Hope grown: Seeds and tools help farmers in Mozambique
Jan 15, 2020
Cupo—a small town, in the Southeast of Mozambique—no longer bears any resemblance to its long-established “fields of green” reputation. After three years of drought, crops have failed, and the people living there do not have enough food to eat or sell. Finding water is a daily struggle because the village wells, even the deeper ones, have run dry. People now have to walk for half a day just to find drinking water.
For the first time in many years though, it rained and everyone rejoiced. This was even more joyful because it coincided with CARE’s distribution of drought resistant seeds and tools to help villagers cope with the extreme climate. Martha Chiruca is one of the people who received seeds and tools.
“This year, I will produce a plentiful crop after three years without much rain,” explains Martha. “We hope it continues raining as we now have seeds to cultivate. With the tools (hoe and machete) I received from CARE, I will be able to work on my farm, cut trees and bushes and prepare the soil for planting.”
What exactly are drought-resistent seeds? They are crops like sorghum, cowpea, ground nuts (peanuts), pineapple seedlings, maize and millet, which grow better in dry soil. CARE has given these kinds of seeds to more than 47,000 farmers in the area and is also providing basic training in improved agricultural practices to help communities better adapt to the effects of climate change now and in the future.
“Before the drought,” says Martha, “I could plant and grow crops and find enough to eat and sell, but since then it has been very hard to meet even the basic needs. The biggest challenge has been getting food for me and for my family.”
Many families are still recovering from the droughts of 2015-16, which was the Mozambique’s worst in 35 years. The severe food shortage continues to take a heavy toll, especially on children under the age of five, with some 67,500 children already severely malnourished.
Elena Reginaldo is a mother of three. She has been a farmer since she was a child and could always harvest enough to feed her family. But with the intense heat of the sun these days, everything has dried up.
“We do not have anything,” she says. “We are not able to prepare a proper meal for our children.”
Elena relies on her farm to feed her children and as income to be able send them to school since her husband abandoned her.
Cupo used to be a fortunate town in terms of agriculture, with fruit trees everywhere and fields covered with crops. But after the devastating drought, the farmers of Cupo are no longer able to predict when—or if—the rainy season will come.
“When we expect it to rain, it doesn’t, and then sometimes we have heavy rains and it turns our farmlands into swamps,” says Elena.
Every day, farmers in Mozambique—many of them women—are faced with the challenges of the country's extreme weather. Many of these extremes are the result of climate change, and much more is needed to prioritize climate change adaptation, especially for the world’s poorest communities. In Mozambique, and elsewhere, CARE is working to anticipate climate-related crises and act early in order to help mitigate the impact of climate change and, ultimately, save lives and livelihoods.