This article was originally written by CNFA and published by Medium here.
The farmers’ group Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Comunitario (ADEC) expects to generate record vegetable sales by the end of this year.
However, the future for ADEC has not always been so bright. Since its formation in 2014, the group has faced struggles in producing quality products that sold well in the local market in Mozambique.
ADEC members proudly show off a large turnip from their latest harvest
Its 44 members (approximately 80% are women farmers) were losing a significant portion of their crops because they were not implementing proper storage techniques. Each year, more of their fields would become infested with pests, and they found that the crop protection tools they previously relied were no longer as effective.
When CNFA first deployed volunteer support under the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, ADEC’s soil was facing exhaustion. In total, the group has hosted four volunteers from the U.S., and each has helped them to improve their agriculture practices in different ways.
Before each F2F training session, the women of ADEC would begin with a prayer and dance — to set their intention of coming together as a community to improve their livelihoods. On average, around half of the members were able to attend each training — given other responsibilities — but the group’s sense of community was strong. At the end of every day, those in attendance would endeavor to share their new knowledge with those who could not attend.
Volunteer Tiffany Stoker-Riggs’ training, for example, has helped the group to improve its post-harvest handling, processing, and storage techniques.
“They are strong, powerful women and they will continue to profit, no matter what obstacles appear,” said Tiffany Stoker-Riggs.
Other assignments, like that of volunteer SenSeong Ng’s on pest management, have helped the group realize a 50% reduction in crop infestation while reducing their overall dependence on pesticide use.
“Their pest management techniques are now more sustainable. What’s even better is that they are also a key group in influencing the practices of communities around them,” said SenSeong Ng.
ADEC has also taken additional steps to improve the health of their soil as a result. They now implement vermiculture compost and cover cropping, and they have diversified with other profitable crops such as beets, turnips, celery, swiss chard, and redhead cabbages.
By coming together as a community to help each other learn, grow, and keep more — these farmers are selling an additional 30% of produce at market.