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Taiwan Donates to Rice Production Efforts

01 June 2011

CHINA - The Republic of China government in Taiwan has donated E35 million towards the development of a rice irrigation scheme to be established in the Hhohho region.

Ambassador Peter Tsai presented the donation to Minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini during a ceremony at the Taiwan Technical Mission in Matsapha on Friday. The funds will be used to develop a 100-hectare Hhateni Irrigation Scheme, according to the Swazi Observer.

Dlamini mentioned that the ministry had identified opportunities in rice production hence a new rice irrigation scheme in the Hhohho region would be started. He said the money would enable the ministry's officials to ensure the successful completion of the rice project and implementation.

"I further request for full participation by farmers so that the resources that have been committed to this project do not go to waste," he said. Dlamini said amongst other things, the money would be used to purchase a washing and polishing machine which would improve the marketing of rice.

He hailed the government of Taiwan for its continued support in efforts aimed at improving agricultural productivity and diversification in the country.

"As much as government has recently approved the agricultural diversification strategy, I am obliged to say that your government, through the Technical Mission, had long engaged with the ministry in crop diversification," he said.

The minister said the importance of agricultural diversification was to ensure that the country does not put its eggs in one basket such as pursuing sugar cane and maize farming. He mentioned that they wanted to engage in other crop and livestock enterprises that would widen the income base of the country in light of the prevailing economic recession.

Dlamini also explained that rice production had been done in the country since the establishment of the Taiwan Technical Mission. He said there had been some challenges with regards to the price of the produce as well as repairs and replacement of machinery and equipment.

"Some of these challenges have been addressed to some extent but there is still room for improvement," he said.

Scheme to produce 800 tonnes of rice per year

The Hhateni Irrigation Scheme is expected to increase production of rice in the Hhohho region to about 800 tonnes per year.

Republic of China on Taiwan Ambassador Peter Tsai explained that over the past decades, through joint efforts, some rice producing schemes amounting to 81 hectares were formed in the Hhohho region and the identification of the Hhateni Rice Development project would increase the total area under rice production with about 100 hectares.

Development

"The Hhateni Rice Development project will increase the total area under rice production to about 181 hectares and can produce about 800 tonnes of rice annually. We do hope that more and more farmers can grow rice in the future to meet domestic and international market demand," he said.

Tsai admitted that the Hhateni Scheme was close to his heart because it would ensure that rice production was increased in order to reduce the amount of imported rice, thus addressing the problem of food shortage in the country and subsequently strengthening the country's economy.

"I hope that in due time the project will not only concentrate on rice production but will extend to include other crops such as vegetables to further reduce the amount of food imports in the country and generate the much needed income for farmers," he said.

TheCropSite News Desk



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