-2874, 4 November, 2010
MNM Consultants CC . 2002. Report on the Social Aspects on the Usuthu River: Swaziland and Mozambique. Prepared for DWAF/DFID Strategic Environmental Assessment
Muwanga, F.T. 2002. Impact of HIV/AIDS on Agriculture and the Private Sector in Swaziland: The Demographic, Social and Economic Impact on Subsistence Agriculture, Commercial Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Business
Oladele, O.I., J. Lepetu, S.K. Subair and J. Obuh.2009. SWOT analysis of extension systems in Southern African countries. Journal of Agriculture and Environment for International Development 2009, 103 (4): 309-320.
Sachs, C. and C. Roach.1983. Women and Agricultural Production on Swazi Nation Land. Research study conducted in conjunction with the Swaziland Cropping Systems Research and Extension Training Project, June-August 1983.
Simelane, N. 2011. An Assessment of the Role of Cooperatives in Smallholder Dairy Production and Marketing in Swaziland. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Southern African Development Community Multi-Country Agricultural Production Program (SADC MAPP) .2007. Agricultural Situation Analysis in Swaziland. Draft Consultancy Report submitted to SADC MAPP
Swaziland Review 2011. Agriculture; available at http://www.swazilandreview.com/agriculture.html
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- Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (July 2013)
- Edited by Burton E. Swanson