Chiandame is a village of roughly 1,507 inhabitants located in Mozambique’s Tete Province. Here, CLWR is working with the Lutheran World Federation to improve the livelihoods of local farmers such as Lazaro Silva Sobrinho. Here is his story.
Lazaro is 58 years old and married. He and his wife have nine children. Before 2005, the year the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) started to form Strategic Action Groups (SAGs) in Chiandame, Lazaro was finding it difficult to earn enough income from his land to support his family. In fact, during the rainy season from August to February, he had to off-farm odd jobs to buy food.
During those times, his primary crop was cabbage. “Annual production,” he recalls, “was 1,500 heads at most. My disposable income per year was, at most, 2,000 meticais.” (about CDN$70)
With the help of the LWF, Lazaro and neighouring farmers began to see the benefits of working together towards a common goal. Through their SAG, they received training in basic techniques for sustainable agriculture and were supplied with agricultural inputs such as motor and pedestal pumps, watering cans, hoes, machetes and seeds to plant beans, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, corn, pineapple and pumpkin. Education, though, extended beyond farming techniques. SAG members were given information about the prevention of HIV/AIDS, primary health care and home care, and how to prepare nutritious meals from the crops they were growing.
Lazaro was quick to implement his new-found knowledge. “Thanks to these new agricultural practices,” he says, “I now produce more than fifty 50kg bags of Irish potatoes per year. With this amount, it is possible to feed my family and still have leftovers. That’s how I started to sell surplus yield in order to ensure savings for the purchase of new inputs in the following year.”
Lazaro also learned the advantages of crop diversification. Before, he had no livestock and he used his land primarily to grow maize. Now he plants crops such as beans, cabbage and tomatoes, and has expanded to create a small orchard of fruit trees that produces tangerines, apples, peaches, bananas, oranges and lemons.
It is hard not to feel the pride of accomplishment in his voice. “At this time I have 10 cattle. I opened an account at Bank Terra to deposit my money and have 15,000 meticais (US $517) saved. With income from these activities, I am able to keep my five children still at home in school, buy school supplies and pay monthly wages to the people who take care of my cattle.”
While there once was a time when Lazaro could not grow enough food to feed his family, he now looks to a brighter and sustainable future. “My plan,” he says, “is to build a better home for my family. I have already started to manufacture bricks for this purpose. I also want to increase my agricultural production and will buy a pump for irrigation. My goal by 2014 is to buy a car to facilitate the flow of my products to other markets.”
This story appeared in the Fall 2012 Partnership newsletter. Read the whole issue here.