MBABANE – The Eswatini Sugar Association (ESA), in collaboration with the University of Eswatini’s (UNESWA) Eswatini Institute for Research in Traditional Medicine, Medicinal and Indigenous Food Plants (EIRMIP), held the ESA/EIRMIP RESEARCH GRANT AWARD CEREMONY on Monday, 13 February 2023 at the ESA Headquarters.


The ESA-EIRMIP Research Grant totalled One Hundred and Sixty-Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Five Emalangeni (SZL 166, 785.00). As part of an ongoing research collaboration between UNESWA’s EIRMIP and ESA, the sponsorship funds will be used to support research into sugar/sugarcane value-added products.


UNESWA’s receipt of the grant from ESA was on its third year as two postgraduate students have previously benefited from it as part of their master’s degree dissertation study on sugar or sugarcane, to manufacture value-added products. The University is proud and grateful to work with an industrial partner like ESA, who recognises the value of local innovations in driving economic growth.


Collen Bhekuyise Hlandze, a student in the Department of Chemistry pursuing his Master of Science in Chemistry, received a Grant award of SZL142, 885 (One Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Five Emalangeni) from ESA in the current academic year – 2022/23. The title of Hlanze’s dissertation would be “Production of Xylitol from Sugarcane Straw Hemicellulosic Hydrolysate Utilising Candida”.


In congratulating Hlandze, the Vice Chancellor Prof. J.M. Thwala said, “This is your first step towards a brighter future. Therefore use this chance wisely so that it can open additional doors for you.”


Previously, ESA awarded SZL 265,680 to two other beneficiaries; Gcinile Mkoko and Crispin Gomes.  They received SZL 126,900 and SZL 136,080, respectively. Since establishment of the partnership, ESA has awarded a total of SZL 432,465, including grant for the current year. Gcinile Mkoko investigated the production of a low-sugar carbonated lemon-ginger beverage using burnt and fresh sugarcane juice.


Crispin Gomes, an outgoing recipient, would additionally receive a supplementary budget of SZL 23,900 (Twenty-Three Thousand, Nine Hundred Emalangeni). Crispin is now finalizing his research on the “Production of Polylactic acid polymers from sugarcane juice by batch fermentation”.


“I would like to reaffirm ESA’s commitment to a long-term relationship with the University,” said ESA CEO Banele Nyamane in his closing remarks. He went on to say that they were a proud partner, that believed entirely on what the institution stood for and its tireless pursuit of excellence.


The Partnership between ESA and UNESWA

The collaboration between ESA and UNESWA has been ongoing for a long time but was formalized through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in June 2020. The Parties agreed to collaborate on three primary areas of concentration through the MOU:

  • Facilitate and establish a relationship between the two institutions;
  • Promote the provision of services by UNESWA to ESA, through its various departments, including EIRMIP; and
  • Facilitate other collaborative initiatives beneficial to both partners.