Farmers in areas left devastated by Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique have started to receive much-needed agricultural inputs thanks to a joint effort by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to assist hard-hit rural families to get a head-start on the impending secondary growing season.

In Manica and Sofala provinces, an initial 15 000 vulnerable households – or around 75 000 people – will receive agricultural kits containing hoes, machetes and early-maturing maize and bean seeds that, once sown, will be ready to harvest after just 90 days. The distribution will take place alongside food rations from the World Food Progamme (WFP), which will help to deter beneficiaries from consuming the seeds immediately rather than planting them.

Farmers in these two provinces alone produce approximately 25 percent of the national cereal output, but they saw nearly all of their assets swept away by Idai. Most lost all or large portions of their seed stores as well as the standing crops they were about to harvest.

FAO’s agricultural kit distributions will ensure that the most resource-strapped farmers in Manica and Sofala can plant their crops in the current secondary agricultural season, for which sowing started in April and harvests will be in July.

“Reviving livelihoods and markets as soon as possible is crucial to help farmers, fishers and pastoralists get back on their feet in time for the main planting season in October and beyond,” said the FAO Representative in Mozambique, Olman Serrano. “The smaller second planting season is now underway, leaving an increasingly narrow window of opportunity to sow early-maturing crops such as the beans and maize FAO is distributing. These can be harvested around 90 days after planting and go some way to filing the productive gap left by the massive losses suffered in this main harvest,” he said.

In addition to food, beneficiary households will also be able to produce their own seeds for planting in October, when the country’s main agricultural season is set to begin. Safeguarding the main season and ensuring that rural families are able to fully participate in it is critical to restoring food security in Mozambique, where Idai’s impacts have been ruinous for both lives and livelihoods. Fisheries infrastructure, food and grain stores, and livestock were washed away, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops are reported to be completely wiped out.

Source: National News Agency