MICAIA’s work on Food Security
In Mozambique, as in many other parts of Africa, there has been a rush of large scale investment in agricultural plantations including forestry. Despite the potential economic impact of such investment, many . smallholder farmers are losing fertile land or being entirely displaced and local food production is being further damaged. At the same time, the emphasis of much donor funding is on helping farmers secure improved contracts as ‘outgrowers’, supplying maize or other commodities to a big commercial buyer. This makes economic sense in the most fertile areas, but there are many areas in which food production is more challenging because of poor soils or lack of water. In those areas food security is far from guaranteed. Even in fertile areas the over-emphasis on cash crops can leave families food insecure.
- More than half of all Mozambican people live below the national poverty line
- Almost one-third of all Mozambican children under 5 are under weight, and close to 1 in 5 children die before their 5th birthday
- More than 80% of the available money of low income families is spent on food
- Rapid urbanization and population growth is putting even more pressure on local food systems
Our perspective…..and what we’re doing
MICAIA believes that it is essential to build a more sustainable and equitable food system, one in which local food is placed at heart of efforts to secure social justice and environmental sustainability. Our activities include:
Training farmers in sustainable agriculture: In communities such as Maronga, in the Chimanimani Forest belt close to the border with Zimbabwe, MICAIA is helping farmers learn about agro-ecological farming systems. These systems make use of natural pesticides, companion planting, crop rotation and a wide diversity of food crops.
Researching and promoting indigenous foods and seeds: We are learning about indigenous food crops, often vital in times of shortage, but used throughout the season at local level. Working with farmers groups we are learning about traditional systems of seed storage and seed supply. In Moribane Forest we have established a Seed Centre and we’re working with the communities in the area to collect, store and then supply seed of local food plants. In 2015 in Chimoio we will open The Centre for Natural Product Enterprise and one line of work will be developing simple affordable food products based on indigenous or widely available natural resources such as Amaranthus, Moringa, yams, forest fruits etc.
Improving food storage and home processing, and knowledge about nutrition: Food security is often undermined by lack of knowledge. MICAIA is working with farmers to improve their family granaries, and we’re training people in solar drying techniques. In some projects, especially those in which we are working primarily with women (eg a women’s beekeeping project reaching 550 women), we are integrating discussion training and demonstration on issues of diet and cooking to improve nutrition.
Diversifying livelihoods: We have learned that most families in rural Mozambique combine cash-crop farming with a range of other activities that can generate a little income. The more challenging their growing conditions, the more a family needs to focus on other activities. MICAIA has supported more than 1,000 people in Manica Province to learn about and start beekeeping – providing a valuable additional food, and a source of income.