In October 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture, together with the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBoard), recognized farmers in vegetable production at a ceremony held at Mphophoma Training and Centre in Malkerns. These awards were jointly held with the National Maize Competition presentation by the National Maize Corporation (NMC). Both competitions are aimed at increasing agricultural production in Swaziland to achieve food security by 2022.
Lloyd Dlamini, a commercial vegetable farmer based in Sigcineni area near Sidvokodo in the Manzini Region, emerged the overall winner and received the CEO’s special prize. He received inputs and fertilizer worth E10, 000.
Dlamini produces baby vegetables on a 70ha farm, 30ha of which has been developed and equipped with a drip irrigation system. About 40ha of the farm is arable. His main crops are baby marrows, pattypans and green beans. He also produces conventional vegetables including tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes. All his produce is sold to NAMBoard. “I have contracts with NAMBoard which are so far working very well,” he says. He produces an average 15-30 tonnes of vegetables per month, depending on the season. Vegetables production usually reaches its peak during the winter period.
In addition to growing up in a farming environment at his home in Sigombeni area in the Manzini Region, Dlamini’s success in farming has come about as a result of his drive and passion for business and entrepreneurship. Boasting of an Msc in Transport Engineering, Dlamini is the Managing Director of Dlamini-Gibb Swaziland, a local branch of the international engineering consulting firm, Gibb Engineering and Architecture. “Farming should no longer be regarded as a hobby; it is a business and a science. Until you recognize this fact, you will not make it,” he says. Consistent with this philosophy, Dlamini has applied business principles in running the farm and has employed a qualified agronomist to manage the farm, a Mr. Maganda from Zimbabwe.
The farm employs 15 full-time workers and more than 50 casual workers. “Depending on the type of work involved such as planting and harvesting, we have more than 50 people continuously working on the farm,” says Dlamini. The employees come from the Sigcineni community and surrounding areas.
The farm is financed by Standard Bank and is equipped with tractors and all other implements. A portion of the farm is also financed by FINCORP. “If you manage your farm like a business, financiers will always listen to your story,” he says. In this regard, he is challenging other chief executives in corporate Swaziland to consider venturing into commercial agriculture. “These people have the means and skills to run businesses and they can easily succeed in commercial farming,” he says. Dlamini reckons that some of the executives already own farms which are either lying idle or not used for commercial production. “The solution for food security lies with commercial farming,” he says. “If executives in corporate Swaziland were to consider commercial farming, the country would attain its vision of food security and there will be no need for foreign imports.”
Further, Dlamini implores government and all stakeholders to assist small scale farmers in Swazi Nation Land (SNL) to also commercialise their farming. “It is vital that rural farmers are given skills to commercialise their ventures,” he says.
Dlamini has endured a difficult farming period as a result of the drought. “It has been very difficult,” he says. “Our canal ran dry at some point and we lost some crop.”
Despite the difficult times, Dlamini is set to increase production by cultivating the whole farm in the current season. “I am going full scale now because I have realized that this is working for me,” he says. “Water is now available and I have a market. There is just no reason to stop.”