Tag Archives: International development

Ricardo’s Beans

Innovation. It was not covered in any of the training seminars, but it is a good way to describe the general mentality of the Belas Association- innovators. From my first day I can see that it exists in this group of farmers. As I tour the fields of Associacao 7 de Abril 1 I notice a smaller plot of beans.

I ask if it is also contracted to Vanduzi Company. Ricardo tells me those are his leftover beans. He is experimenting and trying to save seed because the only source of green bean seed comes from Vanduzi Company. Local seed suppliers do not carry it. I hate to ask, but I do- “Is this hybrid seed?” Ricardo looks confused. Perhaps it is my pronunciation of hybrid. One of the CARITAS staff members accompanying me for the day repeats the question. Someone else repeats it in Shona. “Yes it is.”  I inhale and exhale and decide to give a straight forward response. “You know that hybrid seed won’t reproduce true to form.” Silence. A nod. Does it mean he knew that or is waiting for more?

“If you plant the seed from this who knows what kind of bean you will get and, well, it is also planted right next to your dry beans which could also confuse things due to cross-pollination.” He seems to remember hearing this some place before, but masks his disappointment. I say, “Well you have a great experiment going. Perhaps you will develop a new breed of bean that will be perfect for the Belas District. It will be called Ricardo I.” He laughs and says “I might be able to make a lot of money from that.” Determination. Next time I will bring Ricardo at least ten varieties of green beans for his experiment. Maybe some yellow and purple ones as well.

The group turns out to be great actors. I shouldn’t have been surprised given that I immediately picked up on their willingness to innovate. Turns out they also improvise. I give a general scenario for a sale.

One person plays the buyer, the other the seller. The goal is for the seller to close the deal to their advantage. Even when the role play takes place in Shona I understand what is going on. Rafael tries to swindle me at my market stand. He talks to me in a loud rude way. I ask him “senor why are you to talking to me in that loud voice.” At the end of the scene he claims he has no money and actually tries to walk off with the bags full of vegetables. I get loud applause for chasing him down and taking back the vegetables.

We take turns and change the scenarios. A whole sale buyer from the city calls Simao on his cell phone to buy cabbage. A buyer shows up at Lucia’s farm demanding a good deal. I play a lost city person who shows up at Ricardo’s farm and wants to buy lots of vegetables. We switch back and forth between Shona and Portuguese depending on who is playing the roles.

Many times Rafael volunteers to be the buyer. We start calling him “the swindler”. I learn a lot from him. Much of what he improvises is likely reality. “You need to lower your price because I arrived here late in the day and now it will be difficult for me to get a ride back to the city. I will have to wait all night”, he tells one woman playing the seller. At first she caves in until we all begin to shout at her “tell him that’s not your problem if he made a bad plan!” I love this afternoon. We laugh. We talk. We discuss. And in the end we dance, improvising without music.

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Antonio remembers the extraordinary multi-lingual street kid, Benedito, who lived in Quelimane in 1990. Sergio knows Abilio. The seed salesman lived in the same student pousada in Maputo that I did. This trip I even meet the daughter of the former ambassador to the US to whom I once wrote a letter and actually received a reply. But Elliot, the chef at the lodge where I am staying has no idea the Belas Association farmers exist and travels to Chimoio to buy his cabbage. He was shocked when I told him the cabbage he was buying came from nearby- that the guys he was buying from traveled out here to purchase the cabbage he bought in the Chimoio markets.

During the farmer trainings we brainstorm places for direct market sales. We talk about cutting out the middleman. We discuss how to overcome lack of transport to and from market. They love the Madison farmers’ market video. Ferai says he is ready to jump up and start a market like that right now.

One of the woman comments how much movement there is and if I ever get to sit down. Ricardo notices details like the bags in my back pocket and the fact the vegetables are transported in a refrigerated truck. Rafael, who turns out to be the star of the role-playing, likes that I am laughing with the customers. All of them even like that all the customers only walk in one direction around the capitol square.

But somehow after role playing various direct market sales scenarios an animated discussion begins. I’m lost. It’s all in Shona. I finally interrupt and ask for a translation. It turns out they are listing all the things that won’t work with every direct sales outlet on our list. Too small, too far, not enough people live or work there, we don’t know anyone there. I try to explain this is about creating a new future- that it is in fact more than that- it is about controlling their future. Collin, who is accompanying us for the day, tells the story of the women we gave a ride to in the morning. They were tobacco traders from Zimbabwe. One was carrying an infant. The both carried large sacks of dried tobacco scavenged from the harvest leftovers. Twice a month they crossed the border to Mozambique and traveled to the Belas District to trade the tobacco for vegetables. They were determined to change their life. They knew they had to do something and just could not sit back and discuss all the reasons they could not do something. If they can take risks, why can’t you? It had an impact. Heads nodded. The conversation then turned to how do we solve our transport problem? When we travel to the cities to sell how do we make sure we do not get ripped off? Who can we trust? How can direct sales benefit us? Do other more progressive wholesalers exist who would be willing to buy a wider range of product? Do we have to give up our Vanduzi contracts and sales to the wholesale buyers?  Let’s make signs for the highway so that customers know we exist.

Diversification. Hope. A new future. I feel the connections being made in their minds. I see eyes light up.

I’m not a person considered a super-connector by Facebook or LinkedIn standards, but I remember things and I ask a lot of questions. I remember faces. I forget the names of streets, but I can still find my way around Maputo and guide the driver to my old student lodgings along the railroad tracks. I listen carefully. And here in Mozambique I talk a lot. I hope one day that my endless story-telling, questioning and listening leads me to discover Benedito’s story after he was taken from the Quelimane streets and adopted by a well-off man in Maputo. Does he still speak seven languages? Has he had a good life? I hope his eyes are still shinning the way I remember them. I hope he is still open and friendly to everyone. I hope he now speaks ten languages and has a PhD. I hope the farmers try something new.

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Just cabbage and kale?

One thing the farmers (and market sellers) haven’t seemed to learn is market diversification. From my first day I heard about cabbage, saw cabbage and ate cabbage. Cabbage is spoiling in the Manica and Chimoio markets yet these market sellers say they could sell more. I found it so depressing I didn’t even take a photo of it. Beautiful cabbage is sitting in some farmer’s fields yet no one buys it. Yet they say they want to buy more and grow more. How come?

The farmers say they are able to make a good profit growing cabbage. This was confirmed by Bella, a PhD student from Zimbabwe who has been working with the Belas Associations and conducting some case studies. But I’ve begun to wonder. What about cucumbers, onions peppers, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach or potatoes? These twenty-something potato sellers in the 25 Junho Market in Chimio told me most of the potatoes they bought and sold were from South Africa.

They were unable to find a reliable local source for good quality potatoes. When they say good quality they are primarily talking about size, but they also value red potatoes which often are not found on the South African market. These guys also said they wanted to sell more then potatoes (unlike the cabbage sellers) and could sell almost anything. I believe them.

All they need is a local source. At least this case the young are moving faster than the older generations.

I’ve seen few new agricultural products for sale. In Manica I saw ginger, although I’m told it as been available for several years, mustard greens and broccoli rab and a few sad looking eggplant in Chimoio. Otherwise little has changed in the markets. There are perhaps more sellers and non- agricultural related business in Mercado 38. Mercado 25 de Junho has built a line of permanent stalls and cleared out a pathway for customers.

The farmers in four of the six Belas Associations have just completed four days of intensive business plan training from GAPI, a local microfinance organization. This week I’m planning to follow up on some of the theoretical concepts they learned last week- especially on the concept of diversification- why it makes good business sense and why it is good for production. Their other favorite crop couve, or Portuguese kale, is the in the same vegetable family as cabbage. Their fields are full of cabbage worms. I’m a bit worried that the photos and video of the Madison farmers market

will overwhelm them, but I’m hoping they will learn to imagine what more is possible. Growing petite green beans for Vanduzi Company is just one small step.


Filed under Mozambique 2012

Forgetting and Learning

Dusty bumpy roads just make me tired. It doesn’t help that I was forced to speak Portuguese all day on my second day of work. When I get tired I like to have a translator on hand to help me out. Maybe I’m lazy, but when I’ve just arrived and haven’t spoken a word of Portuguese in two years it minimizes the chance of total confusion. Today my translators only spoke Portuguese. I had no choice. I had to speak. Sometimes we were confused. I am exhausted.

This time around it seems I’ve forgotten more than usual. My mouth struggles to form the words. I stutter and laugh. It makes me think just how much do we forget in our lives? Where we are from? Where we went to school? Our parents? This week I heard a story of a man who forgot all those things. The people say such persons emerged from the belly of a dead man bewitched during the war. It seems it is how they explain refugees, new immigrants or those who just move to a new place. More and more people are moving for employment here in Mozambique. So many people seem to be from someplace else.

Luckily the farmers stay put. And they are learning. After a three year absence from Manica province I’m surprised by some changes. Many of the farmers have cell phones and many have contracted with Vanduzi Company, a large vegetable exporter.

They are used to foreign consultants. One group of associations has even received World Bank project funding to line their irrigation channel with cement. The roads have improved, brick houses are being built and I found strawberries for sale at a roadside stand produced by either a man from Zimbabwe or the United States depending on who you asked. Later I found much better strawberries in the Manica market where I was told they were organic or at least grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizer and that is why they tasted so much better than the ones I had purchased on the EN6. In fact, several people repeated this to me over the course of my stay. It seems this is an opportunity to promote organic production techniques. I can’t wait to start using this example during my training seminars.  I suspect, however, that most of the farmers have never eaten strawberries.

I haven’t forgotten how things were just three and a half years ago. I can also still find the markets in Chimoio and Manica. I’m encouraged as the farmers in the Belas Associations seem like they won’t forget anything I say.

And, luckily I don’t seem to forget about vegetables- just how to talk about them in Portuguese.

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So Little Time, So Much to Learn

Bailundo October 26 and 28, 2010

I’ve decided to take it slow and only conduct four training sessions with the Ekelelo or Hope Association. Besides the fact that it is the beginning of the planting season and everyone is busy, there is only so much new information that can be absorbed. I’m hoping that by focusing on less more is remembered and thus used and passed on to others.

working hard with only one hand

I’ll probably never find out if my strategy has worked, but at least I will get to check during the second practical training if the Ekelelo Association has completed their homework and finished the compost pit system and filled the first hole.

I’m also going to do my best to make sure they know their vegetable familes and understand the concept of crop rotation especially for the important Solanaceae Family that includes some of their major crops: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers.

Mulching eggplant

As in Mozambique I’ve heard some complaints about how they don’t have enough money to buy chemical fertilizer and there is no possible way they can grow good vegetables without it. Since they have no money to buy these chemicals anyway it seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce organic growing methods. Some are skeptical but most appear to be enthused. Some already know about compost and manure, but I’ve been unable to determine why they aren’t using these techniques if they know about them.

I’m hoping that by giving them options that only require hard work and organization rather than cash they will adopt them.

the president of the association also works hard

Although the complaints and the “we can’t do that” comments are far less than in Mozambique I know they are there and I’ve tried my best to keep things positive. I’m wishing I had spent some time to locate and scan old photographs of my farm in New Hampshire so I could show them how I spread manure by hand over one hectare using only a wheelbarrow . I can tell them this again and again, but I am sure some have doubts. A picture would be remembered.

So far we’ve had one classroom session and one hands-on training covering topics such as using manure as fertilizer, compost, green manure, mulching, crop rotation, and succession planting.

We’ve pretended to be different vegetable plants and sorted ourselves into families.

We’ve discussed how to estimate distances and measured our hands and feet and found where one meter is on our body so that there are no excuses for why the crop spacing is irregular or completely inaccurate.

Estimating depth

Tomorrow I will present specific crop information on four of the crops they are currently growing- tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage and kale and attempt to introduce new ideas such as small scale machinery options such as rototillers as opposed to tractors, including animals such as chicken or goats in a field rotation (for example pastured poultry),

creating fencing with a nitrogen fixing tree such as Leucaena, and show them pictures of a bamboo bicycle cart they could build as a first step to solve their market transportation issues. As they are only 3.5 kilometers from a main paved road and only 9 kilometers in total to the Bailundo market they should easily be able to get their produce to the customer. Last week we did not have electricity during the classroom session. For tomorrow’s session it will be crucial as I have many pictures to show which I am simply not talented enough to draw. At this point all I can do is keep my fingers crossed for electricity and hope that the things I show them give them new hope and energy.

Collecting compost material


Filed under Angola 2010

Something Different…

Huambo October 24, 2010

There is something different happening here in Angola, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. Is it the fat and happy dogs? Is it the multitude of new cars, plethora of motorcycles and lack of overloaded bicycles?

Motorcycle Advertisement

Is it that I haven’t yet been hassled to buy anything and everything? Is it the lack of beggars? Am I crazy for thinking that in general people are better off here? Am I observant or just extremely tired? I’ve had a long trip to get here and this is the first morning I’ve woken up completely refreshed. Is it simply that Angolans drive on the right? Is it that I did not hear any complaints during my first meeting with the agricultural association members in Bailundo?

Is it that during my first trip to the largest regional market on Saturday my simple “Bom Dia” response to stares resulted in the largest smiles ever? Is it that people actually talk about and remember the war, but don’t dwell on it? Is it that there are so many trees left standing in the city?

View of Humabo

close up of bullet holes

Is it that my Portuguese language skills are actually improving and I am feeling more comfortable with my verb tenses and am learning to use some calão (slang)? Whatever it is I’m not exactly sure, but something different is happening here.

Saturday at the Kutatu Market in Chinguary I took no photographs. This market is about one and a half hours from Huambo and located in a region that has traditionally supplied the country with vegetables. Trucks come from as far away as Luanda to buy produce on Fridays and Saturdays. At the time I thought my lack of interests in photographs was because it looked like any other market I had seen in Mozambique and that I simply did not feel like drawing even more attention to myself than I was already receiving. This morning I am certain that it was because I was completely absorbed in observing the differences. If I had the chance to go back and take photos I would take one each of the fat dogs lying in the shade under the ox cart, the small Toyota pickup truck already overloaded with 50 kilo sacks of potatoes with more being loaded on, the black pig being tied up for sale, the wild fruit called Losha

that I purchased and the woman who sold it to me for 10 kz (about $0.10), the young boys pushing wheelbarrows full of items for sale with a mini-mega phone on top of the pile that was playing an advertisement for the products, the Obama T-shirts, and the boy in the superman t-shirt staring at me who grinned and gave me the thumbs-up when I called out “Oi, Superman!”


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Knowing Where You Are and Planning for the Future

Mogovolas District, Nampula Province

September 16-22, 2010

Bit by bit I am starting to learn about the system of government organization and am now better able to pinpoint exactly where I am at any given time. Of course I often get quite mixed up as there is always a shorthand way to refer to these places or nicknames that I don’t quite catch. I am also easily confused when a few names of Agricultural Associations are thrown into the mix. Last week for example I was in Localiadade Muvuruta, Posto Muatua, Mogovolas District, Nampula Province, Mozambique. Today we stayed in the Posto de Nametil,

but we could have been almost anywhere in the Mogovolas District as far as I could tell. Sometimes we come upon a surprise such as this abandonned mission.

One day we drove at least 60 kilometers to reach an agricultural association, the final 18 kilometers of which were quite rough and included several washed out bridges. We do most of our driving on what my map says are secondary roads, but some are nearly impassable.

Today we had to walk a kilometer or more after the road, or track, became impassable.

During this assignment I’ve tried my best to frame my questions to the farmers in a positive manner in an attempt to avoid the endless string of complaints which I spent a month listening to last year in Manica Province. After I am given a tour of the vegetable production area and explanations for what they are doing in the fields which often include details about the spacing of their neatly laid out rows we retreat to the shade to talk. At this point I try to steer the conversation by asking “what kinds of things would you like to learn about that you think would help you to become better farmers” and “what are your plans for the future”. Sometimes the response is complete silence, and I need to keep asking questions, other times they are far ahead of me. Today as soon as we reached the shade Jose Mario, the president of the association, began explaining how he would like someone to come and teach him how to build a proper dam.

During the rainy season his dam often collapses and needs to be rebuilt. With Jose Mario and the other members of Ndowe Naphavele, or Let’s See Association, we discussed how to transport their produce to market in Nametil nearly 20 kilometers away. I asked them to describe what they are doing now and they described the typical overloaded bike seen on every Mozambican road. I asked if they had ever considered building a cart for their bicycles and this began a animated conversation among the members, some needed to know what a cart was, others thought there would be no materials to build it, others thought they needed to know what it looked like and then Jose Mario spoke up once again and said something that surprised everyone “I saw those types of carts in Macao and in India when I was in the military. I think we could build them”.

So if anyone reading this knows of plans to build a simple bicycle trailer please post a link in the comment section and I’ll see they get to Jose Mario and the Let’s See Agricultural Association of Localiadade Mecutamala, Posto de Nametil. This conversation was encouraging as many farmers tell me they could grow more and would like to grow more, but they have a difficult time getting their produce to market. This might be one simple solution.

Mainly farmer’s ideas for the future have included expanding production areas and creating and improving irrigation systems.

Things they’d like to learn more about include crop rotation, insect and disease identification, how to use a plow and care for oxen, seedling production, and specific crop production information.

Often they seem skeptical when I talk about organic soil improvement techniques, “The plants need food in order to grow well” I’ve begun to exclaim in Portuguese, but they do listen carefully and seem willing to soak up any knowledge and ideas that are offered. My impression is that in general the farmers and extension agents in Mogovolas District would take off if given training in basic organic production methods as they all recognize that something needs to be done in order to improve and that they simply can not afford chemical fertilizers and pesticides much less travel to Nampula City to o\purchase them.  Because of the cost of fertilizers and lack of knowledge about other methods many simply choose to not use any regular or systematic soil improvement methods. Overall my impression is that these farmers are much more open and less jaded than the majority of the farmers I met last year in Manica Province. At times I wonder if this is due to less contact with NGO’s or if it is simply how Macua people are. Right now there is no way for me to know. One farmer when I commented that 20 kilometers on a bike hauling vegetables to market was a lot of work he said well I get it there “poco a poco”, little by little or bit by bit. Later in our conversation when we were talking about compost, he exclaimed “how could I possibly do that on 6 hectares of land!” and I replied well you already told me the answer, “poco a poco”, and he cracked up.

I’m not sure if this more positive attitude is actually true or if it may partially be attributed to my new method of asking questions and the slightly different nature of this evaluation. However, my gut says yes the people here are still excited by farming. They see the opportunity to increase their income since vegetables are not readily available in the markets and are expensive. They haven’t forgotten how to work hard, don’t expect handouts and want to learn as much as they can as market vegetable production is not a traditional income earning activity. This positive vibe is having a good effect on me as well so that when hearing a complaint such as “the pigs around here keep getting into my land and eating everything what should I do?” I am able reply easily and naturally, “I think you should go to those people and tell them ‘if you keep letting your pigs get fat on my vegetables I have the right to eat your pig!’”  Don’t worry. The local extension agent gave the proper answer before mine “go to the chefe de posto and tell him what is happening and make him tell the people to keep their pigs in a corral”. Anyway the chuckles all around made my day as we laughed about little pigs growing so rapidly in the vegetable fields that they could not make it home.


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Coming Full Circle, Nametil and Iuluti, Mogovolas District

September 14-15

I’ve been laughing to myself a lot lately about how my life is turning in circles. Yesterday I was taken to visit an ADPP Horticultural School just outside of Nametil where the government guest house is located. As soon as I arrived I was transported back in time; the well organized school buildings, the cleanliness, students in uniform, the pleasant receptionist, the explanation of how the school and vegetable sales work were all so classic ADPP.

I could have gone there without knowing what it was and easily guessed this is an ADPP place. The school has only existed for two years and already has 122 students with plans to expand to 180 next year. The have a total of 473 hectares with only a few hectares currently under vegetable cultivation. At some point in the future they plan to use much of the acreage for a cashew plantation. I was surprised to find that an ADPP project had a lack of irrigation, but I’m sure this won’t last for long. After our tour I began to ask our guide a few more questions and I let him know that I worked for ADPP in Matola Rio in 1990. This led to questions about “do you know…” and sure enough I may have located a great friend and colleague from those days. He apparently is only two to three hours from Nampula and running an ADPP Banana Plantation. A message has been sent to him. I’m hoping we can meet before the end of my trip.

On Wednesday after several delays we finally made it outside town today to begin our farmer visits. After a bumpy forty-two kilometer drive we arrived in Iuluti and began searching for the local agricultural agent. After some discussion we discovered that one of the agricultural associations that we wanted to visit was 23 kilometers further along the road. A long discussion ensued and then it was determined we did not have enough gas to get there. Instead we went to visit with a man who was farming alone and lived in the center of Iuluti.

Mario Joseph

His fields were small, but very nearly weed free and he grew a variety of crop close to a small river which still had water in it. His cabbage was absolutely beautiful and free of holes.

I had to ask “do you use any chemicals on your crops?” A bottled was pulled out of its hiding place in the corn.

I began to recall just why my life took the path it did. In 1990 many times I observed pesticides being used and I would ask “what are you doing” because I was interested in learning about agriculture.  From these discussions I learned that quite often people did not know proper application procedures and often could not even read the directions. This was either because the directions were in English or the person applying the pesticide was illiterate in Portuguese. This experience led me directly to interning on an organic vegetable farm upon returning to the United States. I sometimes joke that we were farms slaves but I did learn a lot and was able to use that knowledge to begin my own organic vegetable farm. Twenty years later here I am standing looking at and taking a photos of the pesticide instructions that in some ways led me here in the first place. Although the farmer follows the instructions quite well the pesticide he is using is supposed to be used for cotton, not edible produce.

The next farmer we visited was the president of an Agricultural Association called, Okalihery de Mucue, or Helping Each Other. This farmer’s passion reminded me why I strive so hard to do what I do. Anastacio had only been growing vegetables for two years and moved around the country a bit previously living in Beira and Quelimane. When he moved to this area he contacted the local agricultural extension agent for advice and has been working closely with him ever since. He spoke rapidly and was full of enthusiasm when describing his operation and his plans for the future. Before we could even introduce ourselves he began to show us his wonderful and simple irrigation system.

He plans to move his irrigation system to a lower point in his fields and expand his production area next season. His success has become known and as a result he has received a loan from the local government of 50,000 MT which he plans to use to buy better seeds, a pump, chemicals, and hire some workers to clear more land and expand his irrigation system.

He wants to learn about crop rotation in a mixed vegetable system and about insect and disease identification. I wish I could go back and thank Anastacio for his enthusiasm as he restored some of my enthusiasm. I hope another Farmer to Farmer Volunteer is able to thank him for me.

Anatacio cutting Mandioc which I later ate for dinner


Filed under Mozambique 2010

Data, data, data, Chimoio, Day 19

Many times it seems what is holding things back is the lack of information, the lack of data from which to make reliable assertions and then good decisions. My assignment is about collecting data but it feels more like a shot in the dark. Will I find the person who has the answers? During my escape to Gorongosa National Park I learned that the park is setting up a fruit drying factory at Vila Gorongosa with financial backing from the Carr Foundation and USAID. If I hadn’t taken then vacation when I did I would not have learned this information. They are already drying tomatoes and hoping that the local communities increase in income will dissuade them from cutting down the trees on Mount Gorongosa which changes the ecosystem on the mountain and the water flow into the national park.


It was a fluke that I found this out. Hopefully I will be able to visit the project before heading back to Beira next week as they are already drying tomatoes and looking for an export market.

I also wonder if the people I find to interview give me their honest answers or tell me what they think I want to hear. In the first week with when some of the farmers told us they could not get reliable price information we asked if they had a radio. The answer was yes one person in the association did have a radio, so at first we thought maybe this person did not share the information or perhaps could not afford to buy batteries, but then a long story emerged that the price information radio show did not happen on the same day of the week at the same time so they never knew when to listen to the radio. A week later we found out that this was not true, but rather a story to cover up their mistake or their inability to understand the radio show.

As an interviewer in English I  can gauge pretty quickly how someone is answering and ask the necessary follow up questions, but here in Portuguese there is a delay in my reaction time and often I am unable to ask the necessary follow-up questions in a timely manner. Half working with a translator both helps and hurts as sometimes the interview gets out of my control and important details are lost, but we can go much faster if she asks the questions and I listen to the answers only interrupting for clarification as my comprehension is coming back much more quickly than my ability to speak fluidly. Sometimes she is impatient with my follow up questions because she thinks she understood what I wanted to know and that I am the one who misunderstood. When we have to work with the three-way translation things get really complicated. Overall I think we have been doing a good job but it hasn’t been easy.

On the positive side here in Mozambique I have not felt that I’ve had to struggle against information sharing. For the most part people have been quite willing to answer questions, have their photographs taken and if there is any hesitation it is erased after we explain the project and what were are doing. Only one older woman buying vegetables at market refused to participate in our interviews. She glared at us suspiciously and told us we were from the government and she did not want to get thrown in jail. She then follow us to the next person we chose to interview and listened in while giving us the evil eye before going on her way.

My greatest struggle has been trying to find out vegetable production data. The Mozambican Agricultural Extension and Research Service does not collect data on vegetables, after many questions and interviews I feel I have an accurate estimate for the income generated by tomatoes for all actors in the value chain. The cost side is another matter completely. My data says things like “pesticides cost a lot, so we buy them and use them when we have money” and ” seeds cost a lot so sometimes I save them from last years crop, I have no idea how many tomatoes I plant per hectare”.  So here in my last week in Chimoio I am facing the same problem I often faced in the US- how to lay out an argument for collecting data. Will I be able to find the words that will convince the agricultural association trainers and managers to collect production data from farmers and encourage and train farmers to collect their own data?


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Made in Mozambique, Chimoio, Day 16

In an earlier post I wrote about how I hadn’t eaten much true Mozambican food (other than the produce I’ve bought and prepared myself) and the few Mozambican made food products I’ve been consuming have been limited to beer, mineral water, and piri piri cashews. Since then I’ve found the lemon cream biscuits I used to eat that are still made in Machava, a suburb of Maputo,


bought a bag of Mozambican sugar, and discovered Gouda Cheese made right here in Chimoio. The cheese is excellent and is packaged just as if it were made in Europe. The fancy packaging made me walk right by it in the store and it took Christina, my ShopRite tour guide to point it out to me. I bought some Gouda flavored with caraway seed. The milk for the cheese is produced on a Holstein dairy farm owed by a woman about 20 kilometers outside of Chimoio. Later I found out that the farm also produces milk and yogurt for sale, but have yet to see it in a shop. I did however have the opportunity to try the yogurt and it was delicious.

The cheese, like the lemon cream biscuits and the sugar carries the Made in Mozambique promotion symbol.


To qualify for certification, the product must be completely made in Mozambique, and the company must pay fair wages and enhance their workers quality of life. One hundred forty-four companies are currently certified. Very few food companies have yet to be certified, partially because very few exist, but the program is a promising sign for future products from Mozambique and has only been in existence since June 2006. To date the program has generated more than 45 billion meticais in transactions.

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