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.
Where the Ordinary becomes the Extraordinary: New initiatives and new opportunities for coastal communities in Northern Mozambique
This article was written by Dominique Bovens in March 2014
In February, I travelled to Moma District in Northern Mozambique to conduct a socio-economic impact survey on the fish sanctuaries in Thapua and Coroane. Driving into the communities for the first time, they seemed like ordinary communities with mud brick houses and thatched roofs, women coming back from the fields carrying produce on top their heads, and children playing and eating big ripe mangos. It all seemed so normal.
Over the next few days I came to understand that these communities were not ordinary at all, as they are part of an initiative of the CARE-WWF Alliance to create conservation agriculture and sustainable livelihoods, using locally available natural resources. In 2008, the CARE-WWF Alliance, in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and the local communities, established 2 fish sanctuaries in the District of Moma (1 in Thapua and 1 in Coroane). Essentially, these fish sanctuaries have a “no-take” zone, where fisherman are prohibited from fishing, while allowing artisanal fishing in spill-over areas. The driving force behind these sanctuaries is community members themselves. Sanctuary monitors have been appointed by the community to ensure the compliance with fishing rules in and around the sanctuary, and community members themselves have had to adapt their fishing methods.
The concept sounds simple and straightforward, but the question really remains, what is the impact of these sanctuaries on the surrounding communities? After careful observation, conversations with community members and the completion of a qualitative and quantitative questionnaire in 6 communities, the conclusion is clear: These sanctuaries are having a positive socio-economic impact in these communities. Not only are there more fish now than there were 5 years ago, they are bigger and the communities have found species that they had not encountered for years. The success can also be noted in the fact that fisherman from different communities are coming to fish in waters surrounding these sanctuaries. These two elements alone demonstrate a positive force.
Fish is the main protein in the diet in the majority of the households in these communities; 79% of households eat fish on a daily basis, and their intake of fish has increased due to the more abundant availability of fish.
“When I was little, my mother would prepare fish 2 or 3 times a week” says Amelia, a 26 year old mother of 3. “Now, I am able to give my children fish 5 times a week. And if my husband doesn’t catch any, we know we can go to the market and buy some”.
Not all households have a member that goes out to fish, but Amelia´s experience is reinforced by other community members who say that families in their own communities and surrounding communities are indirectly benefiting from the sanctuaries because more fish is available. So if these two sanctuaries are having this significant positive impact, what are the next steps?
Fishermen from different communities have demonstrated their interest in the creation of a sanctuary closer to their communities. In our survey, 88% of fishermen reported that they thought the no-take zones help to increase fish stocks, and a similar magnitude (84%) thought that the no-take zones deliver an increased number of species. They want their community to also have a sanctuary that they can manage and be proud of. They want to have the fate of their livelihoods in their own hands. It is however very important to realize that fish sanctuaries are not an alone-standing solution. Although fishing is an important source of income and diet, 90% of the households rely on farming for either their main source of income, or their main source of food for their families. The combination of marine sanctuaries and conservation agriculture initiatives form a strong joint foundation that provides these communities with a basis for sustainable livelihoods.
There is nothing ordinary about these rural communities that have been supported by the CARE-WWF Alliance in Northern Mozambique. They are the scene for exciting pro-active conservation agriculture and wildlife preservation initiatives that stimulate sustainable livelihoods. The collaboration between the CARE-WWF Alliance, the Ministries and the communities is a formula for success that can be easily replicated and adapted for different communities. It is where ordinary becomes extraordinary.