AWARENESS, SOURCES AND CHALLENGES FACED BY CASSAVA PRODUCERS IN ESWATINI
Food shortage has been a problem in Swaziland (now Eswatini) due to many factors not limited food base. A study on cassava production in Eswatini was conducted to determine awareness of producers and non-producers, sources of awareness of cassava cultivation and challenges faced in cassava cultivation. Systematic random sampling technique was used to select 441 respondents consisting of 195 cassava producers and 246 non-producers. A valid and reliable (r=.89) questionnaire was used to collect data. Findings of the study revealed that both cassava producers and non-producers were aware of cassava cultivation but one non-producer claimed not to be aware. The major sources of information included: other farmers, neighbours and friends, radio, Extension agents from NGOs and Government Extension Agents. Cassava producers encountered many challenges in cassava cultivation mainly: harvesting energy demand, pest infestation (cassava mosaic, mealy bug and caterpillars), non-availability of planting material, mechanization of planting, non-availability of market, burrowing animals eat tubers, and bacterial blight disease. The conclusion was that producers including nonproducers were aware of cassava production mainly through informal sources and less from Government Extension agents. It was recommended that Government Extension Agents should strengthen their educational effort to educate farmers in order to address some of the challenges and motivate them to engage in cassava production and change their attitude towards cassava cultivation.