Imagine that you’re a farmer who relies solely on a three-acre plot of land for your food and income. Imagine that because of lack of access to and funding for modern technology you do most of the planting, fertilizing, weeding, and watering by hand.
Now imagine that, despite all your hard work, a series of droughts and floods have destroyed your crops repeatedly over the past 10 years.
That is the situation facing many farmers in the Mutarara district of Central Mozambique. Located in a lowland plain at a confluence of Zambezi and Shire rivers, this district is home to many farming families who grow all their food on small plots of land.
After a decade of poor weather, many of these families have repeatedly lost their crops and faced severe food shortages and hunger.
“In recent years, life has become much more uncertain in many rural communities in Africa. Mozambique is no exception. Changing weather patterns are making the seasonal rains less dependable,” said Ida Mutoigo, World Renew’s Canadian director.
“Often the rains start on time but then stop for several weeks, leaving tender young plants to wither and die—along with people’s hopes for a sufficient harvest.”
When these needs arose, World Renew responded. Over the past decade, World Renew has partnered with the Reformed Church of Mozambique (IRM) to provide food and other emergency assistance to families in Mutarara when they needed it.
Beginning in 2010, however, World Renew and IRM began teaching farmers improved farming methods that could help them retain moisture and grow crops in times of poor rainfall.
They also taught farmers better ways to store their crops safely and how to supplement their incomes with other activities in case their crops failed in times of flood.
“Part of World Renew’s mandate when it was originally founded by the Christian Reformed Church was to provide physical relief in the form of food and other emergency supplies when people experience disaster,” said Mutoigo.
“But as we evaluated our approach, even recently, we realized we could better answer God’s call to help people flourish longer-term if we also address ongoing challenges in their communities and increase people’s skills and abilities to be more resilient and less vulnerable to future disasters,” she said.
“In doing this, we also renew people’s hopes for a better future and enable them to be stewards of all that God has given them.” Funded in part by the Foods Resource Bank, this project has reached more than 1,400 farmers in Mutarara over the past four years.
Today these farmers are producing more food for their families without having to depend on expensive inputs like chemical fertilizers. They are making and applying compost to their fields and using foot-powered pumps for irrigation. They also have grain storage banks and are growing new drought-tolerant seed varieties.
“If not for the seeds from World Renew, many farmers would have been suffering,” said Jorge, one of the farmers who saw the direct benefit of the program after a recent flood.
This program is now entering a second four-year phase, building on the lessons learned since 2010. In this second phase, World Renew and IRM will work with 1,000 new farmers in 10 additional communities.