Ekuvinjelweni building a legacy with Floppy
Swaziland is one of the biggest sugar exporters in Africa. More than 50% of its agricultural exports consist of sugar cane. Sugar projects in Swaziland range from small subsistence farmers to large commercial estates. The major estates are Mhlume, Simunye, and Ubombo Sugar. Other key operations include Tambankulu, Crookes Brothers and Big Bend.
In an effort to promote growth, the Government of Swaziland has allocated several hectares of arable land to numerous small-scale farmers as an effort to promote a climate of self-sufficiency and alleviate poverty simultaneously creating more job opportunities. These groups of farmers form part of different registered growers associations. The Ekuvinjelweni Farmers Association chaired by Nhlangano Malundusa cultivates an area of 194 hectares of sugar cane in the Maguga Host area in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The Ekuvinjelweni Farmers Association cultivate sugarcane as a high value crop as it has reasonable short and long term export prospects. An additional bonus is the closely situated Mhlume Sugar Mill, which minimizes transport problems and has the capacity to process the total crop produced in the Host area.
Sugar cane farmers are paid according to the sucrose content of their cane and higher sucrose content inadvertably results in higher income. According to Malundusa, average sucrose levels of 15 but up to 17.17 have been reported on sugar cane grown under the Floppy Sprinkler irrigation system. According to Malundusa one of the main reasons for their success lies with the Floppy Sprinkler system.
Zweli Gumedze, Supervisor of the farm is delighted with the system and states that the system uses less water and electricity than conventional irrigation systems. According to Gumedze, the cane has never looked better; it is green from top to bottom and forms a dense bush without fluctuation in growth in the different irrigation blocks.
According to Dumsani Namini, member of the association one of the obstacles the association had prior to deciding upon an irrigation system was the varying soil quality of the area. However, the Floppy Sprinkler is suitable to all types of soil and any size and shape field and could therefore be easily installed on the area.
Another advantage pointed out by Gumedze is the benefit that the system is permanent. This implies that there is no need to move the irrigation equipment around. This result in substantial labour savings.
Furthermore, the ease and simplicity of operating the system ensures that even the women can work the fields effortlessly.
It is common practise to burn sugar cane before harvesting to increase the sucrose content of the cane. The Floppy Sprinkler system allows for quick and easy removal of the riser standpipe by simple quarter turn of the riser in its quick coupling saddle. Once the riser is removed from the poly sleeve protruding from the soil it is possible to burn the cane. The pump is left running and more heat builds in the top layers of the cane, which ensures that the poly sleeves do not burn.
The association is very positive about the Floppy Sprinkler system that has resulted in high quality, healthy cane. The association ascribes their success to perseverance and good irrigation practices with a good irrigation system. Word of mouth has also spread and visitors flock to the area. It seems that the Ekuvinjelweni Farmers Association has found the recipe of success and is planting their way to a brighter future!