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ESWATINI GETS OVER E34M GRANT FOR TAVI PROJECT

By Qondile Ntiwane | 2021-10-18

Eswatini will receive over E34 million for the implementation of the Taiwan-Africa Vegetable Initiative (TAVI) in the kingdom. The Eswatini government, through the ministry of agriculture and the World Vegetable Centre received a grant of US$6.3 million E 93 253 797 from the Taiwan council of Agriculture (COA) and Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs to implement the TAVI project, with US$ 2.3million E34 045 037 solely for Eswatini.

The Taiwan-Africa Vegetable Initiative (TAVI) in Eswatini will involve the upgrading the Seed Genebank of our National Plant Genetic Resources Centre at Malkerns. This will allow larger collections of different crops, including traditional vegetables that will be collected from around the country to be housed by the infrastructure.

The three yearTAVI project, a collaborative project being implemented by the Government of Eswatini and the World Vegetable Center project seeks to safeguard vegetable biodiversity for food and nutrition. TAVI also aims to rescue and conserve the genetic resources of traditional Africa vegetables through germplasm collection of at least 4 800 land acres and crop wild relatives from 25 species in four hot spots of vegetable biodiversity in Africa.

Making his remarks during the launch of the project at Esibayeni Lodge on Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza said he was hopeful that by the end of the project, Eswatini would have a state-of-the-art genebank facility that would ably conserve and safeguard all the traditional vegetable landraces from the four African biodiversity hotspots, namely the Kingdom of Eswatini, Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania.

The minister commended the World Vegetable Centre Team for working with the Ministry in developing such a much needed and relevant project proposal. “TAVI came at a time when the Government of Eswatini through the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Education and Training and other partners (the World Food Programme and FAO) were collaboratively piloting and implementing the Home Grown School Feeding Programme to support the National School Feeding Programme.

“Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected our efforts due to the subsequent lockdowns and prolonged closure of schools there is light at the end of the tunnel. Initiative He said another close initiative that ensured local food security and availability was the “Asidle Kwetfu” initiative – meaning, “Let’s eat what we produce”.

This is an initiative aimed at encouraging every household to produce its own food using locally available resources. “ I have no doubt, therefore, that the TAVI project is what Eswatini needed in order to complement these on-going national programmes and to ensure that hunger and malnutrition is eradicated both at home and at school through ensuring access to improved seeds of nutritious and healthy traditional vegetables,” he said.

He said he was happy to learn that the implementation of the project had already commenced and that as a country were looking forward to its successful implementation jointly with other public and private institutions working in the vegetable space. “As you have already heard the overall objective of this project is to safeguard vegetable biodiversity for food and nutrition; it is therefore clear that TAVI echoes my Ministry’s Strategic Plan 2018-2023 which seeks to optimise utilisation of agricultural resources to create wealth for Emaswati, and to transform Agriculture into a modernized, sustainable, diversified production and export-oriented sector that contributes to improved food security,

export revenue generation, job creation and overall economic development,” he said The minister said he was also pleased to announce that the ministry and the World Vegetable Center had already signed a Project Agreement to ensure that required operating environment including skilled personnel are in place to facilitate successful implementation of the project activities and achievement of its key deliverables “On behalf of the government of Eswatini, and all participating countries, and on my own behalf, let me once again express our profound gratitude to the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for the financial support extended for this initiative, and the World Vegetable Centre for having selected our countries to participate in this very important TAVI project. “More importantly, I wish to thank the Project Task Team that worked hard to ensure that this day becomes a success. It is now my singular honour to declare the TAVI Project officially launched in all project sites;

Eswatini, Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania. The launch was attended, by among others, the Ambassador of the Republic of China Taiwan’s representative Board Member for World Vegetable Center – Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, the Regional Director for the World Vegetable Centre, Eastern and Southern Africa Office – Dr Gabriel Rugalema, as well as TAVI partners from Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania.

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