Nelly Bassily | July 19, 2010
Prolonged droughts are not uncommon in Mozambique. An estimated 500 000 people live in chronic food insecurity. Without access to quality seeds, subsistence farmers recycle traditional seeds that produce poor yields, and remain poor. With the climate changing, there will likely be an increase in extreme weather events and even longer periods of drought. In response, farmers in Mozambique and elsewhere are learning new and innovative ways to store their seeds properly and ensure their food security.
Building metal silos can be costly. But Gilberto Tethere (the farmer who invented the low-cost Tethere silo) has proven that silos don’t have to be expensive.
To learn more about the Tethere silo and how to build your own, watch these informative videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkN8YupgVWg (in Portuguese only).
You can see more pictures of the Tethere silo on Helvetas Mozambique’s flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44345799@N05/.
The Tethere silo or “Zero Emissions ‘Fridge’ for Rural Africa” is an adaptation of a metal silo that worked well in South and Central America for seed conservation (see www.postcosecha.net). But the Mozambican context proved different. Mozambican farmers were unable to afford the metal silos. In comparison to Central and South America, not only is Mozambique poorer but also geographically more isolated. Access to metal for construction is too expensive. Christian Steiner of Helvetas Mozambique provides an example: In Central America, small farmers use zinc metal roofs on their houses. These farmers can afford to consider building metal storage facilities. In Mozambique, most farmers do not have metal roofs on their houses. Metal roofs are a higher priority for these farmers than metal silos.
Gilberto Tethere understood that farmers in northern Mozambique needed more affordable, locally-adapted silos. And, out of necessity, innovation was born.
Maybe there are innovative farmers in your area. Why not interview them to find out if there is another low-cost, innovative way to store seeds?
Here are some interesting Farm Radio International scripts about seed storage and preventing post-harvest losses:
Innovative farmer uses pounded maize cobs to protect stored maize
Communities Revive a Traditional Method of Storing Grain in Times of Need
Storing cow-pea seeds for a season and a reason
Avoid Farm Losses by Improving Storage Methods
Avoid Post-Harvest Losses with Proper Handling: Eight Radio Spots