HORTI SEMPRE - Smart Solutions for Smart Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture
The Horti-Sempre project seeks to improve the livelihoods of local small-scale horticultural producers through adequate facilitation that enables access to relevant products and services which aid in an increased capacity to produce and compete in the market. The project is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and implemented by Swisscontact and GFA.

A field visit

by Ricardo Alem, Project Manager Horti-Sempre, Mozambique

Locations: Monapo district – Associação Verde Agrimulheres de Nacololo, Nampula Province; Balama district, Cabo Delgado Province

22 September 2020

Today we visited a demonstration field and examined various crops, including tomato hybrids. We also checked the recently constructed greenhouse and seedling production within it. Further, we helped to organise individual farmer plots and a farmer field day for onions in Balama, along with a field day demonstrating irrigation systems in Nacololo. Finally, our mission today involved setting up a construction of a water pump shed and implementing the last training module for the “Curso professionalizante”.

The tomato crop is doing quite well and it has already started flowering. Cabbage is doing great and there is a huge difference between the traditional and improved good agricultural practice (GAP) technologies: the cabbage that was transplanted using the GAP techniques has turned out to be a superior crop. The carrot and okra, which had been directly planted, has germinated. The onions the farmers had transplanted from a seed bed has taken root, but there are fatalities that may need to be replaced. Unfortunately, irrigation has not been effective for the onions.

The greenhouse is looking good. We note the germination rate in seedling trays is nevertheless low. The Tylka tomato variety seeded in the greenhouse is looking good. They’ll need to plant additional crops in the greenhouse to ensure it is utilized at full capacity.

Today farmers prepared basins in the greenhouse for cucumber production and weeded tomato beds. Then, using hired labour whom we trained, we facilitated trellising. We also dealt with some issues irrigating and watering crops; the hose pipe is too flaccid and gets too easily folded, blocking.

With the apparent poor germination using decomposed manure, it was decided to buy two bags of substrate in order to create another seed bed in 10 additional seedling trays. Previously, the farmers seeded only on decomposed manure in order to promote usage of local materials. We definitely need to supply more manure for the fields.

24 September 2020

Today farmers planted cucumbers in basins filled with a mixture of goat and chicken manure in the greenhouse. We facilitated the initiation of land preparation around the greenhouse. Association members are preparing an additional bed in the greenhouse. This will be disinfected and used as a seedling bed for pepper, while they wait for germination in the seedling trays. This so to capitalize on the time in the agricultural season when prices are more favourable.

 In continuation of trellising activities, we facilitated the purchase of additional bamboo for the tomato trellises in the demonstration plot. We facilitated the creation of water basins for the plants to improve localized irrigation instead of manual watering. Association members improved on the water basins for each plant in the plot.

Association members are already greatly appreciating the GAP methods and some of them have commented that they will start using the technique learned in the demonstration plot in their own fields after they harvest their poorly performing tomato that they planted before with traditional methods.

25 September 2020

Association members are disinfecting the seed bed in the greenhouse, using a fungicide and covering the bed with bed with plastic. The farmers prepared an additional 10 seedling trays and seeded them mainly with green pepper. Last year, the association had a good experience with pepper production, so they are excited to have that crop this year. These photos document how we facilitated digging of the area behind the greenhouse and the creation of elevated beds for planting tomatoes, green beans, and cucumber. The SDAE Monapo (Eng. Pascoal) facilitated the provision of free manure by the Jacaranda goat farm. 2 truckloads with 3.5 tonnes each were collected, and the transport costs were covered by the Horti-Sempre project.

29 September 2020

The continued production of elevated beds for the other half-L of the greenhouse. We can also see continued creation of basins in the elevated beds and farmers filling the basins with goat manure. Farmers are transplanting tomato varieties, pepper, and lettuce. Here farmers are seeding cucumber in new beds. Some cucumber basins that had not germinated are reseeded.

Farmers are seeding cucumber in new beds. Some cucumber basins that had not germinated are reseeded. Carrot seedlings were scotched by the sun and the bed was used to transplant lettuce. Farmers need to make some ridges on the first tomato plot to prevent water from flowing out of the bed as they water with the hose-pipe.

30 September 2020

Today we facilitated trellising of the recently transplanted tomato, cucumber, pepper and green beans. The women need to improve the systematic watering of the seedling trays by keeping to morning and late afternoon schedules. Germination in seeded trays was uneven mostly owing to irregular watering.

 A disinfected seedling bed is levelled and green pepper seeds are seeded.

2 October 2020

Today we visited the Associação União Faz Forca greenhouse. It is operational and has beds with green pepper, tomato, lettuce, cabbage and seedlings. It features a drip irrigation system with tank used to water both inside and outside the greenhouse.

 The farmers have started selling produce from their greenhouse. So far, they have sold 111 kg green pepper and 211 kg tomato.

4 October 2020

Cabbage and lettuce are showing signs of intense water stress. Farmers watered the crops and dug a compost pit. Trellising construction in the greenhouse. Farmers weed tomato, okra, and onion plots.

Irrigation system installation in progress

5 October 2020

Association members weeded, ridged seed beds, and watered plot 2 with green beans, cucumber, tomato, and pepper. Okra was replanted in sections where it had not germinated, and the women pruned and trellised indeterminate tomato and cucumber in the greenhouse. Determinate tomato was trellised outside the greenhouse and a compost heap was established. The women then established disinfected seed beds and continued preparations for the irrigation field day. Trainees are installing irrigation systems.

Women also learn to make and install insect colour traps.

7 October 2020

Today was the inauguration of the irrigation system. Over 2,000 farmers participated. Participants were divided into seven groups, each starting off at a specific station according to the different irrigation technologies on exposition. Private sector companies participated in the field day, showcasing different products.

21 October 2020

After arriving in Nacololo, we finalized the location where we will have a water pump shed constructed, after which association members launched its construction by digging the foundation. A team of five men was engaged to carry out construction. Today we continued constructing the water pump shed, installing a bitumen base, foundation, and walls, lining 30 cm walls with stone and cement.

25 October 2020

Association members agreed to cultivate and produce their crops in blocks and work as a group instead of individually. In the photos below you can see them tilling the soil and preparing the new crop blocks to plant green beans, sugar beans, pepper, cabbage, maize (green mealies), and tomatoes. The process included the production of 2 bean blocks for “layflat” and “gravitational” irrigation.

30 October 2020

Today we held a practical exercise for irrigation systems. Participants learned the practical experience of mounting different irrigation systems including drip, laser-jet, lay-flat, etc. Now that padlocks are available, the water pump was locked in the shed for the first time.

31 October 2020

Meanwhile, the agricultural college teachers continued practical training in various topics, including:

  • seed bed disinfection, compost production
  • vegetative Multiplication of tomato through side shoots, production of elevated beds and manure application
  • production of tomato, okra, cabbage, onion, green beans, peppers, cucumber,
  • seedling tray substrate preparation, watering

In the photos below left we can see how the participants are being trained in production and mounting of insect pest traps. Participants also learned how to use vegetative methods of multiplying tomato plants.

1 November 2020

Today a training was held on post-harvest techniques emphasizing the importance of proper post-harvest handling, the various stages of fruit harvest as well as ripening and colouration. Participants were also taught about fruit defects brought about by disease, physiological defects and bruising/improper handling. We then went over proper fruit selection and classification.

Further, we covered fruit classification according to size, form, ripening stage, etc. before packaging (in mesh net, wooden or plastic crates). Finally, participants were taught the importance of pre-weighing before processing in order to calculate percentage losses.

3 November 2020

On this day we monitored construction of the water pump shed. Activities such as general clean-up were finalised. We had the 3” PVC pipe length extended to reach closer to the pump house (see photo). Terraces are being constructed from the water pump shed to facilitate movement of people and collection of water from the source by the general population.

 Activities still to be completed include repainting of the water pump gate, completion of general clean-up, and construction of steps from the water source basin.

Nacololo - Associação Verde

The women have great potential and currently their sales are increasing and showing positive growth: now they are selling okra, tomatoes and cucumber. With increasing harvest quantities, they have opted to take some of the produce to the Monapo Administrative post. They keep a harvest record for each crop, as well as a sales record with daily and cumulative figures. The women have finished grading their harvest, selling the lower grade locally within the community and the higher grade commercially by kg.

The association still needs rigorous and constant monitoring as members continue to grow and learn about commercial vegetable production.

Production of crops in blocks will help in better organization and management as compared to individual farmer plots with many different crops.

Nacololo - Irrigation Field Day

Eight different irrigation system technologies were put on exhibit, most of which were new to most of the people. These systems included gravitational, lay-flat, drip, laser-jet, santelo, hose pipe, and spray irrigation. Pumps featured included hip-pump, pedal-pump, diesel pumps, and solar pumps. Every exhibition work-station provided the technical and practical details, advantages and disadvantages of each system. As a result, participants were in a position to make informed decisions about whether or not to adopt these systems depending on their own contexts. 

Stakeholders also benefited from participation by private input suppliers, who among other things emphasized the benefits of using manure for plants. They also provided participants with the source from where to buy the irrigation systems material including other inputs such as seed, fertilisers, pesticides, implements, etc.

Nacololo – Field Exchange Visit

138 women from 11 AENA-supported AgriMulher associations participated in the 2-day exchange visit at the Associação Verde de Nacololo demonstration plot. Overall, a total of 138 direct beneficiaries (first-time visitors) and at least 690 indirect beneficiaries (138 groups of 5) were reached. There was knowledge sharing on good agricultural practices in vegetable production among all AENA-supported Agrimulher groups active in Monapo district (11 visiting associations + 1 Associação Verde de Nacololo). Good agricultural practices were disseminated at the different vegetable production stages.

Constructive teamwork pays off: the joint work of the Associação Verde de Nacololo female members throughout the construction of the water tank was an inspiration to the 138 members of the 11 visiting associations. Additionally, good agricultural practices outperform traditional practices in vegetable production for the Associação Verde de Nacololo. There is a clear difference between crops produced using traditional cultural practices and those using improved good agricultural practices. We can say conclusively that the technical trainings provided to the Associação Verde de Nacololo women have improved the levels of knowledge and vegetable production. The high level of participation of members showing interest in horticultural production increases the sustainability of these activities.

Balama – Onion Field Day

Over 200 farmers participated in the field day activities. The field day was an eye-opener for the participants and most of them saw the onion production processes for the first time. Once again, private agricultural input providers provided participants with the source from where to buy the irrigation systems material, as well as other inputs such as seed, fertilisers, pesticides, implements, and more.

·        The permanent participation and coordination with district and provincial public sector institutions ensure the exchange of information, collaborative mechanisms, and the necessary support for the advancement and impact of agricultural and rural development.

Vocational Training Course

30 agricultural college teachers and University lecturers graduated after completing 224 hours of training in the 7 modules. The seventh and final module equipped agricultural college teachers and university lecturers with practical hands-on techniques complementing the theoretical lessons imparted in the previous six modules that had begun in Q4 2019. The combination of theoretical and practical approaches ensured the establishment of a concrete technical and practical base and methodologies that ensure dissemination of knowledge to students.