While the agriculture sector employs the vast majority (over 80%) of the country’s workforce in Mozambique, there are challenges facing the country, in particular in maintaining the desired levels of smallholder agricultural productivity and productivity growth in the sector.
Upon returning from his studies in Australia, Alumnus Sergio Pereira wasted no time in channelling his enthusiasm, commitment and newly gained skills and knowledge to making contributions to agricultural development through research and technology.
“When I left for Australia to study for my Masters degree, I had a very strong passion for agricultural development. The knowledge and skills I acquired in my studies have put me in a better position to make significant contributions towards this objective,” reflects Sergio.
Upon completing his Masters of Agriculture at the University of Sydney in 2009, Sergio returned to Mozambique and was promoted from Trainee to Assistant Researcher in the Ministry of Science and Technology in Maputo under the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Technological Development. In 2012, Sergio received a second award, a Fellowship to study Dryland Farming at the University of Queensland.
Sergio has since been involved in many agricultural projects implemented in different provinces under co-funding schemes between the Ministry and other donor agencies. These projects involve multiple stakeholders at grassroots, national and regional levels.
One of the main agricultural development projects that Sergio has been involved in is the establishment in mid-2011 of the Centre for Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer of Umbeluzi, located in Boane district, Maputo province. Sergio was part of the team that designed and established the centre.
The centre provides training to smallholder farmers and also designs, tests and disseminates innovative and affordable agricultural technologies and practices, such as small-scale mechanisation, soil and water management, conservation agriculture and weed control.
“The centre resulted from a partnership between my Ministry and the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique,” explains Sergio. Since its establishment, more than 100 smallholder farmers from various provinces have been trained in the use of innovative and affordable agricultural technologies and practices.
Building on the successes of the Umbeluzi centre, Sergio was more recently involved in the design of a Centre for Leadership in Rice Research in Nicoadala village, Zambezia province. He was again part of the team coordinated by the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique, which designed the project for the creation and establishment of the centre. This is an initiative funded by World Bank, which also involved the Eduardo Mondlane University.
“The centre aims to generate and disseminate technologies and training to around 100,000 smallholder rice farmers and is expected to contribute to strengthening the national capacity of agricultural research in Mozambique,” adds Sergio. This five-year project was recently approved by the Board of Directors of the World Bank. Its implementation is scheduled to start in 2014.