Businesses in Swaziland have been somewhat cushioned against the impact of world trade liberation and least as far as home and regional markets are concerned (Ministry of Enterprise and Employment, 2005: 18). The country's position with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) affords temporary protection against the competition felt by economies elsewhere in Africa. Furthermore, with limited domestic markets, export-oriented industries are the backbone of Swaziland's economy (Thompson, 2010:19). Trade vibrancy caused by globalisation, health standards requirements and other factors has started affecting export industries. It is therefore, important that the businesses in Swaziland prepare for more intense competition in the future. This could be achieved through improved management and improved productivity which would then enhance competitiveness. The decrease of foreign direct investment in the agricultural sector, the removal of trade preferences among top export industries (sugar, textile), decrease in demand for export products (as a result of economic downturn), indicates that there is a problem of competitiveness in the Swaziland agribusiness sector. Therefore, the objectives of the study are; to determine the constraining and enhancing factors of competitiveness of the agribusiness sector of Swaziland and to develop the strategies to improve competitiveness of the sector. A structured questionnaire adapted from the Agricultural Business Chambers (ABC) of South Africa was used to collect the data through face-to-face interviews. Porter's (1998) theory for the determinant of competitive advantage was used as a base in designing the questionnaire in order to capture the constraining and enhancing factors influencing competitive advantage. The target group comprised decisionmakers (chief executive, managing directors) for agribusiness firms, including in the following industries: dairy, sugar, animal feed, maize, livestock and poultry, textile. The data was analysed using the statistical package for social science (SPSS) and was presented in tableau and figure format. The scale of classification used when analysing the determinants of competitiveness was; a mean score of 1 meant constraining competitiveness success; a mean score of 3 meant moderate effect and a mean score of 5 meant enhancing competitiveness success. Most of the determinants [factor (2.72), demand (2.64), related and supporting industries (2.29), chance (2.46) and government conditions (2.48)] were constraining competitiveness. The top three factors contributing to this are: unavailability of professional labour (1.63), costs of inputs and supplies (1.69), incompetent (1.69) and ineffective public sector personnel (1.88) and small local market size (1.88). The only determinant that has the ability to enhance competitiveness is the firm's strategy, structure and rivalry conditions, as indicated by a moderate mean score of 3.38. The top three factors enhancing competitiveness success of the agribusiness sector are; production of high quality affordable products (4.19), availability of water for production and processing purposes (4.00), and the cost of unskilled or semiskilled labour (3.94). The Porter analysis indicated that the competitive environment in which the sector operates in is unfavourable and does not enhance competitiveness. An analysis of the interviewed industries revealed that the overall performance of each industry, particularly the sugar, dairy and maize industries are moderately competitive compared to the other ones. This is supported by the finding that these industries have three determinants of comparative advantage enhancing competitiveness. Special attention, through implementation of strategies to enhance the competitiveness of the agribusiness sector is necessary. This could be achieved though collaboration and intervention by all participants in the sector. The strategies are explained in terms of roles that could be played by the agribusinesses and the government. Strategies involve; industry coordination to minimise costs, market orientation strategy, HIV/AIDS services at company level, encouraging sustainable investments, products diversification and promoting internship and graduate training programmes. Copyright
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2012.