SEATTLE — More than 80 percent of Mozambique’s population earns its livelihood from agriculture. Despite the country’s farming potential, sustainable agriculture in Mozambique remains a challenge due to weather-related issues. The widespread use of traditional farming methods, low-yield seed varieties and lack of technical assistance are a few of many factors contributing to this problem. However, efforts are being made to help Mozambique’s people sustain their agricultural livelihood.
In March 2015, the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved an International Development Association credit in the amount of $50 million. The money will provide Mozambique with better access to food, nutrition and promote the country’s market-based agriculture. The World Bank also plans to help Mozambique improve its agricultural technology and enhance the country’s access to financial services.
In February 2016, USAID awarded $1.7 million toward a Mozambique training program that could benefit 600,000 farmers. Additionally, a project known as e-Extensão would use communication technologies such as radio programs and cell phones to disseminate key food security information. Using communication technology for agricultural training purposes will allow the information to reach the country’s broader population. With e-Extensão reaching farmers in such diverse ways, 180,000 farmers could apply improved technologies on 60,000 hectares of land in the next three years.
In February 2017, the World Bank promised to finance “Sustenta,” a Mozambican government program designed to encourage agricultural production by small farmers. “The program could benefit over 700,000 people,” says Celso Correia, Mozambique’s Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development. Correia also said that access to finance in the amount of $224 million will grow the incomes of the country’s rural families, increase agricultural yields and provide farmers with better access to markets. The project also aims to restore infrastructures that are necessary for sustainable agriculture in Mozambique.
In March 2017, the company FinAgro completed four years of work in Mozambique’s agricultural sector and plans for the country’s agricultural livelihood to continue growing. FinAgro’s work also helped Mozambican companies purchase processing equipment, tractors, warehouses and other agricultural materials. The companies plan to hire 518 new employees, generate an additional $3.5 million for Mozambique’s rural economy and expect business revenues to increase by 67 percent. “Several hundred smallholder farmers in the area are now able to sell us their mangoes and bananas at fair prices,” says Jonathan Litscher, owner of Global Farmers Market.
In July 2017, farmers and agribusinesses across Mozambique’s Chimoio district celebrated the opening of the Casa do Agricultor (“Farmer’s House”). The new store will provide farmers with a variety of products that will help increase the country’s agricultural productivity. The Casa do Agricultor could potentially make “smallholders more efficient and more productive while creating a sustainable market for commercial agricultural purposes in the country,” says USAID agriculture official Kenneth Hasson.
USAID also plans for its Feed the Future program to improve agricultural development throughout various Mozambique provinces including Zambézia, Nampula, Tete and Manica. USAID intends for the program to provide Mozambican farmers with improved technologies, food security and income. More than 700 seeds could be made available to seed producers, 10,000 tons of seed to farmers through partnerships with seed companies and training sessions to at least 10,200 farmers, seed inspectors and extension agents.
Ensuring sustainable agriculture in Mozambique will continue to be a work in progress for the World Bank, FinAgro and USAID. However, the present work being done by these entities can improve Mozambicans’ chances of maintaining their agricultural livelihood. Transitioning the country’s agricultural business from family-owned to commercial will be a crucial step in better sustaining the country’s farming and food processing.
– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar