Agricultural production, particularly family production, is crucial to food and nutritional security and the well-being of the population in Mozambique. Although the productive potential is great, current systems fail to meet needs. The State’s strategic plan for poverty reduction prioritizes increasing access to factors of production, particularly for women, and highlighting the availability of suitable technologies.
At the same time, weak commercialization of agricultural products is a disincentive to intensifying production, which limits the growth of household income. In order to improve market access, there must be improvements in the network infrastructure and the post-harvest handling, storage, conservation and processing of products.
Towards a Solution
To address these challenges, the ‘Gorongosa Café’ project aims to mitigate the effects of deforestation and climate change, promote agribusiness and increase income and food security for rural families in the region. The project is based on an agreement between Gorongosa National Park and local communities to set aside 1,000 ha to grow high-quality, shade-grown arabica coffee. This would translate into over 5,000 ha of protected and restored tropical forest and sustainable livelihoods for more than 2,500 families. It would also ensure the protection of 40,000 ha of national park land.
The project's targets are:
- to define and improve the environmental sustainability of the coffee production system (Coffea arabica) by using techniques that include shading, intercropping and the rational use of water resources and fertilizers.
- to analyse the resilience of plant material in the context of climate change in the region and select elite genotypes that are better suited to regional conditions.
- to evaluate the possibility of introducing Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora cv. Conilon), whose plant is generally more tolerant to higher temperatures than C. arabica, taking into account future global warming.
- to train the various stakeholders (farmers and their associations, technicians, traders, students, researchers and teachers) throughout the coffee value chain.
By training human resources (farmers, extension workers, technicians, students and researchers) in production, technology and scientific research, the project is:
- improving current coffee production systems by introducing or optimizing cultural practices, particularly with regard to water resources and fertilization, as well as selecting alternative (Arabica) and/or complementary (Robusta) cultivars.
- drafting a manual on good practices in crop management, focusing on determinant aspects such as the procedures for maintaining plants throughout the year, harvesting, processing and storing coffee locally.
- adapting a quality certification system and promoting the Gorongosa Café brand, in accordance with international quality control standards.
Each partner plays an important role.
The Plant-Environment Interactions and Biodiversity Laboratory of the School of Agriculture at the University of Lisbon in Portugal has a long history of research in coffee and collaboration with institutions in Mozambique and Brazil in the fields of teaching, advanced training and research. These collaborations focus on the analysis and selection of genetic material in the context of climate change, as well as on biodiversity conservation programmes.
The Federal University of Espírito Santo in Brazil has scientific experience and provides human resources training, with a focus on crop management and plant improvement. As it has a long history in research, teaching and extension in the field of coffee growing, it will be able to contribute in a very practical way, guiding the cultural management (planting, fertilization, pruning, harvesting and other aspects) and training of human resources in Mozambique.
Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique promotes the project and has significant experience in conducting short courses on biodiversity. Three team members from the Park will be directly involved in supporting and supervising activities under this project.
The Camões Institute, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, the University of Lisbon, the Federal University of Espírito Santo and Gorongosa National Park all provided financial support.
One hundred percent of the project's profits are directed to funding conservation and human development projects in and around Gorongosa National Park. In this case, triangular cooperation allows for structured intervention on a larger scale. It provides a way to diversify partnerships with different development actors, such as universities and traditional and emerging donors from civil society organizations, on the basis of their comparative advantages and added value. The project also forges partnerships that go beyond the traditional North-South approach.
This project could have a multiplier effect. It creates synergies with other cooperation agencies and serves as an important tool to share and capitalize on resources and expertise. It also provides a mutual learning exercise, with significant benefits for all parties involved.
With its context-specific approach and tailored solutions, the project serves as an example of scaling up successful projects and taking ownership. The host country recognized and benefited from the added value that each of its triangular partners had to offer.
The project centres around Gorongosa National Park, and all activities operate within its intervention logic, ensuring improved ownership and leadership, which, in turn, increases impact and sustainability. It has also paved the way for partnerships between countries and academic institutions from Europe and South America that share cultural and linguistic ties. Lastly, the project seeks to meet the host country’s demands and scale up development cooperation initiatives by partnering with States that have advantages in expertise, technology and know-how.