In agriculture, especially on smallholder farms, access to information and technology is a key component for the improvement of all daily farming activities. Latin American and African rural producers face a similar challenge in this sense: the barriers to engagement by local communities with international fluxes of trade, investment and even ideas. Mozambique, although a consolidated and large-scale producer of coffee, faces issues with deforestation and climate change that might impact this sector and that can potentially impact the livelihood of coffee producers. The need to ensure sustainable agriculture in this value chain converges, therefore, with the necessity of promoting a long-term approach to ensure decent work and food security for local communities.
Towards a Solution
This ABC project aims at promoting sustainable coffee production in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, in an integrated agroforestry system in the context of deforestation, climate change and food security. This initiative results from collaboration between Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal in an intergovernmental effort that brings together public agencies, private actors and civil-society organizations. The project has a duration of five years and was made official in 2017 between the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development of Mozambique, ABC and Camões – Cooperation and Language Institute, I.P. (Portugal) in partnership with the executing entities of the three countries: the University of Lisbon, the Federal University of Espírito Santo and the Gorongosa National Park Faculty of Agronomy.
The Sustainable Coffee Production in Gorongosa National Park project aims to characterize and implement a sustainable coffee production system, mitigating the effects of deforestation and the pressure of climate change. Its methodology involves a long-term commitment, with a duration of 60 months; it includes field work carried out by the local technical team, plus research carried out by master’s and doctoral students from cooperating universities immersed in the context of the project in order to promote and advance the training of local human resources throughout the coffee value chain. Partners carried out monitoring visits to the coffee processing plant and to the coffee plantation sites in Serra da Gorongosa, where the technical team is currently adjusting cultural management practices in partnership with local farmers. As a result of the visits, the technicians and researchers found it viable to use coffee as a complementary activity in Gorongosa National Park, with the potential for an increase in employment and revenue.
The project anticipates the following outcomes: (a) restoration and preservation of one of the largest repositories of biodiversity in the world; (b) promotion and guarantee of the functioning of a coffee production system covering the whole value chain (from farmer to market and consumer access), making it sustainable and ensuring the autonomy of farmers, technicians and researchers in the medium term; (c) training of human resources in the coffee value chain, from farmers to technicians, extensionists, young teachers and researchers; and (d) selection of elite genotypes capable of preserving biological (plant) and economic sustainability, including maintaining grain quality under climate pressure. The challenge is to promote technical guidance for planting coffee in a small area of the park with about 300 hectares, where there is no tradition of growing this plant and which has as its main attraction the international safari, while conducting technical training that will reach, through classes and a free handbook, 85 farmers per year, 25 per cent of whom are women, and will indirectly boost profitability for over 1,600 families.
The Sustainable Coffee Production in Gorongosa National Park initiative is a triangular cooperation project, with Brazil and Mozambique as the leaders of its implementation. With the Governments of Brazil and Mozambique actively engaged in the capacity-building scheme, and with the Portuguese institutions serving as facilitators, there is a public-policy commitment to the broader agenda of food security. This sustainability is reinforced by the concern of the three countries over the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries development principles, which highlight solidarity, horizontality and structural actions in the achievement of economic growth. The project is easily replicable in other Portuguese-speaking African countries, such as Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tome and Principe, owing to the lack of a language barrier, with due adjustment in terms of political engagement and value-chain focus.