Swaziland - Agriculture

Agriculture's share of the GDP fluctuates with the fortunes of the harvest, accounting for 10 percent of the GDP in 2000, 13 percent in 1998, and 11 percent in 1994. The chief products are sugar, wood pulp, maize, citrus, and pineapples. About 44 percent of land is held on a free-hold basis (that is, the ownership is for an indefinite period in which the owner is free to buy and sell the land), mainly by non-Swazis. Large estates controlled mainly by Europeans produce the sugar, citrus fruits, and forestry products that dominate exports. The remainder of the land, known as Swazi Nation Land (SNL), is farmed on a small-scale by 70 percent of the population, in many cases on a part-time basis. The land is held in trust by the king. All Swazis are entitled to land, which is allocated by the chiefs according to traditional procedures.

Sugar used to be the mainstay of the economy until it was overtaken by fruit concentrates. However, it remains the country's largest source of employment. Maize, the country's staple food, and cotton are the main products of SNL farmers. Large-scale cotton production is being introduced as the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation begins to diversify into this crop. Oranges and grapefruit are grown for export on large estates, mainly controlled by Europeans, and mainly in the Low-Veld area.

Unbleached wood pulp is 1 of Swaziland's main export earners. Plantations cover 6 percent of the country, mainly in the High-Veld. Nearly two-thirds of this is made up of Usutu forest, one of the largest man-made forests in the world. The Usutu forest consists mainly of pine and eucalyptus and alone provides about 12 percent of the world supply of wood pulp. The Usutu pulp company is the country's largest employer. Indigenous industry produces mining and construction timber and furniture from local wood, some of which is exported.

Cattle are the traditional sign of wealth, and 80 percent of the cattle population remains in the hands of Swazi smallholders . The traditional nature of cattle raising has led to the slow development of the meat industry, as there is a strong resistance to offering cattle for slaughter. Domestic milk production is increasing and beef, tinned and frozen, is exported to the EU and South Africa.

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