Stories tagged: mozambique

Actions in Africa Preventing Food Loss and Waste

Ending hunger and ending food waste are both central to the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union’s AGENDA 2063 and the Malabo Declaration/AU regional priorities. The good news is we can tackle both simultaneously, argues Talentus Mthunzi from the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).

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#FillTheGap! Making queens in Mozambique

This is the second post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture.

For Mozambican women who dream of building a business from the fields up, they are often thwarted at the first furrow: women account for just a quarter of official land owners.

Josefina dos Santos Lourenço had aspirations of owning her own business but she wasn’t even earning enough selling food at her small market stand to support her family. Though she believed in herself, she couldn’t find a way to put her talents to use increasing her income.

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The Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor Project

Launched in early 2009 at the World Economic Forum, the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor is a project based in Mozambique that seeks to stimulate a major increase in agricultural production in an area whose growth potential has not yet been realised. The Beira Corridor has 10 million hectares of arable land with good soils, good climate and reliable access to water, but despite the promising conditions, very little commercial agriculture is practised.

The Beira Corridor project aims at drawing smallholder farmers out of the cycle of subsistence farming by providing the infrastructure, finance and training needed to improve their productivity.  The project has followed a cluster approach whereby agriculture is developed around existing infrastructure, which provides easy access to electricity and water supplies, for irrigation, and road and rail networks for access to markets.

The initiative is a joint scheme between various public and private sector organisations in the international community, including the Government of Mozambique. It was set up by Yara, who recognised the huge potential of the Beira Corridor as a key contributor to achieving food security. The project’s goal is to establish the corridor as a major agricultural producing and processing region over the next 20 years.

The Beira project will help to realise the agricultural potential of the region, with significant benefits for farmers and local communities. As a case study, this kind of project could be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in Africa and other parts of the developing world, to make best use of arable land, helping farmers improve their livelihoods and produce a secure food supply for their communities.

Mozambican Farming Cooperative for Women Shares Knowledge, Builds Local Access and Capacity

In the past, Celina Cossa would queue for days and even nights just to get the chance to buy a bag of maize to feed her two children, her husband, and herself.  She was one of thousands of Mozambican women finding it difficult to feed her family in a country that was newly independent from its Portuguese colonisers and in the midst of a civil war.  Food shortages in Mozambique in the 1980s were a norm, and many – especially women – were extremely poor.

In response, Cossa, along with 250 other women, began growing crops and raising poultry together. With limited funds at first, many of the women would bring their own agricultural tools and money to support the project.

The women sold the excess and created a business that now has about 2,900 mostly women farmers. And as the numbers grew, they expanded the reach of their operation to begin helping others get credit to start their own businesses.

Now called the General Union of Cooperatives (UGC), this Mozambican network of women farmers is still led by Cossa.  UGC gives them technical training, literacy education, as well as services such as childcare.  Members now supply much of the capital’s vegetables, fruits, and poultry with members making on average 50 per cent more than the national minimum wage.

Now the cooperative also helps women farmers get loans to start and run their businesses, assists with giving them expert advice on how to begin farming and helps them sell their produce at markets. To date, the farmers produce eight thousand chickens per month and are supplying the local markets with their products.

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This post was adapted from an article written by African journalists Menesia Muinjo and Geline Fuko, who took part in a journalist training session coordinated by IPS.

A Closer Look at Mozambique’s Agricultural Production System

In Mozambique, differences in rainfall contribute to higher levels of poverty in drier areas.

Poverty levels in drier regions of the country range from 67 to 85 percent, said Professor Firmino Mucavele, Director for Academic Reform and Regional Integration at Eduardo Mondlane University in a presentation of his analysis of agriculture’s true contribution to the Mozambican economy.

Mucavele, a Food Agriculture Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) board member, outlined regional disparities within Mozambique, whose north and eastern districts receive as much as twelve times the amount of rainfall as the southern regions surrounding the Maputo capital.

Crop productivity is also connected to rainfall since irrigation infrastructure in the country is effectively non-existent. Of the 3.3 million hectares suitable for irrigation throughout the country, only fifty thousand hectares (or only a miniscule 0.13 percent) have this resource at their disposal.  Mucavele said:

The common denominator of the smallholder farmers is low productivity, limited ability of households to generate savings and food insecurity.

He added that access to key inputs is also low; only 2 percent of farmers use fertilisers and only 5 percent use pesticides. Underdeveloped capital markets and harvest losses averaging 40 percent also contribute to decreased productivity.

To boost the contribution of the agricultural sector, Mucavele made several key recommendations. He highlighted that the uptake of improved seeds and better production methods could boost crop yields; the yields from maize, which is Mozambique’s primary crop by volume, could be increased seven-fold, from 800 kilograms per hectare to as much as 6,500.  He also pointed out that introducing value-added processes to raw commodities could also boost export earnings, with milled maize fetching five times the price of whole kernels.

Lastly, a concerted effort to reform and support agricultural markets caould stem disruptive variations in crop prices and ensure Mozambique’s farmers a viable source of livelihoods.

Cautioned Mucavele: “Social, environmental and institutional stability depends on food security.”