“I witnessed the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai on my village, and I can confirm that I was lucky to increase my income during that difficult period. I can now confidently share my experience of how this came to be. I improved my production income by using certified seeds and improved varieties; measures that have given me an increased competitive edge,” narrates Santos Fornela, a farmer in Sussundenga District, Manica Province.
On the night of March 14th, 2019, individuals in central Mozambique - including Manica Province - were mourning the losses caused by Cyclone Idai. The considerable damage to large areas of productive crops during the main harvest period indicated that food insecurity and malnutrition would increase in the following months.
However, those sentiments were not entirely shared by Santos Fornela, a smallholder farmer and father of eight who has been receiving assistance from the project Access to food and climate resilience through market systems (AFOC-MSD) since 2018. He has a reason to smile as he applied Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices and was fortunate to secure a good harvest of maize, beans, cabbage and garlic in May, July and August 2019.
With the zeal to further improve his production and consequently his income, Santos sought guidance from the Swisscontact AFOC - MSD project technicians who advised him to prioritise early ripening varieties to increase production outputs throughout the year which caused deseasonalisation of his production. Santos opted to produce cabbage, maize, beans and garlic as they are all drought resistant, guarantee a higher yield and have a short production cycle. With his informed plan of action, Santos can now produce about two to three times as much crop per year.
Through seedling production, Santos can now help his fellow farmers who are unable to acquire different types of vegetable seeds. He avails ready-to-transplant seedlings to them which increases their production levels and enables them to fight against food insecurity, hence growing their income.
Santos’ vision remains to invest in agriculture to overcome poverty. He has made some investments and used part of his profit to buy a greenhouse and set up a drip irrigation system in his garden, which allow him to produce several vegetables within a controlled environment. Also, Santos has diversified his risk in agribusiness by venturing into onion production and turkey rearing. He hopes to buy another greenhouse soon and plans to continue empowering his fellow smallholders with the knowledge he received from the AFOC - MSD project.
“I desire to get additional technical assistance and linkages to structured markets. I dream of seeing my produce being sold in leading supermarkets in Manica Province and I believe that through the continuous project interventions, this will come true. I’m also thinking of acquiring a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification for my garlic produce to increase my market.”
Santos has since been recognised as a resilient farmer by the local government as the cyclone did not damage his crops. He is not the sole beneficiary of the project; several smallholders have also reaped good yields as a result of the capacity building initiatives facilitated by AFOC-MSD. These initiatives advocate for climate-smart agricultural practices including the use of improved agricultural inputs such as seeds, manual sowers for grains and safety while handling pesticides and fertilizers. The application of these climate-smart agricultural practices was aimed at increasing smallholder farmer resistance and resilience to extremely unpredictable climatic conditions and improving productivity in specific cash crop value chains.
To find out how Santos started venturing into agribusiness read his story from last year: "I inspired many of my peers".
The Access to food and climate resilience through market systems (AFOC-MSD) project is an implementing organisation which works under the close guidance of the managing organisation – Swisscontact through the Food security through climate Adaptation and Resilience (FAR) Programme.
FAR aims to create sustainable climate-smart agricultural solutions for farmers in Mozambique who often face challenges of food security due to harsh climatic conditions brought about by climatic changes. It seeks to foster stable availability and access to food for 25,000 to 30,000 semi-subsistence and semi-commercial smallholder households. This will be achieved through climate-resilient agricultural production, value chain integration and income diversification. The programme is financed by the Swedish Embassy.