In the Nacala Corridor, agriculture faces two major challenges: on the one hand, production needs to be increased, while on the other, planting techniques must adapt to changing climatic conditions. The SDC-funded programme “Horti-Sempre”, implemented by Swisscontact, is tackling these challenges using the Inclusive Markets approach.
Mozambican farmers experience climate change on an ongoing basis; the dry and rainy seasons are becoming more extreme and unpredictable. Climate, however, is not the only challenge. The Nacala Corridor in the country’s north is strongly dependent on imports: two-thirds of vegetables sold locally come from abroad. Local vegetable producers – mostly smallholder farmers – cannot satisfy demand in terms of quantity, quality and seasonality.
The climate in the Nacala Corridor is tropical, but vegetable seeds planted are ill-suited to the changing climate conditions. Therefore, the Swisscontact team aims to facilitate access to tropical seed varieties in the region.
The team has found suitable varieties in Brazil, establishing contact between a Brazilian vegetable seed producer and a Mozambican seed supplier. In order to import the seeds into Mozambique, it was necessary to have them authorised in a comprehensive process and through collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. The fact that Horti-Sempre is a long-term project (implemented since 2013 and continuing until at least 2020) made it possible to overcome this hurdle. Swisscontact thus realised the first registration of vegetable seeds in Mozambique since the 1980s.
Sales to farmers have been so good that direct commercial relations have been established between Brazil and Mozambique agribusinesses. With market actors fully engaged, project support is therefore no longer necessary. Other suppliers see the success of the project and are copying the model, stimulating healthy competition.
In 2017, 6,700 farmer families purchased new seeds appropriate to local conditions and are now enjoying higher sales prices thanks to the increases in productivity and quality. The success story doesn’t end there; in 2017, with the support of Horti-Sempre, the local production of certified tropical vegetable seeds for onions, lettuce, and cabbage began. Consequently, dependence on imports is decreasing even further and agricultural climate adaptation has been secured.
Alberto Etupito’s day begins early. At 5:00am he meets his clients, the vegetable traders – all women – from the nearby town of Nampula. Each trader buys an entire beet, consisting of about 100 heads of lettuce, selling them at markets or to hotels and restaurants throughout the day.
Two years ago, vegetable farmer Alberto switched to planting “Veneranda” tropical seed, which Swisscontact made available in through the Horti-Sempre project. The 60-year-old farmer’s salad business has grown rapidly ever since. The newer variety salads are of higher quality because they are more resistant to climatic conditions. For this reason, they also fetch better prices on the market.
Through training offered by Swisscontact, Alberto has been able to optimise his farming methods. Now he begins a new production cycle every 20 days. In the training he has also learned how to protect his harvest from sun and rain by using mini-tunnels. The success of all these initiatives speaks for itself: “Last year, I earned 60,000 meticals in just five months. Before that, I only earned the half of it in an entire year,” says Alberto. In comparison, the minimum monthly income of an agricultural worker is currently 3,500 meticals.
Although Alberto owns much more land, he farms only one hectare. Through more efficient planting techniques he will now be able to increase production. For these plans, he consulted Horti-Sempre. “The project advised me to divide my income; the first part for consumption, the second for purchasing inputs such as seed and fertiliser, and the third saved for later investments.”
Avencio Matenga is an agronomist from Mozambique and works for Swisscontact in the Horti-Sempre Project.
Mr. Matenga, what is your role in the project?
My job encompasses numerous tasks; for example, I conduct value chain analyses. My analyses reveal business opportunities and challenges for the private sector in vegetable farming. I’m also developing partnerships between seed suppliers, land owners, and vegetable traders. In addition, I’m extending proven methods and innovations in vegetable production and marketing. I also plan training workshops for various market actors in the vegetables value chain.
Very specifically: what are your tasks over the next few days?
In addition to internal planning meetings, I will be analysing data from the local vegetable market. There is a meeting scheduled with the local seed production company Oruwera. Later, I will spend two days in the field identifying garlic seed producers in Malema District with whom we would like to work.
What are your favourite tasks?
I love conducting value chain analyses as they are the basis for planning initiatives. I also love providing direct support to SMEs in Mozambique. They need technical support and help in marketing in order to develop and build their businesses. I also enjoy helping students with their university theses; it is very important to me that I can help with their education, because they are our future experts.
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