Smallholder Farmers: The Key to Sustained Food Security and Stabilization
Even while sitting three people deep in a chapa - the local form of transportation in Mozambique - the driver dangerously weaving between cars, pedestrians, and the occasional family of goats passing by- one can’t help but notice the vast country side speeding by. Mozambique is a country rich in life and land. In Mozambique alone there are 10 million hectares of arable land, with smallholder and family farms accounting for up to 80% of domestic food supplies within the country. It is no wonder that this expansive land is not only a sustaining source but also an essential element of life and survival for Mozambique and its people.
The agriculture sector is key to increasing economic stabilization and food security. Despite the country's potential, opportunities within this sector have yet to be realized. The average production levels within the country remain very low and farms continue to be extremely vulnerable to weather related changes and natural disasters. This is largely due to the widespread use of traditional farming methods such as rain-fed farming, low-yield seed varieties and a lack of agricultural inputs, technical assistance, infrastructure and access to markets. As a result the agriculture sector in Mozambique primarily consists of subsistence farming with little chance of these farmers having the ability to create extra income from farming outputs, and a continuation of food insecurity due to reliance on vulnerable land plots.
Farm to Change: Quantifying Results
Forcier has collaborated with local and international partners implementing programs that address the root causes behind smallholder farmer stagnation. Using our innovative methods, founded in the use of mobile device technology, Forcier provides our partners with data that can inform strategy and give a comprehensive picture of smallholder farmers. This includes data ranging from field size, and percentage of gross margin per unit of horticultural land - to qualitative interviews that build context and explore the opinions of farmers on the resources they see as essential to the needs they have when entering urban markets.
In Mozambique, Forcier has collected data exploring the use of rain-fed farming and its consequences, providing baseline statistics on smallholder farmer land plots prior to implemented irrigation technology meant to maximize maize and soya harvests. This helps to provide a baseline set of indicators that project implementer's can use to measure throughout the project duration. Due to a lack of resources and education surrounding modern farming techniques, Farmer Field Schools have become a popular approach for disseminating information widely. Forcier has worked with our partners to record the scope of these schools and provide analysis of the sustainable impact these schools have had to farmers and their outputs. In addition, Forcier has conducted a wide variety of quantitative surveys utilizing CAPI technology and GPS coordination of smallholder farmer fields throughout Mozambique.
Increasing the use of monitoring and evaluation systems for agriculture programmes needs to be a priority within the international community. M&E can provide tailored tools to explore the barriers that farmers face and uncover easy to miss trends lying behind statistics, so as to inform and improve implemented programming.
Photos pictured above were taken by our contracted photographer and videographer Mr. Amilton Cuna. Depicting snapshots of field work with Forcier and our partners ACDI/VOCA for a smallholder farmer project evaluation in Maputo Province.