However, and despite the country's huge agricultural potential, the average production levels remain very low and are extremely vulnerable to weather related changes. This is largely due to the widespread use of traditional farming methods, low-yield seed varieties and lack of agricultural inputs, technical assistance, infrastructures and access to markets.
As a result, agriculture in Mozambique consists predominately of subsistence farming (80%) and only rarely becomes an economically viable option for extra income. This, in turn, perpetuates the vicious circle of poverty in the rural areas and results in the country's food security remaining highly volatile.
It is in this context that ADPP Mozambique has elaborated programs that aim to empower small and medium farmers: namely, the Farmers' Clubs and the Cashew and Rural Development Centre of Itoculo. In line with the Government of Mozambique's Strategic Agricultural Plan (PEDSA) 2011-2020, the objective of these programs is to contribute to the transformation of agriculture into a competitive and sustainable sector that increases the overall food security in the country and raises the incomes of rural households in Mozambique.
Transforming Lives Through Farmers’ Clubs
The ADPP Farmers’ Club Program was first launched in Mozambique in 2006. Its mission is to increase food security and household income among rural populations by organizing smallholder farmers into clubs, training them in efficient and sustainable conservation farming techniques, enhancing their access to well managed water resources and improving their access to local and regional markets through increased market linkages and training in commercialization of their products, pricing and marketing. By doing so, it provides small-scale farmers with the means to transform their own lives.
The beneficiary farmers have been successful in increasing and diversifying their crop yields, enhancing access to low-cost irrigation, improving their nutrition, and in creating significant extra income. This has led to doubling the area of cultivated land and tripling the farmers’ household income over time.
Since the beginning of the Program in 2006, the Farmers’ Club Program has benefitted over 31,046 farmers in 7 different provinces and reached altogether 240,000 people in these areas. Today, the Farmers’ Clubs are an integral part of the Sector Wide Approach for Agriculture in Mozambique.
The Importance of Joining Forces
The objective of the Clubs is to demonstrate the important advantages of being organized into associations: in addition to offering peer support, they provide an access to new information through training, new farming supplies and equipment through co-sharing, better negotiation power in the markets through joint sales activities and, eventually, to external funds and other financial resources. The idea of the Clubs is not to be a rigid structure but an open forum for learning, cooperation and mutual support. In this way, they provide a practice-based and change-driven tool for the sustainable growth of the rural communities.
Each Farmers’ Club has 25-50 members and a Farmers’ Club Committee, which is composed of 5 local farmers, both men and women, who are trained in the management and planning of the clubs and in taking the responsibility of the long-term continuation of the Program. Each group of 5 Farmers’ Clubs is supported by a Farming Instructor a specially trained extension agent that works and lives in the community where the program is implemented.
Holistic Approach to Sustainable Farming and community development
The objective of the training given in the Farmers’ Clubs is to provide the farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge to adopt various sustainable farming techniques, including Conservation Agriculture, use of composts, green manure cover crops, bio-pesticides, use of improved seeds, crops diversification with sequential production, tuberculous, cash crops and vegetables, establishment of seed banks and introduction of permanent planting holes, mulching, crop rotation and intercropping. Other components are installation of water pumps, construction of rainwater harvesting systems with construction of small water catching dams and irrigation systems, accompanied by training of the farmers in sustainable water management and irrigation. Animal husbandry is promoted and pas on animal systems are initiated. All techniques are put into practice in the demonstration fields in order to ensure sustainable learning results. Besides this the farmers are trained in improvement of household storing facilities and small scale processing of agriculture products, how to make year production plans and marketing. Contacts are made to agro companies and markets for purchase of the products. Access to micro finance is established and systems for organizing the farmers in saving groups promoted.
The Farmers’ Club Program also includes interventions in the crosscutting areas of health, literacy, gender and human and land rights, improving thus the wellbeing of entire communities.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment.
CA principles are universally applicable to all agricultural landscapes and land uses with locally adapted practices. CA enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground surface. Soil interventions such as mechanical soil disturbance are reduced to an absolute minimum or avoided.
Farmers are being trained in Conservation Agriculture through demonstration plots where the techniques are being applied. This involve making of compost and use the compost manure to fertilize horticulture crops, intercropping of crops with legume crops like groundnuts, pigeon pea and cowpeas.
Farmers are being encouraged to adopt CA as an alternative method to cut and burn as they now can produce in one field and reduce the need to open new fields. This will reduce labor and farmers have more time to work on other activities.
The introduction of conservation farming methods are improving the production of healthy farming products, increased income for the farmers and improvement of the soil quality.
Climate Change Mitigation
The farmers are also trained in climate change issues as a ways to strengthen their capacities in mitigating and adapting to the negative effects of global warming and ensuring food security in the future.
Agroforestry is promoted in the clubs and nitrogen fixing, fodder, firewood, shadow, fruit, bamboo, indigenous and moringa trees are produced and planted by the communities. The trees are planted in connection with the households, farmer’s fields and in surrounding areas.
The tree planting component combined with construction of small scale water harvesting systems and dams are fundamental for rain water catching and water circulation and will in the longer run improve the ground water level, vegetation and rainfall in the area.
The project is sensitizing the farmers on effects of Climate Changes and mitigation ways through promoting tree planting and discouraging deforestation and burning of crop residues. The project is working with IIAM research station to introduce drought and flood tolerant varieties. The project has trained farmers to construct and use firewood saving stoves as this will reduce tree cutting and save time for women and children from fetching firewood and concentrate on crop production.
Cashew and Rural Development Centre of Itoculo
The Cashew and Rural Development Centre of Itoculo, located in Nampula province, was first launched in 1996.
Since the beginning, its objective has been twofold: 1) to increase the livelihoods of local small-scale farmers through training them in sustainable farming techniques, particular in cashew cultivation, production and related agro-processing, and secondly, 2) to contribute to the overall wellbeing of the local communities through various activities promoting education, health and hygiene, including constructing and rehabilitating water systems, building latrines and establishing pre-schools.
The Center consists of the Training Centre facilities, a 110-hectare cashew plantation, a cashew processing unit and a chestnut and cashew juice factory. The Program is also supporting the running of pre-schools in the surrounding communities.
In addition to providing a venue and demonstration fields for the various trainings, the Center also has its own cashew production. The cashew nuts and juice produced from the cashew fruit (the cashew apple) are sold on the local markets.
Please download the pdf file on Farmers Clubs Capacity Statement for more information.