Throw away veg­eta­bles

Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries By Ackel Zwane

Em­bat­tled veg­etable grow­ers of Maphatsind­vuku out­side Siteki are now giv­ing away their ready veg­eta­bles as an­i­mal feed or turn­ing the plants over in or­der to give way for maize plant­ing now that they have lost the Siteki mar­ket.

This is be­cause an­other highly equipped farm a few kilo­me­tres from the plateau town is sup­ply­ing the pro­duce di­rect to Siteki ven­dors at the mar­ket ad­ja­cent the bus rank and at very at­trac­tive prices. This has cut the need for ven­dors to pay for trans­port costs to pur­chase their daily stock of veg­gies at Maphatsind­vuku about 15 kilo­me­tres away.

In the process the 79 veg­etable pro­duc­ers have been marginalised and left stranded with their crop as no other buy­ers come to the gar­den save for pock­ets of vil­lagers who buy in in­signif­i­cantly small quan­ti­ties, no more than E10 at a time.

Des­per­ate times have called for des­per­ate mea­sures as the farm­ers, mainly moth­ers, a num­ber of them wid­ows who sin­gle hand­edly raise or­phans, are join­ing hands to hire a half lorry be­long­ing to one Mb­hamali, a fel­low farmer, to ferry their pro­duce to the Manzini mar­ket about 50 kilo­me­tres away on a daily ba­sis even though this might not as prof­itable at least it would be bet­ter than de­stroy­ing the large acreage of pro­duce all be­cause there is no buyer.

“Even if we make a loss at least we shall have sal­vaged our labours by get­ting the cash no mat­ter how lit­tle than to give our veg­eta­bles to cat­tle,” says Thuli Mat­se­bula, a woman farmer who also sup­ple­ments here in­come by sell­ing other con­sumer items to fel­low farm­ers wakes up every morn­ing to till the land on the World Vi­sion as­sisted farm­land.


Mag­u­la­hamba Tembe ap­pears some­what com­pletely dis­il­lu­sioned about the fu­ture and wants to re­lo­cate to the city now that the gar­den can no longer sus­tain his fam­ily. He is giv­ing up on the hard­ships of sur­viv­ing in drought prone Lubombo re­gion, a sit­u­a­tion that has been wors­ened by the sud­den re­moval of their mar­ket in Siteki.

“It is not easy here, we use to sur­vive and send our chil­dren to school, we had fresh pro­duce from the gar­den and would ex­change for other types of food but cur­rency is al­ways the most con­ve­nient for ac­quir­ing goods and ser­vices. With­out the cash very many of us will per­ish.”

Last July when we were at Maphatsind­vuku we asked the farm­ers how their re­la­tions were with the Na­tional Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Board NAMBoard re­gar­ing the sale of their pro­duce and they ex­pressed a num­ber of mis­giv­ings in­clud­ing that of pric­ing. How­ever this time around they have also al­leged that they re­jected the NAMBoard pre­scrip­tions to their prob­lems in that they were not sup­posed to take as much as a sin­gle crop for con­sump­tion at home in any of the plots des­ig­nated for the NAMBoard bound pro­duce. How­ever they felt since they lived from hand-mouth they could not pos­si­bly plant ed­i­ble plants and not even have a taste of their labour with the buyer tak­ing ev­ery­thing for him­self with­out leav­ing “any­thing even for the chil­dren to nib­ble at.”


“As NAMBoard, we wel­come the right of choice by famers as to who to sell to, where and when fol­low­ing that this is an open mar­ket econ­omy. Ac­tu­ally we pro­mote it. In ad­vanc­ing this po­si­tion, NAMBoard is work­ing with all the mar­ket play­ers in­clud­ing the com­mu­nity mar­kets, re­tail shops, restau­rants to grow pur­chase of lo­cal pro­duce in their bas­ket of veg­eta­bles .In the past year alone over 75 per cent (6000 tons) of pro­duce of the to­tal recorded vol­umes has been bought by restau­rant re­tail shops , with the re­main­ing 25per cent moved by NAMBoard. Our mar­ket price sur­veys also show that most chain stores with branches in RSA buy veg­eta­bles at a rel­a­tively higher price lo­cally when com­pared to their part­ners in the Re­pub­lic of South Africa.”

A wheel­bar­row full of spinach at

( Pics:

WEARY: Thuli Mat­se­bula sup­ple­ments her earn­ings from veg­etable farm­ing with sell­ing gro­ceries to fel­low farm­ers at the Maphatsind­vuku gar­dens.

GREEN GOLD: Veg­eta­bles wait­ing for any price on of­fer to be eaten away, farm­ers are will­ing to ac­cept any­thing.

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