The successful commercialization of the common bean in Dororo, Manica district of Central Mozambique has caught the attention of local government officials and other regional organizations that are keen to spread the success further to more farmers across the region.
Our program scientists at the International Crops Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have been working with local farmers since 2012 in order to help them increase productivity by developing resilient and profitable farming systems and gain access to markets for their newly commercialized products.
Farmers empowered through Innovation Platform
In order to achieve this, the scientists introduced farmers to the concept of organizing themselves through an Innovation Platform, which has empowered them to take better decisions regarding production, storage, marketing and selling of their common bean produce in local and distant markets. Farmers of the common bean in Central Mozambique now collectively decide the best time and price to sell their produce, expecting in turn higher profits and minimal loss than if they were to sell individually.
When asked about the changes in her community, Ms. Ana Alberto, a smallholder farmer in Dororo noted:
“The scientists helped us organize ourselves as farmers through an open Innovation Platform, where we came to discuss and decide together on the best and most profitable ways for selling our produce. We negotiated own rules for collaboration, and also took part in a number of very interesting trainings for crop-livestock-market integration and marketing techniques for the common bean.”
Another farmer, Mr. Amone Macufa notes that since attending the open Innovation Platform meetings and trainings in his village, he has experienced a significant increase in his annual production yield from 4 to 10 tons in the past three years. He has also been able to sell his beans at a much higher price of US$1.10 per kg after learning how to store the beans for 4-5 months post harvest, instead of selling them immediately after harvest time at US$0.70 per kg.
Increased incomes and success are contagious
The benefits from common bean production for smallholder farmers in Mozambique are varied and have been summarized by the researchers as follows:
Source for food security and nutrition: Common beans are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamin B components (thiamin, folic acid and niacin) and micro-nutrients (iron, zinc). For institutions like schools and hospitals, low-income consumers in rural and urban areas, they are an affordable source of high quality nutrition.
- Source of income for farmers: Common beans provide a market opportunity, with a high demand in urban and rural areas in Mozambique, and at international markets. Common beans provide farmers with high returns on investments; require less labor and external inputs than many other crops.
- Soil fertility improvement through biological nitrogen fixation: Where farmers have limited resources and poor access to input markets, organic sources of nitrogen are vital. They improve soil fertility and structure for competitive crops like maize.
- Women empowerment: Women are primarily responsible for the cultivation of the common beans in Mozambique. Therefore, the additional source of income and participation in decision making processes regarding production and selling of common beans in more competitive markets have contributed to their social and economic empowerment.
Beyond the farm gate, adequate infrastructure and support services, including seed quality control, and exploration of national and regional markets are critical for common beans to take off as a cash crop for smallholder farmers.
In 2015, at least fifteen locally based organizations have taken part in the the Innovation Platform meetings to learn more about the improved production technologies being applied and the farmers' experience of self-organization through the Innovation Platform. Farmers note that the integration of legume crops (common bean and mucuna) and livestock for soil fertility management through crop rotation, cover crops, and manure has now reduced their dependence on external inputs. Combined with draft power animal management, these improved practices have not only increased production of the common bean, but the productivity of their entire farms.
Having witnessed the positive impact of the innovation platform on farmers’ livelihoods in the Dororo district, several organizations have stepped in to support the farmers in their efforts to create linkages with new and better markets.
For example, the Community Land Funds Mozambique (iTC) is supporting the legalization of farmer associations, which will play a critical role in scaling out proven market linkages. Caritas Mozambique has assisted farmers to bulk agricultural products for strategic sale at higher prices to the more distant bean markets. The Manica Community Development Organization (OCODEMA) supported the construction and management of local grain storage facilitie. This empowers farmer in price negotiations because it enables farmers to store and sell their grain collectively at the opportune time to go to market for a higher price, rather than sell at lower price at harvest time.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Mozambique helped trained farmers on the required post harvesting techniques for storage of grain and seed. There is still a need to strengthen links between farmers and government seed inspection services to guarantee seed quality, while various producer associations have now begin to link up with the innovation platform.
Lobbying the government to improve road conditions to access market
Empowered with new practical knowledge on crop-livestock-market integration, farmers in the Manica district benefit from high rainfall and good soils. Yet, challenges remain despite the current level of success enjoyed so far. Inaccessible roads prevent them from selling their produce at a higher profit to a larger market in Chimoio town, which is less than 60 km away.
At the project’s final workshop, Dr. Carlos Quembo, Director, Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM) Central Zone emphasized the critical need to improve the poor road conditions.
“If we don’t improve the roads we cannot succeed further in improving marketing of beans. It’s important to carry the potential further to the responsible ministries even after the project has finished, or else all effort will be lost,” he added.
The issue has been brought to the attention of the relevant government authorities in Central Mozambique. It is now up to them to act on the irrefutable evidence of success brought to them by the scientists and farmers themselves.
The research project on Developing Resilient and Profitable Farming Systems in Central Mozambique: A conceptual approach (MOREP), 2012-2015 was funded by the Austrian Development Agency and conducted in the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems. Project partners include Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM), Centre for Development Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) and the University of Zimbabwe.
About the authors
Sabine Homann-Kee Tui is a social scientist at ICRISAT and principal investigator of the MOREP project.
Tana Lala-Pritchard is the Communications Program Coordinator for the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.
Homann-Kee Tui, S., Hendrickx, S., Manyawu, G.J., Rao, K.P. and Robinson, L. (2015) Implementing Innovation Platforms: A Guideline for Dryland Systems Research. Manual. CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.
Rainde, J.O., Homann-Kee Tui, S., Vilela, F., Quembo, C., Assane, F., Gule, C., Senda, T., Masikati, P. (2015) Sustainable intensification of smallholder farming in central Mozambique: Benefits from better integration of crops and livestock. MOREP project information brief in English and Portuguese languages. ICRISAT.
Magalhaes M., Mwakiwa, E., Sambule, N., Homann- Kee Tui, S., Rainde, J.O., Coma, G.P., Manda (2015) Common beans: Benefits for farmers engaging in market-oriented production. MOREP project information brief in English and Portuguese languages. ICRISAT.
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