On the one hand a trade agreement, on the other hand a development aid policy program; eSwatini agriculture is the lucky beneficiary of the European Union’s cross actions.
Free Access to the European Market and Development Policy
Relations with Europe are in excellent shape and foresee future business collaborations.
First, there is the recent Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in June 2016 between the EU and six members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), including eSwatini.
This alliance allows eSwatini products to enter the European market without tax or quotal.
Another reason for optimism is found in the European Development Funds (2014-2020). The share reserved for the country amounts to 62 million euros, 40 millions of which are reserved for agriculture.
A Little Investment in Agriculture Will Go a Long Way
All statistics place agriculture at the center of the eSwatini economy. Most of the population (1.2 million inhabitants) secure, in effect, their means of living from subsistence farming.
The agricultural sector has an enormous potential due to the climate and the soil quality. However, it remains largely under-exploited for a variety of reasons related to the means of production and the weakness of trade opportunities.
This second point should be partially resolved by the EPA. For production, there remains a need to reinvest in the private sector to bring it up to the level of neighboring countries.
The EU is already on it, considering two objectives of its development assistance plan are to promote environmentally friendly practices (eSwatini is co-signatory of the Paris Climate Agreement) and to contribute to sustainable economic growth.
Industrialization vs. Subsistence Agriculture
Swazi agriculture is currently divided into two unequal parts: the exploitation of state lands and of private lands. The former benefit from modern and industrialized production techniques, while the latter are still mainly dedicated to subsistence farming.
The transition between this subsistence economy towards a trade economy should have the dual advantage of boosting the national GDP and of bringing a large portion of the population out of poverty.
Fortunately, the European Union isn’t working alone to support this sector. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) contributes as well with an investment fund of 1 million euros aimed at sustaining commercialization.