MOZAMBIQUE – Solidaridad, an international civil society organization, has joined forces with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mozambique and INNOQ, a food security institute, to create a local Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standard called the Mocambique Boas Practicas (MozBoPa).
This is in response to a study that disclosed high levels of pesticide residue on produce sold around Mozambique.
The Standard, which seeks to improve smallholder production and facilitate access to preferential markets, has now been finalized with pilots taking place in Maputo, Manica, Manhiça, Mafuiane, and Angonia. These pilots ensure that smallholders have the capacity to produce good quality, traceable produce at the correct quantity at the right time.
For many years, Mozambique has faced an increase in chronic and sometimes fatal diseases caused by contaminated produce, according to Solidaridad.
In May 2018, Solidaridad conducted a baseline study to assess the production systems used by horticulture farmers in Mozambique and collected fruit and vegetable samples from various sales points across the country for a “pesticide residue analysis.”
As expected, the results revealed an abnormally high presence of pesticide residue with deltamethrin residue level averaging at 0.04 mg/kg, which is three times more than the maximum levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study also found that the misuse of pesticides was primarily due to the farmers’ lack of knowledge, leading to improper and unregulated handling.
Solidaridad has since collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture and INNOQ which serves as the food security parastatal institute of standardization and quality and other stakeholders to develop and implement MozBoPa.
Launching an inclusive standard
The standard is presently still voluntary thus smallholder farmers can adopt it to gain access to more sustainable markets. Solidaridad is partially subsidizing the certification of farmers registered with them as part of the pilot.
“While we cannot reach all smallholders, we do seek to prove the impact of compliance at smallholder level, otherwise the standard will be perceived as an exclusive standard set to only benefit commercial farmers,” noted Solidaridad.
The organization added that in order to build Mozambique’s capacity for food safety production, this process must be inclusive and the standard incorporated into the country’s GAPs.
“All market actors, including government officials, chemical suppliers and retailers, must be committed to this initiative,” it highlighted.
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The Organization is together with the Ministry of Agriculture currently working on making the standard compulsory for all farmers.
This will ensure the production of good quality fruit and vegetables and increase farmers’ livelihood through access to markets and better prices for their produce.
“Once that is finalized, we will officially launch the standard. However, the standard is available for purchase and dissemination. Interested parties can purchase the standard through INNOQ for 650 meticais. Solidaridad will train government officials to implement the standard and facilitate training for their farmers,” explained Solidaridad.
Further, it will also provide training to farmers and help them through the certification process.