Some of the technological excellence that revolutionised Brazil’s tropical agriculture is reaching small producers in Mozambique. But it is not enough to compensate for the underfinancing of the sector.
For the few plant breeders in Africa like Vivian Oduro, working for an international research institution is an obvious choice, with prestige and benefits any agricultural scientist would find hard to decline.
Rodolfo Razão, an elderly small farmer in Mozambique, obtained an official land usage certificate for his 10 hectares in 2010, but he has only been able to use seven. The rest was occupied by a South African company that grows soy, maize and beans on some 10,000 hectares in the northeast of the country.
In downtown Maputo, the walls are covered with the local newspaper, Verdade, and a range of people, young and old, male and female, are reading it. Verdade, which means Truth in Portuguese, is a free weekly newspaper that is pasted on the walls of buildings in Mozambique’s capital.
Mounds of sand and rubble are what are left of sections of Maputo’s beachfront road as bulldozers, manned by Chinese construction workers, tear up the road that is being rebuilt. Southern Africa is under construction and the reminders are everywhere.
Lined up along the streets of central Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, are expensive, European-style bars and restaurants with sophisticated names like Café Continental, Nautilus, 1908 and Mundos.
Mozambique is proud home to not one, but two female rappers who are both qualified lawyers. Yveth “Vauvita” Matunza is striking. She is tall, wearing shoes with enormous stilettos. She has on full make up and a smart, tailored dress suit. She is doing her masters part time while working full time at the Mozambican Human Rights League offices - and rapping on her off time.
As Mozambique tries to recover from the worst flooding here since 2000, experts have called for a national discussion on water management and how to maximise its usage in favour of long-term sustainable development.
Mozambican farmers’ unions believe that soon land will become very scarce for locals as the government leases more and more of it to foreign agribusinesses – thus displacing thousands of rural communities and smallholder farmers with no official title deeds to their land.
A nurse working in a remote clinic in Mueda, a small town in northern Mozambique’s Makonde Plateau, receives a shipment of vaccines from the national health department. Using special software on her mobile phone, she sends out a mass text message to alert mothers in the area about the availability of immunisations.
It is a tried and tested truth that when women come together in groups they can address their issues more powerfully than they can as individuals.
Carolina Poalo strikes the dry earth over and over with her hoe, her frail body bent almost double. She is determined to begin planting. During the long, dry season in Mozambique, she and her two young grandchildren have eaten little but cassava leaves.
Every Wednesday at 11.00am José Alfredo Cossa unfurls his East German flag and leads a march of around 150 men and women down the main streets of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. In a struggle for justice that has been going on for more than 20 years this group, known as the “Magermans”, represent the 16,000 to 20,000 Mozambicans who were sent to the former East Germany in the early 1980s to work and serve their country.
When you board Mozambique’s national carrier, Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique, you will most likely be given small blue packets of peanuts to munch as the jet whisks you from the country’s capital, Maputo, to as far afield as Europe. Sugar, salt or chilli flavour. Take your pick.
Along a dirt road in Mozambique’s Sofala province, a long line of men on bicycles stretches into the distance, each carrying an impossibly big bag of charcoal strapped to his bike.