Ana Couvinhas IITA-Zambia
The competitiveness and profitability of most smallholder legume and sesame farmers in Mozambique are constrained by low productivity resulting from many challenges including poor access to seeds of improved and high-yielding varieties and the use of poor agronomic practices. There is a complete lack of effective and well-coordinated mechanisms to produce and supply improved seed to farmers.
IITA, under the Improved Seeds for Better Agriculture (SEMEAR is the Portuguese acronym) project of the US Government Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, seeks to sustainably increase the adoption of improved technologies of cowpea, soybean, and sesame to increase incomes and food security of smallholder farmers, especially women. This is through increasing the production and supply of seeds of improved varieties, strengthening the seed systems, enhancing the capacity of national partners to produce basic and certified seeds, and facilitating adoption.
SEMEAR aims to improve the availability of breeder, foundation, and certified seed of new improved varieties recently released in Mozambique and strengthen technology delivery in the HF project sites in Manica, Nampula, Tete, and Zambézia provinces. The project is led by IITA and is being implemented in collaboration with other research institutes (IIAM, ICRISAT, and CIAT) and is aligned with PEDSA, the country’s national agricultural strategy. The overall goal of the project is to increase the adoption of improved technologies, income, and food security of smallholder farmers. It is targeting 100,000 households with 35% women in the project areas.
In 2017, the second year of implementation, the project produced 136.44 t of early generation seeds of common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeon pea, sesame, and soybean representing 102% of the 133.76t target. This quantity of seed comprises 25.12t of breeder/pre-basic seed, which can plant 684 ha, and 111.32t of basic seeds expected to cover 2,287 ha of land during the upcoming season. The project also assisted its network of partners to produce 1,293.38 t of certified seed which is 87.2%
of the annual target of 1,483.4 t. This shortfall is attributed to the low performance of common beans as well as delays with groundnut and cowpea seed production data from partners.
The project also facilitated the inspection of seed multiplication fields of partners and the subsequent certification of 14 communitybased seed producers. The seed producers received certificates and batch numbers for their seeds to serve as evidence of quality assurance for seed buyers.
The project continued to create awareness through the establishment of demonstration plots to showcase the potentials of improved varieties and appropriate management practices, farmer training, field days, farmer exchange visits, and workshops. A total of 1,563 demonstration plots were established through the “Lead Farmer” approaches, with 38% of female lead farmers hosting demonstration plots on their farms. Furthermore, the proportion of female farmers hosting demo plots on cowpea, common bean, and groundnut ranged from 42 to46% due to the importance female farmers attach to food legumes for food security. In total 3,114 (1,856 males; 1,258 females) individuals were trained in many subject areas including variety selection, improved management practices, seed production techniques, seed storage, packaging, labeling, seed business management, and disease and pest control.
In addition, over 120 field days were organized in partnership with a number of organizations across project locations with the participation of 4,541 farmers and stakeholders, and almost 41% female farmers.