ZSL’s Conservation for Communities team travelled to Pemba, Mozambique recently to plan the next phase of the Our Sea Our Life project. While there, the team caught up with project partners Associacao do Meio Ambiente (AMA) and were fascinated to hear their stories from the field from phase 1 of the project.
Meet Nelza Patricio, the horticulture assistant for Our Sea Our Life, who works with community groups (mostly women) on horticulture activities as a way to diversify livelihoods, improve nutrition and reduce the pressure on marine resources:
‘So far, I have started horticulture activities with groups from the communities of Quirinde and Quiwia in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique as part of the project.
The women in these horticulture groups were initially identified through the community savings groups globally known as Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), that were established with the project. When I first talked to some of the VSLA groups about horticulture, I was glad that some of the women were really enthusiastic about it, given it is activity that was completely new to them!'
'The project has a focus on coastal communities, which means there is usually no previous experience of horticulture in these communities (although some communities grow cereals and tubers). It really surprised me that the women in the groups really took to the activities and am proud to say that they now have all kinds of production techniques!
We had to start from scratch with these activities, we started by identifying the type of suitable produce to cultivate and sell with the groups, through conducting soil assessments for each community, then choosing the type of produce that suits that type of soil.
My job then involved contacting and establishing potential buyers for the produce, and so far we have been lucky enough to secure a few buyers such as local hotels and markets vendors and I’m confident we can establish more buyers going forward!'
'I’m very proud of the vegetables grown by our horticulture groups! Not only is it all organic as the
groups don’t use chemicals, but they also use specific techniques (which are very different to those
used for growing cereals and tubers), to ensure regulations are followed and the produce is of good
quality. These cover the whole process, from the preparation of the soil, to the seeding to
Horticulture activities are an important element of the Our Sea Our Life project- they have the
potential to reduce pressure on marine resources and diversify the livelihoods of these communities! Horticulture activities will also hopefully contribute towards the nutritional security ofthese coastal communities, given that vegetables do not typically feature in their diets, which we arehoping to change.
I really enjoy working with the different groups and their different ways of working. The women in
the Quirinde community are much more independent than those in Quiwia, where activities tend to
slow down in our absence.
So far, the groups have sold 550kgs of tomato, earning a total of over 16,000 Mozambican Meticais (around 240 USD), while they are still
waiting to harvest the other crops that have not yet completed their growing cycle.
Going forward, we are confident that the existing groups will sustain themselves, using income from sales to invest in future crops, with any profit going towards their savings (VSLAs). The AMA team are able to give technical support to the existing groups, but my aim is to engage more communities to take up horticulture activities.
It’s very rewarding to work with these horticulture groups, seeing the groups develop their
experience and improving their techniques. It makes me very happy to know that I have changed the
minds and habits of some women in these communities, knowing that some of them were limited to
growing cereals and tubers before, or depended solely on marine resources for food and income,
and now have an opportunity to diversify their livelihoods and diets (and those of their families)!’
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