Updates for the New Year
Happy 2012 from the Primeiras e Segundas Program! There are many exciting things happening in the CARE-WWF Alliance Program in Northern Mozambique so here are a few updates from the field:
Our leading terrestrial officer here in Angoche, Marcos Assane, asked community members of Ntiri “What is going to happen in the future if we don’t participate, take part in the control of, and monitor the sustainable use of our natural resources?” The community of Ntiri lies within the boundaries of the Potone Sacred Forest in Nampula, northern Mozambique. Traditionally it was feared that cutting trees in this area would bring about bad spirits, so the forest was seen as an untouchable area that was essential to the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole. Potone forest has also long been recognized for its wealth of medicinal plants used in the treatment of mentally and physically ill people from the region. But because of Mozambique’s history of civil war and migrations, and due to increasingly scarce resources, new populations moved to Potone who did not know or respect the traditional rules of preservation. Forests were, and continue to be, cut down to make room for farm land. Fires lit to clear land in preparation for cultivation and to assist with hunting ravage the forest with major loss to habitat and species biodiversity over time. In response to these threats, the CARE-WWF Alliance is helping to empower the communities of Potone through working with them to acquire land titles, building their institutional capacity, increasing their agricultural productivity, building their capacity to sustainably manage natural resources and by introducing non-extractive enterprises such as api-culture. Towards this end, Marcos along with other Alliance staff held meetings in all the communities of Potone to introduce the process of acquiring these community land titles. Strong and clear rights, including land tenure, are a major incentive for communities to invest in long term management of natural resources.. In Mozambique, once communities acquire land title only mining concessions can override that title, and so unless important minerals are found beneath their soils, the titles allow the communities to defend against and/or negotiate with investors. Working with local community leaders, government and other partners, the Alliance is bringing together people who have the knowledge, experience, and vested interest in the Potone area. The goal for the Potone project is to establish a community forest valued for historical, cultural and environmental importance, and that with good management will provide environmental services to the traditional owners and others into the future.
Another exciting initiative taking place in the Primeiras e Segundas program is Farmer Field Schools. The idea is that local farmers can learn new techniques by actually experimenting with them and seeing the results for themselves. The communal plot is divided up and sections are planted to act as an experiment, for example showing which cassava strains produce the most leaves and largest tubers, which plants are better adapted locally and more resistant to disease, if planting nitrogen fixing legumes alongside the cassava increases production, and whether spacing and use of mulch has any impact. The farming associations work together with a local demonstrator and project field extensionist to prepare the field and to plant each section according to the overall plan. This way they can compare side-by-side which techniques are working and which they want to then adopt in their personal fields. The president of the association in Kopa, Namaponda said that she’s excited to see if the new things they’ve learned will produce more than the farming techniques that they normally use. All the participants in Kopa are anxiously awaiting the results to see if what they are learning in Farmer Field School is something that they can take back and teach to their families and neighbors. As one participant in the community of Namizope said “We have learned a lot already [in Farmer Field School] and we want to learn more.”