In Sanga district in the extreme North of Mozambique ACORD is helping communities to overcome food insecurity by enhancing food production and storage. In the first half of 2010 four community food barns were constructed in food insecure locations. Communities volunteered land for construction and labour for brick-making and these food barns are now being used to store crops as well as a market place for the sale of surplus production. Surplus production has been made possible by the training of community extension workers and establishment of demonstration farms.
Two volunteers - one male and one female - were identified by communities in each location and were trained on the basics of improved agricultural production to serve as community extension officers. The training was included semi mechanized land preparation; seed selection and preservation; optimum spacing and strip planting; fertilizer application during planting and top dressing; and, post harvest preservation and storage. In addition each community identified an area for establishing two demonstration plots. On site coaching on planting and space optimization was carried out in collaboration with the Directorate of Agriculture.
The collaborative approach which involved ACORD, the communities and the active participation of local government has proven very effective. The government has called for this project to be replicated in other districts. The district commissioner said at the handing over ceremony that "ACORD is a true development partner and is complementing government work in the province"
Mr. Said Mbwana Massogo, a farmer in Matcheje recounts: "Yes, we need to increase our production, but our priority need is proper storage. Elephants easily destroy our traditional barns and destroy our harvest. Now with this cement constructed barn the elephants will not manage to destroy them and our harvest will be safe. We have suffered for so long and now this is a sure end to our suffering."
Right: A community food barn in Maumbica village.
Constant hunger is chronic in Mozambique in general and Sanga district in particular due to low productivity, fragile harvest storage facilities and changing weather conditions. The food barns project is an initiative that will contribute to reversing food insecurity in the target area. Gender balanced food barn committees in each village will ensure the sustainability of the project and that the project will in particular benefit women who make up over 70% of the agricultural labour force.
This project is one practical example of what is being achieved at the community level under the umbrella of ACORD's Food Sovereignty work which seeks to link practical work at the grassroots level with advocacy on agriculutural policies at all levels from local to global.