Posts Tagged ‘Mozambique’


Nourishing the Planet TV: Lasting Skills for Sustainable Change

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In this week’s episode, we discuss how Land O’Lakes’ International Development program is tackling poverty through educational programs focused on dairy and livestock production and cooperative initiatives.


To read about Land O’Lakes’ International Development program, see: Innovation of the Week: Lasting Skills for Sustainable Change.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.



“Land Grabs” in Agriculture: Fairer Deals Needed to Ensure Opportunity for Locals

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The trend of international land grabbing—when governments and private firms invest in or purchase large tracts of land in other countries for the purpose of agricultural production and export—can have serious environmental and social consequences, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute. Deals that focus solely on financial profit can leave rural populations more vulnerable and without land, employment opportunities, or food security.

In Mozambique, while land grabs can bring in development, it can also strip farmers off their land and livelihoods. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

“Investors claim that land grabs can help alleviate the world food crisis by tapping into a country’s ‘unused’ agricultural potential,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project. “But such investments often do more harm than good, disrupting traditional land-use patterns and leaving small-scale farmers vulnerable to exploitation.”

The trend has accelerated as countries that lack sufficient fertile land to meet their own food needs—such as wealthier countries in the Middle East and Asia, particularly China—have turned to new fields in which to plant crops. “Growing demand and rising prices for food are leading some wealthier developing countries to seek secure access to food-producing land in the territory of lower-income ones,” said Robert Engelman, Executive Director of Worldwatch. “If all governments capably represented the interests of their citizens, these cash-for-cropland deals might improve prosperity and food security for both sides. But that’s not often the case. It’s critical that international institutions monitor these arrangements and find ways to block those that are one-sided or benefit only the wealthy.”

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reports that some 15–20 million hectares of farmland were the subject of deals or proposed deals involving foreigners between 2006 and mid-2009. Additional land acquisitions occurred in 2010, including deals in Ethiopia and Sudan, according to Andrew Rice, author of The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget and contributing author to the recent Worldwatch report State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.



In free market, seeds of Africa’s food solution

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Check out this recently published article in the Associate Press which highlights the need for good quality seeds and better extension services for farmers worldwide. According to experts, only 20 percent of farmers across Africa have access to state-of-the-art seeds. But organizations, like the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, are working to improve farmers’ access to important agricultural inputs.

Peter Waziweyi is bouncing around the lush countryside of Mozambique in his 30-year-old truck, visiting his customers’ maize fields and relishing the sight of their rich, ripening crops.

Farmers in developing countries need better access to seeds and other extension services. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In an East African country that tried and failed to run its economy on Marxist lines, it is now the turn of small-time businessmen like Waziweyi to step forward. Waziweyi is a seed salesman and part of a chain linking scientists and farmers that experts hope will help Mozambique and other African countries solve their chronic food crises.

Waziweyi has gone from aid worker to entrepreneur, producing high-yield, drought-resistant hybrid seeds and selling them through the company he and his wife founded last year, called “Nzara Yapera” — “an end to hunger.”

“That’s what we call positive results with immediate impact,” he says after meeting a farmer who has seen what hybrid maize seeds can do and wants to buy them.

Better seeds fueled the “green revolution” of higher, more reliable crop yields that transformed farming in many parts of the world.

But Africa has come late to the green revolution, and Mozambique later than most. The former Portuguese colony is almost a laboratory specimen of the continent’s post-independence woes: 17 years of civil war, spells of flood and drought, one-party rule tainted by corruption and antidemocratic tendencies. Like several African countries last year, it suffered riots over high food prices.

Gradually, the government is relinquishing control of the economy. A state-owned seed giant was broken up recently into an array of private producers, and Antonio Limbau, Mozambique’s deputy agriculture minister, said he wants the profit motive to spread.

Across Africa, experts say, only 20 percent of farmers are using state-of-the art seeds. In Mozambique, Limbau said, it is just 5 percent.

While genetically modified seeds raise objections here just as they do in some Western societies, hybrid seeds and other modern techniques go down well in Africa. Success stories cited by researchers include cocoa in Ghana, cotton and coffee in Uganda, flowers in East Africa and beans in Rwanda.

But the World Watch Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, cautions that better seeds are not enough: Farmers need ways to keep their soil nourished, reliable customers and roads to bring their produce to market.



Imbe: Africa’s Queen of Fruits

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By Kim Kido

With sap that makes arrow poison, leaves that contain antibacterial compounds, and fruit as tasty as its cousin mangosteen, the uses of imbe (Garcinia livingstonei) are as varied as the places visited by its namesake David Livingstone. One of about 400 varieties of Garcinia, imbe is the best known relative of the mangosteen in Africa.


Imbe fruit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

The fruit is eaten raw, cooked with porridge, seeded and dried, or crushed like grapes to create a drink. The fruit can also be fermented to make a purplish wine or soaked in alcohol and mixed with syrup to make liqueur.

Although the fruit is tasty, the plant is more often used as an ornamental in landscaping than a source of food. The tree decorates Mozambique’s capitol and can be seen near Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Hardy, somewhat salt-tolerant, and drought-resistant, the tree occurs naturally in landscapes as varied as the sand dunes of Tana Delta in Kenya, open woodland of South Africa, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, and termite mounds in Zambia. The tree provides forage for wildlife like elephants and canoe-building material, although the latex produced by the tree can make the wood difficult to carve.

In one of few studies regarding imbe, an antibacterial compound was isolated from the leaves. The bark and root of imbe is currently used in Namibia to treat various ailments from Cryptococcal meningitis to tuberculosis, and the fruit contains compounds with potential anti-cancer effects.

The tree is also potentially a good candidate for intercropping with other species, and its drought-tolerance and attractiveness to insects and birds may make it useful in ecological restoration of degraded landscapes. Despite its potential and current uses, the tree has yet to be domesticated. Little documentation of production under cultivated conditions exists, and virtually no studies have been done to try to improve plant characteristics through genetic selection.

What foods have you tried that can’t be found in a typical supermarket?

Kim Kido is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.



International Reporting Project Fellows Discuss Reporting on Global Health

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By Matt Styslinger

The International Reporting Project (IRP)—based in Washington, D.C. at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)—gives U.S. journalists opportunities to cover critical international issues. IRP Fellowships allow recipients to cover original stories with a five-week field reporting trip overseas and are coupled with 4-weeks of training at SAIS. On April 28th, four fellows returning from their field investigations on global health issues gave a presentation—called Reporting on Global Health: a conversation with the International Reporting Project fellows—of their experiences and insights in Washington, D.C.


IRP says global health issues that plague developing countries rarely make mainstream media headlines (Photo credit: David Rochkind, IRP)

“Being able to portray the human element beyond the statistics will be key in telling this story,” said returning fellow Ann Kim, who has been in Botswana. Kim went to Botswana to report on male circumcision, but found the story intertwined with issues related to HIV/ AIDS, cervical cancer, and poverty. “There is a lot to unpack to make the story,” she said.

The struggle of isolating a story from the complex circumstances in which the fellows found themselves was a recurring theme of their presentations. “People really questioned me because I was talking about the economy and natural resource extraction,” said Annie Murphy, who went to Mozambique to cover health sovereignty. Murphy said that 50 percent of Mozambique’s national budget and 70 percent of its health budget comes from foreign aid. This lack of economic sovereignty, she said, greatly affected the country’s ability to take charge of the health of its own people. (more…)


Innovation of the Week: Lasting Skills for Sustainable Change

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By Mara Schechter

The Land O’ Lakes company is best known for its butter, but the company also has a nonprofit division—Land O’ Lakes International Development (IDD). Land O’ Lakes IDD is part of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, a group of organizations that share the belief that “cooperative techniques, which have helped millions of American families, can be adapted to help poor and low-income people in developing countries achieve a better way of life.” The organization does this through various programs, mainly focused on dairy production, livestock farming, and enhancing local food networks.


Smallholder farmers also tend to benefit from cooperatives, which help them to pool their resources. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

As part of its Mozambique Food for Progress program, the organization trains farmers in Mozambique to train other farmers how to use animals for transportation and plowing. In Chapter 14 of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, experts from the International Livestock Research Institute explain how raising livestock can help improve farmers’ incomes, diets, and crop productivity. For many smallholder farmers, animal-powered farming provides a much-needed source of additional muscle, because machines like tractors are often prohibitively expensive.

Smallholder farmers also tend to benefit from cooperatives, which help pool their resources. In Western Mozambique’s Gondola District, for example, Land O’ Lakes IDD has brought in cattle and helped smallholder farmers learn about raising them, as part of a project to create the Gondola Milk Collection Center.

At the Center, members of a local cooperative can sell their items in bulk and get increased access to markets and better prices. According to Roy Perkins, the director of Maforga Christian Mission, who is working in the Maforga community, “I am sure that other direct beneficiaries [of the Land O’ Lakes dairy initiative] will get out from the extreme poverty that prevents their food security.” (more…)


KFC Expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa

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By Matt Styslinger

Yum! Brands, Inc. is planning to more than double its number of KFC outlets in Africa to 1,200 by 2014, according to the recent Wall Street Journal article “KFC Savors Potential in Africa.” Author Julie Jargon explains how Yum—whose brands include Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell—is already well established in South Africa and is expanding to Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, and several other African countries.

Yum, Inc. is expecting its annual profits will expand $120 million from its African operations by 2014. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Yum is expecting its annual profits will grow $120 million from its African operations by 2014. About 40 percent of Africans now live in urban areas, and families with disposable incomes are expected to rise by 50 percent by 2020, according to the article. In Africa, KFC attracts both affluent customers, as well as low-income consumers who will save for months for one of their chicken dinners.

“People are now focusing on the emerging world, with a bit of a gold rush going on,” according to Yum Restaurants International CEO, Graham Allan. Yum’s chairman, David Novak, says, “Africa wasn’t even on our radar screen 10 years ago, but now we see it exploding with opportunity.” As the growth of fast food wanes in the developed world, American restaurant and retail companies are expanding into the developing world. (more…)


NtP in Correio Braziliense

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Check out our newest opinion editorial published in this week’s Correio Braziliense.  The article, in Portuguese, discusses the food riots in Maputo, Mozambique, and how farmers are investing in sharing knowledge  in order to take food security into their own hands.  Click here to read the article in English.

To read more about farmer workshops that help them learn from each other see: Spreading the Wealth of Innovations and Innovation of the Week: Farmers Learning From Farmers


Beyond the Price of Food: Putting Food Security Into Farmers Hands

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By Elena Davert

Last week the price of bread in Maputo, Mozambique rose by over 30 percent, causing a series of devastating riots that the country’s capitol had not seen since 2008. Over the last week, protests have left 13 people dead, about 400 injured, and nearly 300 in jail, according to officials.

Innovations are taking place in Mozambique and all over sub-Saharan Africa that not only help achieve greater yields, but also protect the environment and improve livelihoods. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The increased prices followed a surge in global wheat prices last month because of Russia’s drought-induced export ban on grains. The ban, which has recently been extended until late 2011, forced global wheat prices to rise 38 percent higher in July, 3.7 percent in August, and an extra 7 percent just this month. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the floods in Pakistan — Asia’s third-largest wheat producer — have further compounded the reduced wheat harvest this year.

The FAO, however, announced that it does not believe the world is headed toward a food crisis comparable to the one 2008. Although similar hikes in food prices sparked political instability in Mozambique two years ago, other key conditions, such as soaring fuel prices, aren’t present now.  The world cereal output in 2010 is still predicted to be the third highest on record

After an emergency cabinet meeting following the riots, Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia made a statement that the Mozambique government would lower bread prices to previous levels through the use of subsidies. He also promised the price of rice and water also would be lowered, but that higher electricity tariffs were being maintained.

High food prices aren’t the only challenges people face in Mozambique or elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change, growing population, and water sources are also affecting the overall food availability. But innovations are taking place in Mozambique and all over sub-Saharan Africa that not only help achieve greater yields, but also protect the environment and improve livelihoods. Groups such as Prolinnova and the National Farmers Union of Mozambique , for example, have found new ways to spread successful farming techniques to the rural of areas by helping farmers share information and sustainable agriculture techniques with one another.

To read more about innovations in Mozambique that are helping to improve access to food and improve harvest yields, see: Farmers Learning from Farmers and Spreading the Wealth of Innovations.

Elena Davert is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.


Part 8: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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Each day we are posting three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

Photo credit: Bernard Pollack

1. Peter Mietzner, Namibia says:

“Most definitely at the small-farming sector …. that is the key to more economic success!”

2. Madyo Couto, TFCA , Mozambique says:

“I would see it in two levels: 1 – Investment to promote more efficient and more nutritious subsistence farming; 2 – Investment to promote commercial farming, creating linkages between farmers and markets (private sector).

3. Norman Thomas Uphoff, Cornell University, USA says:

“On the need for more funding support that connects small-scale farmers to the private sector, I would want to know how this gets done, whether the smallholders are organized and in some position to bargain with private traders, merchants, exporters, etc. so that there is a fair distribution of the value-added creation.

Also, if farmers are growing non-consumable items (like flowers, or oils), they can suffer if market prices fall or traders shift to some other cheaper market. (They can play off groups of growers against each other, so simply having farmers in producer or marketing co-ops is not always a hedge against exploitation.) If they are growing food crops, esp. non-perishable ones, households can at least subsist on their produce if market forces leave them in limbo.

On the need for funding to move from food aid to investment in development for food security assistance, the question is how to do this. The U.S. Embassy in Lusaka in 2006 gave support to a really promising local initiative from Solwezi in Northwest Province, to disseminate knowledge about the System of Rice Intensification to Zambian farmers. The World Conservation Society, through its COMACO program, is taking up this opportunity for farmers in the northeast.  A farmers’ cooperative in Solwezi showed  that rice yield over 6 t/ha was possible without relying on chemical fertilizer, just by modifying their practices. This could do a lot for food security in Zambia.”

See Part 1 to hear from Dave Andrews (USA), Dave Johnstone (Cameroon), and Pierre Castagnoli (Italy).
See Part 2 to hear from Paul Sinandja (Togo), Dov Pasternak (Niger), and Pascal Pulvery (France).
See Part 3 to hear from Christine McCulloch (UK), Hans R Herren (VA), and Amadou Niang (Mali).
See Part 4 to hear from Michel Koos (Netherlands), Don Seville (USA), and Ron Gretlarson.
See Part 5 to hear from Shahul Salim, Roger Leakey (Kenya), and Monty P Jones (Ghana).
See Part 6 to hear from Calestous Juma (USA), Ray Anderson (USA), and Rob Munro (Zambia).
See Part 7 to hear from Tom Philpott (USA),  Grace Mwaura, and Thangavelu Vasantha Kumaran.

What is your answer? Email me at or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg