Understanding the benefits of the Australia Awards initiative

After returning home from my Masters course in Australia, I joined the Social Program component of a mining company operating in Tete, a central province of Mozambique. My main task was to ensure that the program was providing proper agricultural support to the farmers living in the resettlement areas (agricultural inputs and technical support). When I began working in the resettlement area, I was advised that, although the region was prone to drought (low rain season), the local farmers were not using drought- tolerant crops, such as cassava (manioc esculent). The farmers were utilising other crops, such as maize, groundnuts and peanuts, which were possible to produce, but susceptible to drought. I knew that they would always have food shortages, unless something could be done.

I decided to introduce cassava in the resettlement area. In order to do this, I needed to convince the farmers that cassava was one of the appropriate crops for those agro-ecological conditions. In order to achieve this, my team and I decided to establish demonstration fields in farming areas. We achieved this, and the cassava grew well, even with little rain. It was amazing to see the farmers’ surprise at how much food they were storing. Despite the little rain, the plants were still green.

The following season, these farmers wrote a letter to a social project asking them to provide them with cassava material to plant. It was fantastic for me and my team to observe how rapidly these farmers decided to adopt cassava planting. Usually, farmers take time to adapt to new practices and techniques.

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