When Sara Penicela’s family gathered for meals, it wasn’t school they were having heated debates about, it was the rain and the affect it would have on crops. It wasn’t local gossip that had them shouting over each other as they sat down for dinner ,it was the different methods of taking care of their crops, recalls Sara Penicela.
Bonding over agricultural issues was a norm Penicela grew up with, and she would later make it a norm in her own household years down the line. “We were born and grew up with farming traditions; my parents have a farm and an orchard with different types of fruit trees,” says Penicela. “It made us responsible from a young age, we had to take care of some of the fruit trees and in some ways we got emotionally attached to the plants.”
These conversations also made her aware of the issues that many smallholder farmers were facing, not just in her community, but in the continent.
Penicela is the latest recipient of the Agribusiness Partnership Contract (APC) with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP). Using APC’s, AFAP has been able to reach out to agribusinesses that are committed to make contributions aimed at bolstering fertilizer markets.
Penicela now the Agricultural Manager of Insumus Agricola Veterinaro (IAV) in Chimoio, Mozambique says she took conversations she had with her family and the experience of growing up in a farm and used those to address some of the smallholder farmer challenges in the agricultural sector.
“With AFAP’s support I will be reaching out to 9,400 farmers In Manica and Sofala provinces,” says Penicela. “By increasing IAV’s storage capacity IAV will also increase the seed & pesticides provision capacity, and increase our income.”
“I have been able to open agro-dealerships in various districts, which cuts down on distance and cost for many smallholder farmer,” she says. “It makes me happy to report that we are mostly selling fertilizer to the communities who were not using it due to lack of access to it, and in packages that they could afford” Penicela says.
According to her, she has already witnessed an increase in production amongst smallholder farmers.
Penicela’s father is an agricultural technician and her mother has availed herself to various small agricultural initiatives. “It would have been peculiar if I had done something outside of agriculture,” Penicela laughs. “Of my eight siblings, four of us went on to do a Diploma in Agriculture.”
Penicela says as she was growing up, some of the topics that came up at the table were the challenges of farmers not using fertilizer. “My father is an agricultural technician and he understood that fertilizer was an important prerequisite for enhancing agricultural productivity and food security. In Mozambique, many small-scale farmers are not familiar with the use of fertilizer,” she said.
“At the moment, many farmers still do not know about fertilizer itself to speak to its pro’s and con’s,” Penicela says. “However the Government has set up some favourable policies regarding the agricultural sector, and organizartions such as AFAP are giving the much required helping hand”
“Hopefully the discussion of increased fertilizer will be part of heated discussions not just in peoples households, but in parliament, forums and important public and private sector meetings.”