As climate change continues to devastate rural farming, one IFAD project is using stem plantation to help farmers adapt.
14 January 2016 – João Marcus Costa is a cassava farmer from Manjacaze, Mozambique. Like many Mozambican farmers, João's small cassava field used to face constant threats from drought, disease and pests. Even when he did manage to successfully harvest his cassava, he then faced additional challenges trying to get his cassava to market due to poor transportation. Fortunately now, however, the situation is beginning to change for João.
Through the IFAD-supported Pro-Poor Value Chain Development Project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL), with additional funding from its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), smallholder farmers like João are connected with the resources they need to adapt to climate change.
Smallholder farmers, especially those in developing countries are at the forefront of climate change and are most in need of adaptation techniques.
PROSUL's aim is to develop climate smart livelihoods for smallholder farmers in the Limpopo corridors.
One area of work will be to strengthen the country's cassava value chain. It will specifically strengthen links between the farmers involved in production.
This will be done by providing local farmers with both improved agricultural practices and a direct access to market. So far, the project has initiated 60 farmer field schools, involving more than 1732 participants, the majority of which are rural women.
"Before the project started we didn't know how to distinguish healthy cassava," says João. "We are now able to determine which plants need to be replanted, and we eventually replace them."
João is part of a group of farmers trained by PROSUL with the use of demonstration plots. These plots are piloting drought tolerant, pest resistant and high yielding cassava varieties. The production is so far rolling out on 96 hectares involving more than 300 smallholder farmers in four districts of the Gaza and Inhambane provinces.
More than 25,000 stems of improved cassava varieties have been planted in João's plot alone. The new plants, according to Genesio Celestino Mirosse, project extensionist from SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, are stronger and more resistant to prolonged periods of water shortages and scarcity.
Due to improved seed varieties and reliable markets, farmers can now grow higher value crops. The expected profits will allow them not only to plan their investments for the next season, but also to enhance their yields through intercropping varieties such as feijão nhemba, a local bean, with the piloted cassava plantation.
For João, the results have been life changing.
"Now I can sell my harvest directly to the market and get paid immediately," says João. "I already know the price I will be paid. If the harvest maintains the promised expectations, next year I will be able to cultivate on more hectares!"
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