In order to promote sustainable livelihoods, the program focused on food security and economic growth. The agricultural component of the project centered on conservation farming, in which we built on the capacities of local farmers while adding in knowledge of new agricultural techniques.
In order to ensure food security, as well diet diversification, the program focused on vegetable, maize, and cassava production. However, in the province of Niassa, many farmers are losing interest in cassava production, since the local variety is vulnerable to pests and disease. Our program therefore introduced an improved cassava variety which is more resistant to pests and hardy enough to withstand prolonged periods of water shortage. Twenty two experimental and propagation plots in the towns of Cobue, Lunho, and Mecanhelas allowed us to share new techniques with many cassava farmers in the province.
The success of these plots is best told by lead farmer, Tereza Jose. Forty-two years old and a mother of 7, Tereza has been a farmer for years. She and her husband live in the community of Chissua, in the district of Mecanhelas.
“I was trusted by my community to be a lead farmer and run the experimental and propagation plot on cassava. Being a woman, it was quite a challenging and unique experience because few women are able to get those positions. That came with a huge responsibility looking at the reality in cassava production lately – poor productivity and low quality product. I also knew that, in the future, community members would rely on me for technology transfer and cassava stem supply.
"With a local variety of cassava and traditional techniques, the crops grew slowly with no quality due to various pests and lack of rain. The spiritual and technical support we got from the field extension officer on planting, spacing, and the intercropping of cassava with cowpea or other beans helped us to overcome doubt and carry out our work with joy and confidence.
"We are now all enthusiastic about the improved variety as well as the new farming techniques. The new cassava variety is stronger and more resistant to pests and long periods of water shortage. The crop at the experimental plot is growing well and it is really encouraging. The way I look at it, we can easily foresee a good harvest with enough stems for three half-hectare plots. We have already identified the three farmers that we will share the stems with.
"I look forward to teaching my children and my neighbors. I also pray that more people in this community and other communities adopt those techniques and practices.”
World Renew Mozambique