Kathryn Burnham | November 20, 2017
Two out of three small-scale farmers in Mozambique grow cassava. It’s a popular staple, but many farmers are struggling to sell their surplus. Without buyers, some of the cassava rots in storage before it can be sold or eaten by the family.
Lúcia Veredas grows cassava in Mohiua, in a fertile farming district called Alto Molócuè. He says: “We had been cultivating this product, and one of the problems we were facing was the issue of marketing. When we didn’t have a buyer, we only scraped, dried, and sold, but in small quantities.”
Radio producers like Eufrasia José are helping link these farmers to potential buyers, and are also sharing storage techniques to preserve unsold surpluses. Ms. José hosts a show called Hora do produtor or “Farmer’s hour” at Alto Molócuè Community Radio. The show focuses on producing and selling cassava.
Ms. José says she has learned a lot from producing farmer programs. She began her radio career in 2013, but says her passion for radio goes back many years. She adds, “I’ve always liked radio. I loved listening to the broadcasters. I wondered, ‘How is it that these people talk on the radio; can I not talk like that?’”
Ms. José and five of her colleagues learned to produce farmer programs with training from the E-Extensão Multimedia project, a collaboration between an NGO called NCBA CLUSA and Farm Radio International. Over the course of the three-year project, Farm Radio will work with at least five radio stations in four regions of Mozambique, including Alto Molócuè Community Radio.
Chande Momade is a radio programs officer for the project, based in Nampula, Mozambique. He says farmers call the radio stations to ask questions, which are then answered by experts on-air. Many radio stations struggle to keep staff and create programs, so the training provided by Mr. Momade has made a big difference.
He adds: “Radio stations here in Mozambique face a number of difficulties day to day—for example, the lack of salaries for employees, and insufficient equipment to produce content. Even with many difficulties, the radio stations continue to produce and broadcast.”
Ms. José’s 13-part radio series discusses a range of issues, such as land preparation, planting, pest and disease management, post-harvest practices, and marketing. The focus on post-harvest practices includes building barns and dryers for improved storage.
Farmers’ voices are part of every program. Technologies such as cell phones and automated computer recording systems allow farmers to share their successes and challenges on-air. Local extension workers also give their expertise.
One potential market for farmers in Alto Molócuè is the Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company, which supplies a company called Cervejas de Moçambique with fresh cassava to make Impala beer. The Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company processes 24 to 48 tons of cassava daily. The radio project has helped link farmers to this buyer.
With improved storage and connections to a buyer, farmers like Lúcia Veredas can earn a good income from their cassava harvest, while also storing some to eat at home.
Radio host Eufrasia José says she’s seen the difference her cassava programs have made: “We are convinced that … this program has brought great value to small-scale farmers in the Alto Molócuè district.”
The E-Extensão Multimedia project is led by NCBA CLUSA, in partnership with Farm Radio International and Human Network International. It is funded by the New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund, promoting technologies validated by the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership (SSTP) in conjunction with Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Photo: Radio host Eufrasia José at Alto Molócuè Community Radio