Maputo — The rural development project "Sustenta", launched in February 2017 now involves about 500 small scale farmers in five districts in the central province of Zambezia (Gurue, Ile, Gile, Mocuba and Alto Molocue), according to the provincial governor, Abdul Razak.
Speaking to AIM on Thursday, during a meeting in the southern city of Matola, drawing up a balance sheet on the 2017-2018 productive cycle of Sustenta, Razak said this is "an innovative project with an integrated approach".
Financing, he said, involves not only agriculture itself, but also support structures such as irrigation schemes, feeder roads and agricultural marketing "because we want the producers to have markets where they can sell. This is giving positive results".
Razak said that, in four of the five Zambezia districts covered, there are now 60 emerging commercial farmers, and that number will increase in the coming years.
"Each emerging commercial farmer must support the small farmers", he continued. There had been an impact not only in the production of maize, beans, sesame and soya but also in increased productivity.
Taking Zambezia as a whole, Razak said agricultural production in the province has risen from seven million tonnes in 2017 to an estimated 7.2 million tonnes this year. "We have produced enough to feed the province, to sell a surplus, and to hold some back for seed. This means that food security is guaranteed", he declared.
Razak believed that implementation of Sustenta in Zambezia has increased the productivity of crops. He attributed this to the combination of technical assistance and the kits of inputs given to the farmers. But even those farmers who had only benefitted from technical assistance experienced increased productivity.
Sustenta is also under implementation in five districts in the northern province of Nampula (Rapale, Ribaue, Malema, Mecuburi and Lalaua). The government has been encouraged by the progress and, as from next year, Sustenta will be expanded across the entire country.
Figures from the Thursday meeting showed a dramatic improvement in production. According to the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, average maize production across the country is 640 kilos per hectare. But farmers in the Sustenta project achieved an average of 1,210 kilos per hectare.
It was the same with soya - average production nationally is 414 kilos a hectare, but among the Sustenta farmers it rises to 1,185 kilos a hectare.
This has an impact in farmers' incomes. Outside of Sustenta, maize farmers earn 5,120 meticais (83.25 US dollars) per hectare. But for maize farmers benefitting from Sustenta, incomes rise to 9,920 meticais per hectare.