By Manqoba Makhubu | 2017-10-12
THE National Maize Corporation (NMC) has collected over 8 547 metric tons of maize from farmers as at the end of September. This represents an increase of over 6 961 metric tons from the 1 586 metric tons recorded during the previous year. This was disclosed by the corporation when responding to a questionnaire from the Business Desk. At this rate, the corporation would need to import over 21 000 metric tons of white maize since the country consumes on average 30 000 metric tons annually from NMC. This is almost in line with the corporation’s early projections. NMC projected to import at maximum 20 000 metric tons of white maize in order to meet local demand. To safeguard sustainable maize production during the current farming season, NMC Chief Executive Officer Sabelo Msibi said the corporation has currently engaged 10 extension officers to try and improve efficiency of extension trainings. “These extension officers were seconded by the ministry of agriculture. They will all be working under the farmer development section at NMC which continues to provide the necessary extension services to farmers,” he said. Msibi said through initiatives such as the National Maize Competition (NAMCOM), they would continue encouraging maize producers to produce more maize and sell their surplus to the corporation.
“The development of a production manual and the use of different media platforms to provide extension services to farmers will continue to be used more vigorously,” he said. He said they would also continue to introduce collection centres in strategic parts of the country. Msibi said these were aimed to lower logistic based costs for farmers, thereby minimising their barriers to entry into the market. “These efforts are further cemented by the introduction of farmer contracts, wherein farmers are now contracted to NMC to produce maize specifically for the organisation. This initiative is progressing well thus far,” he said. Also, Msibi said they have acquired a combine harvester as well as a super link truck, which too was aimed at easing challenges related to the logistics of farmers sending their produce to the market. The corporation currently has five depot centres distributed across the four regions of the country, where producers can deliver their produce. These storage facilities have a capacity of 23 500 metric tons. Earlier this year, the corporation also disclosed that it has identified strategic areas where new silos will be constructed starting next year at Sigangeni, where the site has already been allocated to NMC for this purpose. NMC said this project will then be replicated in other high maize production areas depending on this year’s produce. The corporation also currently has about 12 distribution centres throughout the country which include Mpaka, Lomahasha, Siphofaneni, Lubulini, A1, Lavumisa, Tshaneni, Nkambeni, Croydon, Sithobelweni, Matata and Madulini. “These distribution centres ensure that maize is accessible to all Swazis at close to their communities by making the maize price affordable considering that they do not have to travel long distances to purchase maize,” said the corporation.
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