Over 475,000 Farmers in Mozambique Benefit from Semear Legume Seed System
Through the Feed the Future Mozambique Improved Seeds for Better Agriculture (SEMEAR), 475,000 smallholder farmers have been reached with improved legume production practices and technologies, including good quality seeds of improved varieties and improved crop management practices. These have been applied on 575,660 hectares, resulting in a 48% increase in smallholder productivity.
The six-year, USAID-funded SEMEAR Activity was led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and focused on five key legumes: common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeon pea and soybean, in addition to sesame, an oil seed crop. The project aimed to increase the productivity of the crops among smallholder farmers by addressing the major challenges they faced: the lack of access to quality seed of improved varieties, appropriate agricultural practices and inputs needed for healthy plant growth.
Alternative Seed Production and Distribution Model
To increase the availability and access to improved varieties of legumes, the project established a seed production and distribution model that brought together many actors along the seed value chains to get new, improved varieties from research into farmers’ fields. The research partners, comprising of IITA, Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM), the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) multiplied and produced 692 tons of prebasic and foundation seeds (see the photo at the top of the post) of farmer-preferred varieties that are resilient to environmental stresses and made them available to certified seed producers, including private seed companies, seed enterprises, community-based seed producers and farmers’ associations (see the figure below). SEMEAR partners produced 9,792 tons of certified and quality-declared seeds; enough to plant 493,300 hectares of farmers’ fields for grains. The project catalyzed the production of certified seed by encouraging able farmers to set up seed enterprises and establish community-based seed production schemes to produce and sell quality seed to the communities.
For quality control, SEMEAR partnered with the Seed Inspection Unit to inspect and certify community seed fields and served as a link for the seed producers to arrange their inspections in the future. The project also linked community seed producers and small seed enterprises to seed companies to enable them to market their seeds through a network of agro-dealers and retailers within and outside their communities, and at the same time sell seeds directly to local farmers in the communities. Through awareness-creation activities on the use of quality seeds, smallholder farmers have developed trust in seeds produced locally. This is reflected in the gradual reduction in recycling of their own saved seeds. “I prefer seeds produced in my community since the germination is very good, and I’m always assured of good quality seed, and at the same time, the price is affordable compared to the same seeds from the seed companies that are sold here,” says Linda Saide, a farmer in Monapo. She purchased seeds from one of the local seed producers, Musa Ali.
The project trained 19,220 stakeholders (40% female). For seed producers, the training focused on seed production, quality control, seed enterprise development and management, demand creation, and marketing while for farmers, the focus was on variety selection, best planting windows for various crops across agro-ecologies, use of inputs and other good agronomic practices. Working with partners, SEMEAR established 6,100 on-farm demonstration plots managed by farmers or seed producers (43% female) to showcase the potential of improved varieties and good cultural practices. The demonstration plots were used for field training, field days and farmer exchange visits. Gender inclusion was important for the sustainability of SEMEAR since women do most of the field activities on legumes. Therefore, the project ensured that schedules for training sessions and other events were convenient for women. The project also increased the number of postharvest processing and nutrition training sessions of interest to women.
Overall Project Achievements
Over the project duration, SEMEAR established 139 partnerships with private sector companies, community organizations and public agencies, which assisted the project in many ways:
- There were 115,206 households reached, directly benefitting 475,000 individuals, including 33% female and 36% youth.
- Among the beneficiaries, 410,500 individuals (36% female and 26% youth), which constitutes 86%, applied improved technologies and cultural practices on 575,660 hectares. Quality seeds of improved varieties were planted on 42% of this area, whereas 58% was under improved production practices.
- There was a 48% increase in smallholder productivity, resulting from a 33% increase in the adoption of improved varieties combined with quality seed and the use of good agronomic practices in the project zones.
- These achievements have translated into significant gains in gross margins, more food on the table and resilient livelihoods.