MOZAMBIQUE – Solidaridad and Wageningen University & Research have together carried out a successful program on good agricultural practices in potato farming that has shown that potato production could achieve realistic yields and resource efficiency.
The program, funded by Zambezi Valley Development Agency, was carried out in Northern Mozambique’s Zambezi Valley, which has a sufficient water supply and is a good agroecological region for potato farming.
Despite this potential, small-scale farmers have limited bargaining power with buyers.
Furthermore, a number of challenges—such as exorbitant fertilizer prices and scarce access to certified seeds—exacerbate these problems.
As a result, there are few potato producers in the valley due to inefficient fertilizer use, insufficient soil nutrients, ineffective pest and disease management, and low yields.
Having identified potato farming as a significant area of income opportunity for many households, Wageningen University & Research and Solidaridad partnered with input suppliers Omnia, Montesco, and Bayer to launch a potato programme in Tete and Manica.
The project’s objective was to show smallholders how to produce food using contemporary, sustainable methods.
One of the main goals of the program was to raise awareness among a larger group of farmers and motivate them to employ simple cultivation schemes and techniques, optimal inputs, and readily adoptable technology and know-how.
The demo fields were developed in Tsangano, Vanduzi, and Angonia in 2022. The partners created a condensed plan with just one variety, Mondial.
In order to help farmers get the best results, the Wageningen University & Research team highlighted good agricultural practices.
Farmers learned the necessary cultivation methods on the demonstration plots, including proper irrigation, row spacing, planting depth, and plant spacing.
“We simplified fertilization to achieve 40 metric tonnes/ha and used one-acre plot spacing. Farmers were also required to implement integrated pest management and use a preventive approach to late blight using modern agrochemicals,” said Solidaridad.
Results from the demo plots were better than expected, particularly in Angonia.
Even with a 30% loss from aggregate production, the yield across the three plots was 34.3 metric tonnes/ha on average.
With CT 400 seed, the 25 cm x 90 cm planting technique, and 40 metric tonnes (MT) of fertilizer, the average profit for a one-hectare plot of potatoes was 1,039,702 MZN (U.S$ 16,272).
The success of farmers like Fabiao Miguel is a clear indication of the project’s influence, said Solidaridad.
After taking part in the experiment for two years, Fabiao, who grows potatoes on a quarter-hectare plot, noticed a considerable boost in his harvests.
Following the implementation of good agricultural practices, he was able to harvest 25 MT as opposed to the previous 15 MT.
“After what I have learned, I am already making a difference, and I feel I am on the right track, based on the volumes I am harvesting now,” he said.
According to Solidaridad, a yield of 35–55 MT of potatoes could be achieved with good agricultural practices implementation, timely inputs, motivation, and commitment.
“Going forward, we should explore possible schemes for farmers to access inputs, and encourage input suppliers like Omnia to continue to set up infrastructure in the valley.
“By working together, we can ensure that small-scale farmers like Fabiao Miguel can reap the benefits of improved yields and profitability, leading to a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities,” he said.