Norberto João Ussene – A sweet success
Norberto João Ussene is living proof that livelihoods are being changed in the Primeiras e Segundas. He has what others would call “the dream” and he got it all through the lessons he learned from the Farmer Field School (FFS) and the Primeiras e Segundas program. His house, which is made out of cement blocks and a zinc ceiling, also has a solar panel and he has a motorbike parked right outside.
The key to his success was through sweet potato multiplication. Norberto first started participating in the FFS in 2010. After learning the pillars of conservation agriculture and how to apply them on his own field, he became a demonstrator and went on to show how this is done to others. Norberto lives in Namuato, a small village in the Moma estuary, where he is a community leader, a farmer and a father. After years of participating in the FFS, he also benefited from the program when he received sweet potato branches for rapid multiplication, which he distributed among almost 40 other farmers. The variety distributed was the orange type, which is rich in vitamin A and more nutritious than the local varieties.
When prompted to explain the FFS, Norberto described it as something uniting the community to learn new techniques. “We used to burn the organic matter, now we don’t burn it and our crops are doing really well. We learn at the FFS and then go to our field. If we plant in a line, we produce more peanuts and when we harvest, we get more production,” he added.
After many years using conservation agriculture, he is a true believer of its benefits and how soils are improved over time. Before, farmers inland used to tell people in the coastal areas that they were wasting their time practicing agriculture. Now, Norberto says, the same people are asking him for advice.