AGRA, IFAD boost rural markets, incomes of smallholder farmers in Mozambique with $40.6m initiative

AGRAThe Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is living up to its name as the organization continues to set ablaze an agricultural revolution across the African continent that would probably never be equaled in the history of Africa.

AGRA has since its inception remained focused on boosting agriculture and sustainable food production throughout the continent by empowering smallholder farmers by providing credit, technical services and improved seeds.

In a press release issued Monday August 17, 2009 and copied to, AGRA has announced the launching of a partnership in northern Mozambique to build rural markets, raise productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers.

AGRA is doing this together with the government of Mozambique and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in support of PROMER, the Rural Markets Promotions Programme.

According to the press release, PROMER is a long-term initiative committed to helping small farming households make the transition from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture. The programme is seeking bigger harvests and higher incomes for hundreds of thousands of poor rural farmers in Mozambique’s northern region. Mozambique’s northern region is a fertile area with strong agricultural potential.

IFAD initiated the US $40.6 million program in April 2009 and is contributing US $31.1 million to the project.  AGRA will contribute US $2.5 million over the next three-years, an amount that may thereafter be increased, the release said.

Commenting of the partnership, the President of AGRA Dr. Namanga Ngongi said, “this program will help smallholder farmers surmount a huge obstacle: access to markets.” Adding, “it will expand market opportunities by strengthening associations of farmers and traders that buy farmers’ surplus, and broaden their business scope to include basic activities that add value to farmers’ produce, such as grading and storage of goods.”

In addition, PROMER will strengthen networks of agro-dealers, the small-scale village vendors who sell farmers critical farm inputs, such as quality seed and appropriate fertilizer.  Increased access to such inputs is seen as key to raising farm productivity in Mozambique, where one-third of households do not have enough food to eat, and one out of five children under 5 years of age suffer from malnutrition.

“Most of the Mozambican rural households rely on agricultural activities for food and income generation. However, poverty among the rural families is still significant as they are unable to profit from their labour.”

“The partnership between the Government of Mozambique, IFAD and AGRA will contribute to empowering farmers and traders and boosting economic growth in 15 districts of four northern provinces of Mozambique,” said Aiuba Cuereneia, the Mozambican minister of Planning and Development.

Across northern Mozambique, farmers are dispersed over such large distances and produce so little surplus–often only a few buckets a season–that it hardly justifies the effort and expense of getting that surplus to a market.  PROMER seeks to change this through supporting the development of traders who link farmers to markets.

Mozambique is one of four countries seen by AGRA as having a high agricultural potential based on possessing large areas with a particularly promising set of features.  These “breadbasket areas” typically have a high concentration of smallholder farmers, and relatively good soil, rainfall and infrastructure.  In addition to Mozambique, AGRA is paying special attention to developing breadbasket areas in Ghana, Mali and Tanzania, the release said.

AGRA together with the Millennium Challenge Account and Standard Bank Group in recent times have provided a $25m facility to help smallholder farmers in Ghana.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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