By Samkelisiwe Khoza | 2018-12-06
IT is good news for local cross border mealie meal purchasers as they are now allowed to buy mealie meal from South Africa.
The National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMboard) Chief Executive Officer Siphephiso Dlamini said locals can now purchase mealie meal with only a ceiling restriction of 20kg per purchase. He added that this authorisation applies to returning citizens.
He clarified that they were not encouraging people to migrate and head for South Africa to purchase mealie meal.
The CEO further highlighted that maize and mealie meal prices had been decreased and it almost matched that of SA.
He said the National Maize Corporation (NMC) and other maize and mealie meal producers agreed on the declining of prices.
Dlamini added that NMC agreed to decrease maize price from E3 400 to E3 000 per tonne.
“Maize and mealie meal prices decline will allow levelled and affordable grounds for Swazis. Travelling to South Africa to buy mealie meal now is basically wasteful as prices are now almost levelled,” Dlamini said.
He said they checked on a weekly basis and compared Eswatini and South Africa’s mealie meal prices, 10 kilogrammes in South Africa is E49, whilst the price stands at E59 in the country.
Dlamini said the price difference was rather reasonable. He added that the country’s production levels varied and that big countries produced excessively as compared to a small country like Eswatini, which then determined the cost price.
He said returnees should register and declare the purchased mealie meal to the Customs department by the border gates.
Dlamini added that informal crossers would not be allowed to cross with the mealie meal as it is required that they keep records of the quantities and numbers of people and purchasing figures.
“This permission applies only to returnees who will formally use border gates to gain entry to the country,” he said.
Dlamini discouraged the nation from abusing the purchasing permit. He said the way Swazis went about the permit now would determine whether cross border mealie meal purchasing is fully granted or not.
“Purchasing mealie meal from South Africa is not a business; we sternly discourage the nation from purchasing excessive kilogrammes of mealie meal from neighbouring countries for business purposes,” he said.
The Swaziland National Agricultural Union says the cross border mealie meal purchasing could be a relief but very questionable, nonetheless.
The Union’s Chairman under LaMgabhi constituency Uriah ‘Ntsini’ Mabuza said the decision was never confirmed with the country’s farmers. He said farmers were never considered when making the decision to reopen cross border mealie meal purchasing.
“Who will buy our produce if Swazis are granted back the permission to purchase mealie meal from South Africa? First, the government crippled us and decreased the price of our mealie meal and maize.
“This is simply substitution by elimination and it is a pity that the consumers are being forced to the centre,” Mabuza said.
He said government was oppressing farmers using consumers. Mabuza mentioned that no consumer would buy their produce now.
On the same note, Eastern Southern Africa’s Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Chairman Ntombikayise Fakudze said there should be policies that protect farmers from such decisions. She said their products were rotting in tanks as Swazis regard them as expensive and they would instantly fly to South Africa for the cheaper mealie meal.
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