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Seed management improving food security in Mozambique

Maize seed kernels. A recent study found that  seeds, along with water and fodder, were more needed than food in the Horn of Africa drought of 2008-9. Photo: Ian Hayhurst/Flickr.

Mozambique is one of the “least developed countries” in the world according to EuropeAid. One of the main challenges facing farmers is a lack of money to survive from one crop cycle to the next. Many meet this challenge by selling too much of their crop leaving them without enough seeds to adequately prepare for the following season. This problem is exacerbated by out-dated methods of crop-storage.

A two-year project co-funded by EuropeAid with €1.3 million in the provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula has focused on “better access to quality seeds, increased yield of seeds and food crops and reduced storage losses for farmers.”

Caura, a community development worker, says: “Now we use a variety of maize seeds that are produced in a shorter period and in bigger quantities. The project helped us choose the right land and sowing period, which increased our production yield and with the silos we can better store what we produce.”

In all 38,000 rural farming families have been affected with 150 farming councils trained in trained on “post-harvest technologies, quality seed production and seed bank management”. All of this works towards increasing food security in the region.

Much of the work focuses on marrying local skills with modern technology. So the improved storage silos are built with local materials but incorporate the use of repellants to decrease insect damage.

District Technician Mamudo Ibraimo says: “The project has a big positive side to it because it supports methods that can easily be adapted at local level. The project has improved the food security situation and increased incomes for rural families.”

Maize occupies nearly half the land used for annual crops in Mozambique but its average maize yields are less than 1 ton per hectare according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Since 1995, CIMMYT has worked with Mozambique’s National Institute of Agronomic Research (IIAM) to improve yields by developing improved maize varieties and hybrids.

See also: Drought response lesson one: water, seeds and fodder are better than food.

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