Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences (Jan 2017)

An assessment of Swaziland sugarcane farmer associations’ vulnerability to climate change

  • Bon’sile Faith Nicollete Mhlanga-Ndlovu,
  • Godwell Nhamo

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
pp. 39 – 57


Read online

The study investigated the vulnerability of Swaziland’s sugarcane small scale farmer associations (SSFAs) to climate change through the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework. From a survey of 45 SSFAs, representing +2700 farmers, drought emerged as the most significant stress. Droughts result in failed cane germination, increased pests and increased diseases. Farmers indicated that there had no land title deeds and were concerned about the poor state of infield and feeder roads damaged during heavy rainfall and floods. It emerged that the bulk of the SSFAs irrigate during the day, a scenario that leaves them vulnerable to high temperatures leading to high evapotranspiration. In addition, 97% of the SSFAs sampled did not have drought preparedness plans and likewise, all did not have a flood management plan. About 76% of SSFAs operation costs goes to crop upkeep and harvesting, with labour cost increases attributed to extreme weather events. All sampled SSFAs had no insurance against loss from extreme weather events. Given the foregone, the paper recommends that the government fast tracks the 1999 Draft Land Policy intended to address the issue of title deeds. The paper further suggest that extension officers and farmers be trained to sharpen skills on understanding climate change.