Women in Agriculture – Raquel Ernesto: Interest in Hode Boosts Productivity – Agribusiness Strengthened the Spirit of Sharing

06 Jul 2021

Raquel Ernesto, who started a seed business by selling small quantities in a mixed-trade stall in the village of Hode in Chibabava, said she was experiencing a new stage in her life.


“Everything changed in my life and that of the farmers of this community when  Food security, climate Adaptation and Resilience (FAR) implemented its activities in Hode. Our responsibility has increased because we support several pillars, among them, the economic and social pillars. I mention the economic domain because our whole population earns its livelihood from agriculture; and the social because whenever the spirit of sharing is strong, we all become family,” Ernesto explained.


Raquel Ernesto said she did not believe it when the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) staff arrived in the interior of Chibabava district, asking questions about the necessity of bringing agricultural inputs closer to the farming community. Initially she thought it was a joke at the very least, or if not that, then a promise that would never be kept.


In fact, she did not believe it was feasible to install a shop dedicated to the sale of agricultural inputs in that region. “I could not believe it. The mistrust became more acute the longer the process took, first because of tropical cyclone Idai that hit our region, and then due to the COVID-19 pandemic,”, she said.


Ernesto then explained that a light began to appear at the end of the tunnel, when once again she started receiving frequent calls and visits from staff connected to FAR. She said that this team contacted governmental and traditional authorities, as well as local farmers.


“I started to realize that this was a serious issue when contacts became more frequent. FAR spent time and financial resources taking us through training on how to handle and store agricultural inputs, the business environment, and provided contacts with suppliers of various types of inputs, until the moment of the actual delivery of the shop. I am speechless because my life and that of the farmers has changed for the better,” she confirmed.


There were many elements in preparing for the opening of the agricultural inputs shop that were remarkable.


 “What amazed me was the training cycle and capacity building carried out by FAR, both of which must have incurred them considerable costs. I was also impressed that the shops had much better infrastructure, which resulted in seeds being kept in better condition,” Ernesto said.


In the Hode region, where the “Raquel Ernesto” shop was set up, many farmers had never used fertilizers before. This type of input was completely new for the producers, who even regarded it as “magic” to increase productivity. Naissone Makoose, Hode’s leader, explained that farmers will no longer have to travel long distances just to purchase seed. One of Hode’s notable producers João Baptista agreed. “FAR had freed the region’s farmers,” he enthused.


Editor’s notes:


Food security through climate Adaptation and Resilience in Mozambique (FAR): FAR is a programme under Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)-funded integrated programme that is aimed to improve food security and resilience to climate change shocks for smallholder farmer households in the provinces of Manica and Sofala in Mozambique. On the other hand, the FAR Programme aim to create sustainable climate-smart agricultural solutions (CSA) for Mozambiquan farmers, who often face challenges of food security due to harsh conditions brought about by climatic changes.


African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP): The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) is an independent non-profit organization founded in 2012 by a partnership of African development organizations. It was built on the work of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), a framework for achieving ambitious agriculture development goals set in place by African nations and leaders. AFAP has since evolved into a social enterprise and service provider to the public and private sectors on sustainable development projects and policies focused on market-driven business solutions in the agriculture inputs and agribusiness value chain. AFAP combines technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation.