Mozambique; diseases

Mozambican smallholder farmers besieged by drought, pests and diseases

Smallholder farmers surveyed in the Mozambican districts of Quelimane, Inhassunge and Cinde are concerned about productivity threats like drought, erratic rains, rodents, pests and poultry diseases.

The results are contained in a report entitled Mainstreaming Disaster Risk In Agriculture: An XSCEL Learning Paper compiled by a consortium including Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe and the Organisation for Refuge, Asylum and Migration.

“Drought and irregular rainfall was unanimously cited by participants as the worst disaster to affect them. Surveyed farmers generally defined a drought by the failure of rice, which is the main crop. They also explained that droughts lead to the wastage of seeds as sowing is repeated in the hope that rain will eventually occur. They also noted that drought is associated with increased impact of pests.

“Both midline and endline data shows that over 70% of farmers experienced drought in the past 2 years. Drought is associated with food insecurity and malnutrition, indeed, participants in Nicoadala reported ‘surviving through the foraging and consumption of forest products’ in 2016,” the report said.

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Pests were cited as the second large-impact challenge for crop farmers, while rats and mice were described as “by far the worst nuisance” that is particularly destructive to crops in the fields, as well as stored grains and seeds.

“Other most-described plagues are insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars as well as leaf rot (or yellow leaf) disease, which is lethal on coconut plantations. Newcastle disease was cited as the third greatest challenge that kills a great number of chickens during the same period of each year, ‘when the mango trees begin to flower’,” the report said.

Limited access to information and low level interactions with government agricultural extension officers also leave farmers struggling to make informed decisions on how to protect their crops and livestock.

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