Swaziland — As the economy has been witnessing a decline in the last five years,government and the private sector have been challenged to work collaborativelyin reviving it through sustaining existing industries.
Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives Mtiti Fakudze noted that what wascompounding the national economy decline were the threats of wild veld andforest fires, weeds, presents and entomological diseases faced by the forestryindustry.
This has adverse effects on the industrys economic performance andcontinued contribution to national economy, the minister stated.
He said the forestry industry contributed about 20 percent to the nationaleconomy and was the largest employer after the sugar industry, comprising ofabout 10 000 employees which includes direct and indirect employment.
The minister was speaking at Mhlambanystsi main club on Wednesday afternoonduring the Sappi/Usutu annual pre-fire season meeting.
It is greatly regrettable that the country finds itself having to grapplewith the serious problem of invasive weed species which are extremely difficultto control with the limited financial resources at our disposal. Among thenotorious weeds is chromolaena odorata (sandanezwe) which has already beendeclared a national disaster and some work to put it under control is alreadyunderway through the outsourcing of the bush clearing work to contractors whichbegan late 2006.
Other weed species include; bugweed (gwayana), lantana (bukhwebeletane),ginger lilly, bramble, lugagane and many other species that the country has tocontrol as well as manage to reduce their adverse effects on the environment,peoples livelihoods and national economy.
Meanwhile, the minister noted that the forest industry has also been infestedwith serious pests, notably, the sirex wasp which poses a threat to theindustrys existence.
This insect further causes entomological diseases which are very difficultto control.
Government, through the ministry of agriculture and Sappi Usutu, commenced aprogramme of sensitising and educating the public as well as communities aboutthe adverse effects of uncontrolled wild veld fires since 1998.