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MBABANE – Economists says emaSwati may be sustained by their subsistence farming amid soaring food prices.  

South African media outlets have reported that about 2.1 million families go hungry as food inflation hammers the poor. It was reported that this was due to the current inflation rate of 11.3 per cent pushing up food prices exponentially. It was also reported that unemployment, poverty and load-shedding have added to the higher inflation challenge for vulnerable South Africans.


Against this backdrop, local Economist Sanele Sibiya said it was not disputed that whatever was happening in South Africa was affecting Eswatini as well. He said, however, on the issues of food security, emaSwati may be spared for a bit as most emaSwati lived in the rural areas where subsistence farming was widely practiced. Sibiya noted that even those staying in the urban areas had a back-up system in their homes in the rural areas. He highlighted that most emaSwati had just completed harvesting hence they may have some grains to sustain them for a couple of months until the next harvesting season. He noted that the elapsed summer was rainy, hence the harvest might have been better this year. The economists stated that the only threat to food security locally was the expected El Nino. The likelihood of El Niño developing later this year is increasing, according to a new update from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).


There is a 60 per cent chance for a transition from ENSO-neutral to El Niño during May-July 2023, and this will increase to about 70 per cent in June-August and 80 per cent between July and September, according to the update, which is based on input from WMO Global Producing Centres of Long-Range Forecasts and expert assessment.Moreover, the effects of the crisis in Ukraine and the subsequent rise in prices of basic commodities. such as fuel and food contributed to a sluggish economy, rising unemployment and low levels of private investment.
Eswatini  is ranked 73 out of 121 in the 2022 Global Hunger Index, which is deterioration when compared to 69 out of 116 in 2021, with the level of hunger classified as moderate.