"Despite the commitment to increase national agriculture budgets to 10% and to ensure annual growth of the sector by 6%, few countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region have reached these goals", - Elizabeth Mpofu, Chairperson of ESAFF (the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers' Forum).
A small-scale farmer irrigating her
Cross-learning and exchange has proven to be an effective way to generate new knowledge among farmers by replicating what has already been successfully applied elsewhere. ACORD has paid particular attention to this participatory approach to expand the knowledge pool and widen the expertise among the farming communities for increasing their yield.
Recently, six small-scale farmers' representatives in Mozambique conducted an exchange visit to Zimbabwe with support from the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers' Forum (ESAFF) in Zimbabwe. The team visited Fambidzanai Perma-culture Centre and The River of Life Centre where Zimbabwe-based small-scale farmers receive training in organic agriculture. The Mozambique farmers had a chance to participate in different practical activities on crop production to equip them with tested knowledge and skills to take back home. They also visited one farmer support centre ‘Svove Organic Small-holder Farmers Association' situated about 100kms from the capital city Harare.
The farmers shared experiences with the Mozambican delegation and could not help noticing the similarities in the methods of crop production practiced such as the use of organic compost for fertilizer and mulching to keep out weeds and preserve soil moisture. "The opportunity to visit farmers from our neighbouring country Zimbabwe and exchange knowledge and skills for better agricultural practices will positively impact on the agricultural work carried out by hundreds of farmers back home and lead to increased production", said Alisa, a farmer from Maumbica who participated in the visit.
Ensuring the Voice of Small-scale Farmers is Heard
Through joint work with national partners including the National Network of Organisations Working on Food Sovereignty (ROSA) and UNAC (União Nacional de Camponeses), ACORD aims to ensure that the right of all citizens to be food secure is upheld by the government through greater accountability to citizens. ROSA, ESAFF, UNAC and many other farmer associations work towards ensuring that the voice of small-scale farmers is included in national and international debates on rural development in Mozambique.
"We are happy that ESAFF in partnership with ACORD has been advocating and lobbying for all African Governments to commit to the promise to increase national agricultural budgets", noted Elizabeth Mpofu, Chairperson of ESAFF (the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers' Forum).