Mozambique: UN agencies combine efforts to help farmers

WFP, FAO, IFAD and UN Women are working closely together in Mozambique, one of the countries in the UN “Delivering as One” pilot. P4P in Mozambique has been implemented under a joint UN programme called “Building Commodity Value Chains and Market Linkages for Farmers’ Associations”.

This joint programme was coordinated by WFP and planned and executed at country level together with FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). Over 11,000 farming families have been reached until the joint programme ended in December 2011. The UN agencies in Mozambique are currently looking into developing a new Joint Programme along the same lines.

For farmers like Etalvinha, the programme had many benefits. She lives in the north of Mozambique’s Zambezia Province with her three children. Etalvinha has been growing maize, beans and cassava since she was 14. Her husband works in a mechanical plant in Nampula, but he does not earn enough to ensure the family has food throughout the year.

Raising productivity

Her farmers’ organisation in Alto Molocue was one of fourteen engaged in the joint programme that combined the UN agencies’ efforts: “I attended a training held by FAO in March 2010. We were mostly women and even though we felt we knew a lot about farming, we felt it’s always fun to learn. The training showed us how to sow our seeds differently, how to irrigate the crops and how to ensure the quality of the seeds. The trainers also came to the village to show us how to lay out our crops and how to inter-change the crops to make sure the soil is kept rich,” says Etalvinha. 

The farmers were also trained to increase the quality of their commodity with special cleaning techniques available at their homes. “Before I used to get a low price for my maize because they told me not all was good quality, so it all had to be sold at a bad price. Now I am able to separate the grains and get better prices for better grades of maize.”

Credit for production and commercialisation

IFAD’s role was to establish a guarantee fund managed by a local microfinance institution that became operational in 2011 and is used as a hedge against loan defaults. With the support of IFAD, FO representatives and partners entered into negotiations with financial institutions to achieve the best possible credit conditions. The contract between farmers’ organisations and WFP served as a form of collateral. IFAD provided close assistance to the Joint Programme in managing the credit component.

A step ahead

Gender is critical for the joint efforts of the UN agencies in Mozambique because the majority of smallholder farmers are women. Under the lead of UN Women, the joint programme took into account the inequality between women and men in accessing seeds, fertilizers, technology, credit, transport, markets and business development services. Women farmers have been engaged in the joint programme, enabling them to gain extra skills, both in business and in quality crop production.

Establishing community storage

With funding from the European Commission and from the Flemish International Cooperation Agency (FICA), WFP financed new community warehouses and on-farm silos to help farmers store their crops better. This in turn has ensured that farmers can sell their produce at a higher price. Etalvinha’s fellow farmer Celeste remembers: “Last year, our seeds became infested with pests already in May, and we lost about half of the stock”.

The warehouse not only enables safe storage, it also provides a forum for combined sales and more appropriated pricing. “The warehouse is the future of our association. If we had one in each locality, the farmers would have a target to produce for; they would trust enough to diversify their fields and if possible, they would combine their yields to get the best prices,” Celeste says.

As a result of joint UN efforts, female farmers like Celeste and Etalvinha were able to progress: “The income gained from increased sales of maize and beans allows me to expand production, educate my children and take care of other family needs,” Etalvinha recalls happily. “I did not expect such a big difference in two years. Once you know what it takes to produce good crops and you know someone will buy it, then I am inspired to do more each year.”