Young poultry farmers in Swaziland are the target of a comprehensive effort by the government and FAO with support of the European Union (EU) to reverse the country's declining agricultural productivity.
Since 2009, the EU has been supporting a wide-ranging initiative of the government and FAO to raise nutrition levels of the rural population and stimulate their economic growth potential, known as the Swaziland Agricultural Development Project (SADP), a 5-years programme funded with over €14 million of EU and almost €350 000 by FAO.
To support the younger generation, SADP is helping youth groups set up small agricultural businesses. Sixty groups, comprising around 2 500 youngsters, are engaged in poultry farming, pig production or vegetable and field crop production. They get the equipment, tools, inputs, medicines and training to make their business run.
The Mhawu Youth Club from the Ngudzine area in southern Swaziland is raising chickens. Sixteen year old member Nomcebo Simelane finds a lot of encouragement at her club: "Your peers tell you that when you want to make your dreams come true, you should just hold on."
Moreover, the poultry business offers her a way to do just that. She hopes that she will make enough money out of it to go to university and become a nurse.
Fundamentally, SADP is all about smallholders, says Nehru Essomba, the project's Chief Technical Advisor: "You cannot tackle rural poverty, if you don't put the smallholder farmers first."