The Primeiras & Segundas program received a visit from two members of the CARE US Food and Nutrition Security team and Roland Bunch, a conservation agriculture expert.
Emily Janoch, knowledge management specialist, and Tonya Rawe, FNS policy analyst, who supports the CARE WWF Alliance work, visited Angoche seeing both the land and the seascapes.
The objective of the visit was to go to the field and see the work that the CARE WWF Alliance P&S program has done with our partners in the area of conservation, food security and risk reduction.
In Mucocoma, the visit saw mangroves destroyed by the community as a result of human-wildlife interaction.
“Even though mangroves provide storm protection, prevent erosion, and provide the habitat for small shellfish that form a large part of the local diet and income basis for the farmers in this area,” said Emily Janoch, “the monkeys stealing and destroying crops felt like a bigger immediate problem than possible storm damage in the future, so farmers burned down the mangroves.”
The team visited two other communities in the Angoche estuary where they discussed the potential establishment of a no-take zone in Polizica, the important role of mangroves in minimizing disaster and the concerns of the community over the dwindling number of fish.
“Seeing the estuary and mangroves first hand is just always helpful for being able to understand and then articulate to others the challenges communities face and the role that biodiversity and ecosystems play in their livelihoods and lives,” Tonya Rawe said. She explained that this is especially important in terms of the mangrove’s role in minimizing storm surge and as habitats for some sea species.
Roland Bunch, consultant and expert in conservation agriculture, joined the team to visit the landscape and three Farmers Field Schools (FFS) in the area. In Canhua, the team saw the fields planted with cassava, corn, mucuna, lab-lab and other types of beans. The members of the FFS explained the intercropping combinations of the different plots based on which was conservation agriculture and which were the farmer’s practices.
“ [FFS] gives farmers an immense opportunity, enabling them to have a place where they can learn and experiment,” said Tonya Rawe. “It is easier for farmers to feel free to experiment with different cultures and techniques when their livelihoods are not completely dependent on the field.”
She added that she was struck by the pride farmers feel towards explaining all the details of their work and what they have learned.
In Mussuceia the guests were welcomed in song by the members of the FFS. Some of the members were wearing the green shirts and caps, which proudly heralded that the person wearing them is a Graduado da Escola de Machamba do Camponês, or graduate from the Farmer Field School. The FFS members had invited other farmers interested in finding out more about conservation agriculture. Also, some of the graduates from the program are still practicing their skills and teaching what they have learned to others in this field. The senior members of the FFS played motivational games to entice the potential new members.
The members of the Mussuceia FFS shared local food from produce grown in the area with the guests. Matapa, a stew made of cassava leaves, was served with xima de caracata, a starchy meal made of dried cassava – a true sampling of conservation agriculture.
Farmers across the Angoche, Moma and Meconta Districts are starting to see the benefits of using Conservation Agriculture techniques in their fields.
Using the basic principles of minimum labor, intercropping and soil coverage, Farmers Field Schools in the area have been improving crop yields for cassava, maize, lab-lab and different types of beans.
Thanks to the efforts of the CARE-WWF Alliance, AENA and IIAM (Ministry of Agriculture’s National Institute of Agronomic Research), the 32 field schools in these three districts are using said principles to have higher yields, putting more food on their tables.
A recent study based on a methodology developed and implemented in our Farmer Field Schools by IIAM (National Institute for Agronomic Research) provided very encouraging results.
In this study, 13 FFSs were chosen from the 32 FFS in the P&S area. In each FFS, each particular plot has used either conservation agriculture or standard farmer practices (such as burning off organic matter from the previous year and then hoeing) for 1, 2 or for 3 years.
All plots in all 13 FFS used improved cassava varieties, such as such as Eyope and Nziva. The continuity of practices in each plot and the comparison over the years is important because benefits of conservation agriculture build over time. It takes time to improve degraded soils, rebuild soil fertility and improve the capacity of soil to absorb water. Our assumption was that plots using Conservation Agriculture would improve every year. The study provides evidence of these two main findings:
- Improved varieties help improve crop yields: Farmer in this area normally get around 3MT/ha using local varieties under local farmer practice. Just by using improved varieties of cassava, which were made available by the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers can more than double their yields in the first season. At the field school plots we use improved varietiesthat were grown using local farmer practices, resulting in yields of over 7MT/ha. This improvement was pretty consistent over three seasons.
- The combination of improved cassava varieties with conservation agriculture practices improves the yields even further: In fields where improved cassava varieties were grown in plots that had used Conservation Agriculture for 3 consecutive years, the average yield was 13.4MT/ha. This is over 4 times the 3 MT/ha that farmers are getting when they use local varieties and local farming practices and 85% higher than the 7.4MT/ha yield in plots that used improved varieties grown under standard farmer practices.
The program is currently working with CIMMYT, the International Center for Maize and Wheat, to develop an even more rigorous methodology. We will use this to assess the yields in October, at the end of the 2014—2015 season, when we’ll be able to see the results of 4 straight years of conservation agriculture in the same fields.
The results of this survey show that cassava yields are growing exponentially in the region.
Nampula Province is known throughout the country for its xima de caracata, dried cassava, which is also a staple food present in most meals. So the success of using Conservation Agriculture principles to improve yields is proving to be beneficial for farmers in the region.
Now they have more efficient farming techniques, facilitating positive outcomes and improving the livelihoods of people in the region. Farmers are learning about conservation agriculture through over 60 Farmer Field Schools established throughout Angoche and Moma districts. With the support of the technicians from AENA, more than 1,800 farmers are learning valuable skills.
“I am taking what I learn here [Farmer Field School] to my field,” said Deolinda Amade, president of the Mahile Farmer Field School near Angoche.
Deolinda Amade is a mother of 9. She is one of the 14 women who are members of the FFS of Mahile. She has her own field nearby and is simultaneously working on the FFS’s field and her own.
The Mahile FFS has 18 members, 14 women and 4 men. Members agree that conservation agriculture is helping them. People in the community want places like this one to learn, said Mauricio Momade, secretary of the Mahile Farmer Field School.
With the additional money members make from selling the crops they are now able to afford school materials and uniforms for their children to go to school.
Members of other FFS agree. In Mussuceia the 16 members like the use of intercropping and what they have been learning about soil preparation. They plant different plots to compare conservation agriculture with their own practices, so they can see the difference between the plots after the campaign ends. The producers also learn how to keep track of the number of plants and how to monitor their development. Most of them agree that the techniques they are learning are very helpful. They say that knowing how to prepare their fields has been one of the most important skills they learned. Before they used to burn the organic matter, but now they are using it to cover the soil and retain humidity. Members also agree that intercropping cassava with different types of beans is really helpful to improving the soil and getting more food. When asked why some of the members come back after having participated in previous campaigns, the president of the Mussuceia FFS replied:
“At school, when you go on tot he next level you don’t stop studying. You must continue studying so that you learn more things,” Ancha Arranqua said.
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WWF photographer James Morgan’s photos have been featured in Exposure, WWF’s photo narrative tool.
“Mozambique, Crafting a new kind of marine sanctuary” highlights the uniqueness of Primeiras e Segundas as Mozambique’s first Environmental Protection Area, illustrating the beauty of the area with Morgan’s photos.
The narrative describes through words and images the efforts of the Alliance to develop marine sanctuaries in the area, reaching a balance between the needs of people and the health of the ecosystem. It also illustrates the accounts of responsible fishermen, like Dino Francisco.
“Today, the weather is changing, and we don’t know what kind of catch to expect,” Dino says. “When I was young, there were a lot more fish. I don’t know why there are less fish now. In years past, even the fishermen netting off the beach were getting hundreds of different species of fish, but not anymore.”
Dino goes on to talk about the good practices he uses while fishing and how he wishes other crews would adopt them as well.
Stepping out from the Primeiras and Segundas for a broader view in Mozambique, this is a story of different voices that speak to coastal fisheries in terms of the local challenges and opportunities for fishermen and their families; impacts in regional and international markets through the lens of a fish processor; and the actions and support of government from a sustainable development perspective as they consider how these issues apply to their country’s balance of payments.
Focusing on Mozambique’s area of environmental protection, Primeiras and Segundas, this is the story of land and sea. Through narration the video illustrates the ripple effect — if you buffer one ecosystem you can protect another. From the forests of Potone, to the estuary and mangroves, to the coast and ocean, impacts of decisions made in one place can have effects elsewhere.