The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in partnership with the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Peasants Union), and Kaleidoscopio has today released preliminary findings in a research project: ‘Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers.’ Joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, the Beira Corridor plays a central role in the expansion of the Green Revolution project in Southern Africa.
The multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative has been established as Mozambique’s entry point for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report explores small-scale farmers’ agro-ecological dynamics related to seed and soil fertility in Mozambique and the expansion of the Green Revolution project. The report considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional seed agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. The report also discusses private agro-dealers as key delivery mechanisms for Green Revolution technologies, especially improved seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
In Mozambique, most seed is still reproduced by farmers themselves, with some public sector and commercial activity. Mozambique’s plant variety protection (PVP) law prohibits farmers from reproducing and reusing protected seed varieties, even if these varieties are blended with varieties that farmers have nurtured and reproduced historically. Mozambique has signed the Arusha PVP Protocol adopted by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) in July 2015. Ratification by Mozambique will lead the country to being bound to seed-related decisions at a regional level, where the private interests of multi-national corporations are favoured.
Seed certification systems, as is the case elsewhere in the region, are too stringent for small-scale farmer certified seed production. The current seed certification system not only prevents many small-scale farmers from producing certified seed because of inappropriate and stringent requirements. It also more directly threatens the maintenance and building of diverse and practical farmer-managed seed systems, since it constrains and even criminalises some essential activities on the farm which ensures agricultural biodiversity, such as freely exchanging and selling seed. It also drains public resources away from supporting farmers, and towards supporting and benefiting corporations. The report interrogates the role of the corporations and question what the real benefits of their activities are, not only for farmers but also for the ecological and food systems more generally.
The other focus area of the report is on soil fertility. The Green Revolution fertilizer push is heavily premised on the Corridor concept. Mozambique’s farmers do not use much fertilizers, because the economies of scale are not present. But farmers in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi use much more synthetic fertilizers, with fertilisers being subsidised in Zambia and Malawi by the state through farm input supply programmes (FISPs). By developing the Corridor, it is anticipated that Beira will become an entry point to the whole region to distribute synthetic fertilizers. The report points out that this will contribute to building demand in Mozambique because a portion of the fertilizers can be diverted into the domestic market on the back of existing infrastructure. At this stage in the expansion of the synthetic fertilizer project in the region, economies of scale are regional, not national, and therefore regional strategies are being deployed.
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