As the Country Director, I strategically support all Project Managers in the successful implementation of their work. In July 2020, my role in the FAR programme changed. I assumed full responsibility for the project management in coordination with the Finance Director after the exit of the Project Manager. Together with our committed team, we worked relentlessly to achieve the intended goals and brought the programme phase to a satisfactory close.
“Project management has no pre-established recipes and no typical days. Each day is very involving and confronted with different challenges. I liked complementing the work at the strategic level with proposal and intervention development. I validated, rethought and together with the team, innovated feasible solutions to the problems we faced. The role involved a lot of administrative work to support the technical work and leadership in building and supporting the team to achieve our shared vision. It was refreshing to feel the reality on the ground and interact with partners, especially with producers. We often self- analysed our interventions to ensure they solved the sustainable agricultural gaps and helped farmers live better lives. Every day was an adventure that allowed us to make a difference and get one step closer to our goal.”
The FAR programme was implemented with professionalism, dedication and resilience and was able to reach and improve the livelihoods of 43,678 smallholder farmers (44% male and 56% female) in the respective provinces of implementation. Swisscontact played a facilitatory role that fostered behavioural change since market actors themselves stimulated market development and assumed their respective roles from the outset. No impulsive interventions were deployed which encouraged wholesome ownership.
70% of the Mozambique population live in the countryside and eat what they grow. The country is exposed to high climatic risks and many farmers lack knowledge on how to improve their productivity and access the market. Our motivation was sustainably improving the quality of life and increasing food security for the target population. The FAR programme was designed to facilitate technology, technical assistance, and adequate training in food availability, access, utilization and stability which contribute to better agricultural outputs.
Implementation of the programme activities was not always straight forward and faced several internal and external challenges. The programme started with a very small team to coordinate, advise, and support the Implementing Organisations in achieving their objectives. During the phase, the team grew slightly but went through restructuring to improve agility and responsiveness to the demands of the programme.
Working in a fragile context, and especially in the agricultural sector exposed FAR to the effects of extreme climate shocks. In March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit Beira, passing Sofala and Manica provinces which were all intervention areas. Several people were affected and lost their lives, homes and crops. Fortunately, we had already started working with the farmers and had introduced climate-smart solutions like resistant seeds, irrigation systems, and crop management. Even with the destructive aftermath, many of our beneficiaries were able to bounce back quickly since their crop varieties were resistant and suffered minor damages. The region was also invaded by the Fall-Army Warm which attacked crops, especially maize. This affected many farms and left the population in an even more delicate and vulnerable situation.
“Having been in Mozambique for a year and a half now, I have great respect and admiration for the population's resilience, especially the women. In the face of so much adversity, the loss of loved ones, disease, inclement weather, and exclusion, they manage to pick themselves up every day and start again. I am moved and challenged by this strength. I feel grateful and proud to contribute to our mission, with a programme like FAR; improving the conditions of the people with whom we interact. I valued the programme because it worked with the people and not for the people. The word ‘with’ made the difference as it started with their needs, their vision of reality, and their interest in changing it. To move forward, change the way we do things and acquire new knowledge, we have to start from what each person or community wants and is able and willing to assume. I’ve learnt the importance of constructing solutions from the territory and not blindly adapting pre-established approaches from other projects. Despite their usefulness as references, each territory, population, and partner has its particularities. We, therefore, need to work together to achieve mutually satisfactory results. Sustainably improving the quality of life is undoubtedly my motivation and that of Swisscontact as an institution. Thanks to the FAR Project, which merges the four criteria, we contribute to this great goal.”
FAR has reached a large population in the agricultural sector. It has interacted with suppliers of services, products and goods, academia, private and public partners to induce a systemic change in targeted sectors in Central and Southern Mozambique. Building sustainable relationships is continuous work. It is a social construction that requires the will and joint vision to advance the objectives. It is important to move in this direction to consolidate the achievements made, overcome shortcomings and discover together new options to enhance the work in the agricultural sector.
Regula Chavez-Malgiaritta, Country Director – Swisscontact Mozambique