FOOD SECURITY & NUTRITION
THEMATIC PROGRAM OVERVIEWBackground: Despite the under-development of Mozambique’s agriculture sector, its potential is significant given the country’s 36 million hectares of arable land and the numerous rivers that traverse its territory. It is estimated that close to 35% of Mozambican families find themselves in a situation of chronic food insecurity; on average, farmers only produce enough food to feed their families adequately for less than eight months of the year.
The poorest families only produce enough food for half the year,1 and two-thirds of female-headed households are chronically food insecure 2. The 2011 demographic health survey further showed that: 43% of children under age five were affected by stunting (i.e. chronic malnutrition); 20% suffer from more severe chronic malnutrition; and 8% from wasting (i.e. acute malnutrition). Stunting rates of under-five children reach 55% in Nampula Province and 53% in Cabo Delgado Province.
History: The successful VIDA project aimed to decrease malnutrition and food insecurity by increasing the income farmers earned from crop production and by improving the diet of weaning children. The first phase started in 1997 as an expansion of a successful pilot project called OPEN funded by USAID. This project promoted the processing of sunflower into cooking oil using manually operated ram presses. VIDA 2 consolidated and expanded on the achievements of VIDA 1. It followed the same principle that guided VIDA 1. The program worked with farmers to identify markets for crops currently grown as well as new products. Extension services were geared to providing farmers with advice on how to improve crop production and marketing.
Climate smart conservation and sustainable agriculture: The defining characteristics of CARE Mozambique’s work in agriculture are detailed below and are consistent with CARE International’s "SuPER” approach. SuPER food systems: food systems that are Sustainable, Productive (including Profitable and Nutritious), Equitable, and Resilient) to smallholder agriculture, complemented by a sharp focus on translating agricultural gains into improvements in nutritional status.
In recent years, CARE Mozambique has focused its efforts in this area on promoting the use of the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach to participatory learning and technology development. CARE Mozambique believes that this model is particularly appropriate for its impact population. At the same time, CARE Mozambique will also explore opportunities to complement the FFS model with other participatory approaches (e.g. farmer-to-farmer), while also working with other actors to measure the effectiveness of the FFS model compared to other models currently in use in Mozambique. CARE Mozambique emphasizes the use of action research, involving farmers, local partners and the Ministry of Agriculture’s extension and research branches, in all stages of planning annual work, design and implementation of research, and analysis of results from field trials and studies.
As part of CARE Southern Africa Impact Growth Strategy “Her Harvest Our Future” CARE Mozambique is hosting the Learning Hub for Climate Resilient Agriculture.
Nutrition: Initiatives designed to increase the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers have enormous potential to increase household food security and produce positive nutritional outcomes. However CARE`s experience shows that even well-conducted agriculture interventions that increase productivity and food availability can not be assumed to lead to improved nutrition for the impact populations, unless such interventions are based on a sound understanding of the “pathways and disconnects” between agriculture and nutrition. Based on this understanding, CARE`s programming in increasingly emphasizes the following elements, based on the best available evidence of what works:
Promoting Equity through Targeting the Vulnerable and Empowering Women: One of the pillars of CARE International’s approach to smallholder agriculture is the explicit attention paid to social and gender equity, and CARE Mozambique’s agriculture strategy embraces this principle.
Current Programs: CARE Mozambique will give priority to maintaining long-term presence in focus provinces and districts to build relationships with communities, local government and civil society partners. As part of this, CARE Mozambique will continue to build on the experience gained under the CARE-WWF Alliance around the Primeiras e Segundas (P&S) protected area, which is starting to show promising results. In Inhambane Province, CARE continues to focus on the districts of Homoine and Funhalouro where activities under the Irish Aid-funded PROSAN project are focused. In Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces, both coastal and interior districts will be strategically selected in relation to current initiatives.
Also see: Care Mozambique Agriculture Strategy 2014 - 2020
1 Cuanguara B. and Hanlon
2 Further information available from the Mozambican government’s Secretariado Técnico de Segurança Alimentar e Nutriciona (Setsan). Visit website
CARE Mozambique has developed its Farmer Field School curriculum to promote conservation agriculture (CA). Although individual participants may graduate, an FFS can be maintained on the same plot for many seasons, allowing for the generation of evidence of impacts of CA on soil health and yields.
- Groups of farmers, usually 20-30, who get together regularly over the course of an agricultural season to study a particular topic by farming a plot together;
- Provides opportunities for learning basic agricultural and management skills by doing to make farmers experts in their own fields;
- Provides a forum where farmers and trainers debate observations and experiences and introduce new information.
Mozambique has enjoyed more than 20 years of strong overall economic growth since the end of its civil war, averaging over 7% per year. [MORE]
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