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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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Lar Boland: Ecopreneurs

Ecopreneurs, DRCBlister PackagingStripping Moringo leaves
Plant extractsProducing medicinal tabletsTablets
Celosia argenteaEcopreneursChiefs
Daily lifeVillageHeliconia Stricta
Botanical GardensDaily lifeBa’Aka women

Ecopreneurs, DRC

Luki Biosphere Reserve. Supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund, photojournalist Lar Boland documented the harvest of medicinal plants to create a new business opportunity in DRC.

Blister Packaging

A worker operating a blister pack machine in one of only two pharmaceutical plants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Stripping Moringo leaves

Workers stripping Moringo leaves at the center where the plants are transported after harvest. They will be processed (dried, ground and extracted), conditioned (packaged, labeled) and stored there.

Plant extracts

A range of plant extract for medicinal use

Producing medicinal tablets

A worker operating a machine in the final stages of producing medicinal tablets.

Celosia argentea

It has been reported that the ethanolic extract of this herbaceous plant contains flavonoids, saponins, glycosides and tannins (kindayohan/celosia) of potential medicinal value.


Four Ecopreneurs in discussion with Anna Samake, Portfolio Manager with philanthropic group Lundin Foundation.


Support for the Ecopreneur programme has come from local chiefs of the Luki Biosphere Reserve region of DRCongo

Daily life

Luki Biosphere Reserve is unfortunately in the process of a long term collapse from a species rich haven into a degraded landscape.


A typical village in the Luki Biosphere Reserve of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Heliconia Stricta

Normally grown for their beautiful flowering, some Heliconia are grown for their roots and seeds for potential medicinal use.

Botanical Gardens

National Botanical Gardens in DRCongo (Jardin Botanoque de Kinshasa).

Ba’Aka women

Women return from a day foraging in the forest. The Congo Basin provides food, water and shelter to 75m people and 150 distinct ethnic groups.