Agricultural technology and collective commercialization: the “SOMiCa” approach

Right to food, value chain for local products, rural development, gender equality, environmental education…

SOMiCa is an initiative led by CEFA Onlus and C.A.M. to address the above issues in a rural district of Mozambique.

We are in Caia, one of the poorest districts of the country. The local economy is predominantly agricultural, with a per capita annual income of 420 EUR: a level below the extreme poverty line, according to the United Nations and the World Bank.

Environomica was asked to gather data on the district and monitor the project proceedings. Between February and April 2016, our team visited the project area and developed a monitoring system to evaluate the impact of SOMiCa on the local community.

 

SOMiCa: addressing major technical and geographical constraints.

In a context characterized by the lack of agricultural technology and good practices, production becomes completely dependent upon seasonal patterns: if it does not rain, there will be no crop collection. This means entrepreneurial risk at its highest, often resulting in loss of yield – about 80% maize yield was lost when we were there in the district for lack of rain.

We found the main constraint to filling such technical and technological gaps to be the lack of access to more remunerative markets for local producers. Indeed, there is a dramatic incongruity between the price received at-harvest and on-spot by the local producer and the revenues generated by intermediaries and traders on the national markets.

The overwhelming power of the intermediary to setting the price is undoubtedly one of the data that has impressed us the most during our work on the ground. The issue gains relevance the wider the infrastructural gap: remote farming communities are bound to wait for the rain, hope for a good harvest and summit their yield to the ever-changing terms of purchase of traders and intermediaries.

 

SOMiCa will not only act on the production side, through irrigation systems and training in good agricultural practices, but will also help framing farming contracts for local businesses to benefit from fair and equitable contractual terms.

The union of families into networks, associations or cooperatives will allow them to negotiate the price with the buyer before the season starts.

 

We believe that SOMiCa will have a huge impact on the farming community in Caia District. Crucial roles will play the over 10-year experience of CAM in the district and the proven successful approach of CEFA to agricultural development. The participation of the District Land Planning office SDAE and the local agronomy school CDAC will grant adherence to customs and access to training and jobs.

The short-term results SOMiCa will manage to bring about will nurture the relation of mutual trust with the locals and enable a broader engagement with education and development for women and youth foremost.

 

SOMiCa Project Launch – March 7, 2016: This is how local leaders in Mozambique cheer up their audience before an official meeting.