Ambassadors of progress
Promoting modern agricultural practices in Mozambique
Fazbem was once just a farmer in Mozambique, but now he is a businessman who works independently to provide agricultural assistance and support to other farmers, increasing both his income and theirs.
Called Farm Business Advisors (FBAs), agricultural extension agents like Fazbem dispense information about best practices in technology, fertilizers, pest management, and post-harvest storage through training sessions and demonstrations. In many cases, they also sell direct services such as crop spraying.
Mozambique is a land of unrealized potential. With more than 36 million hectares of arable land and over 15 million people engaged in agriculture, it could feed millions. But farming in Mozambique is labor-intensive, and farmers lack efficiencies. A radical change is necessary to reverse Mozambique’s history of low farm productivity.
That change is happening today, thanks to FBAs like Fazbem, who are agents of change, helping iDE revolutionize small-farm agriculture in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Ninety-two percent of small- and medium-scale farmers do not have access to extension services; 95 percent do not use fertilizers or pesticides; 90 percent do not irrigate their crops; and 97 percent do not have access to credit.
For farmers of small plots to invest their limited time and incomes in changing their traditional farming practices, iDE has to show them the potential benefits. With funding from the the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are implementing several activities that do so as part of the Smallholder Agriculture Innovation and Irrigation (SAII) project. First, we establish demonstration plots and technology centers, to identify what agricultural innovations (such as micro-irrigation) are appropriate to the local context and test their commercial viability in the local marketplace. We then recruit and train local farmers as an advance guard, visiting communities to discuss these options with their peers personally and provide needed services.
Fazbem invested in a tractor to provide mechanical services such as plowing to the 59 small-scale farmers he works with, creating two jobs, as he needed help to keep up with the demand for his services. Fazbem has also invested in a sprayer to be able to provide fertilizer and herbicide services for the sesame crops.
By providing access to these proven agricultural innovations, FBAs help small-scale farmers reach their potential. iDE supports the FBAs by facilitating their connections to dealers and suppliers. We help identify links in the value chain that can be enhanced, such as training for local machine shops on the maintenance of newly introduced farm technologies. We also help develop finance options by engaging local financial institutions to develop loan programs that enable small-scale farmers to make purchases with little or no collateral.
Results so far
- Farmers implementing these changes see a doubling of their crop yields and income.
- As of April 2016, 88 FBAs have been trained in Mozambique, of which 77 are actively engaging and making a difference for 3,466 small-scale farmer clients.