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).
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.
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.
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.