Conservation Agriculture helps crops withstand flooding
The techniques of Conservation Agriculture (CA) are geared to help crops survive during times of draught. This is done by building organic matter in the soil, which speeds up the rate of water infiltration into the soil and reduces evaporation. Now, the Primeiras & Segundas program, AENA (our local partner, the National Association for Rural Extension) and the Ministry of Agriculture have some evidence that CA is also helping farmers be more resilient to another common disaster in the area – flooding. From January 2015 until mid March, heavy rains affected Northern Mozambique. They destroyed infrastructure, people’s houses and many hectares of agricultural land. In the Primeiras & Segundas Protected Area, the especially heavy rains that started on March 1 until March 8 devastated houses and crops in the districts of Moma, Larde and Angoche. The Farmer Field Schools seem to have endured the flooding thanks to the CA techniques that farmers are using. When program staff visited three FFS after the rains, the comparison of the fields using CA and the ones using traditional practice showed the clear advantages of CA in helping to mitigate the negative effects of flooding.
“You can see for yourself,” Amina Momade from the Mussuceia FFS said. “I planted this maize under CA and if it wasn’t for that this maize wouldn’t have withstood the flooding. I am sure that the harvest will not be much affected in this field.”
The use of mulch to cover the soil clearly helped protect the fields from the excess of water by absorbing it instead of drowning the crops, and then evaporating once the rain stopped. Albertina Augusto Chale from the FFS in Canhaua agrees with Amina Momade. She regretted not having the information about mulching protecting crops from the rains before. She was able to see it herself in the plots at the FFS, but she did not use the same techniques in her field.
“During the rains, the excess rain passed on top of the mulch and allowed the plants to grow,” Albertina said. “I am learning that a field without mulch doesn’t produce anything.”