Farming is a business.
Village-based agriculture advisors are arming farmers in Northern Mozambique with business management skills to commercialize their farming for increased productivity and incomes.
Using farming cooperatives model as an entry point, OTUMIHA is a farmer capacity building initiative to help farmers turn productivity into profits. The initiative is supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Smallholder farmers involved in farming cooperatives know what they grow but often fail to access viable markets for their produce. Many lack critical business management skills. Lack of skills to develop business, plans to negotiating the right prices are a hurdle to farming success.
OTUMIHA uses village-based advisors to act in the interest of producers, advising them on day-to-day farming operations and teaching them the business rules in a language they understand.
Agira Paulo is an accountant at the Cooperativa Moreno Agrária Limitada, cooperative, in the Monapo District of Nampula province, north of Mozambique. The cooperative has 825 members – the majority are women and they produce almost 3 tons of cereal and other products on 300- ha.
“I participated in the training offered by OTUMIHA and I liked it because I did not even know how to make a production plan, “says Helena Joaquim, Vice-president of Cooperativa Moreno Agrária Limitada. “Today I can do it by myself. It all helps me to save money which I need to invest in useful and important things for me and my family.”
Cooperative members process and sell various produce. As a result, women have been able to make savings, something they have not done before. Since 2011, the number of the women joining has increased because of the benefits members have realized from savings.
“I decided to join the cooperative, by absolute necessity. It was not easy to me to do business as an individual but a group offers many solutions to problems once faces as a farmer,” explains Agira Paulo who was trained in business planning and proposal writing.
“I have my farm; in fact each member must have their own farm, or another profitable business to be accepted for training. I grow soybeans, corn and beans on two hectares each,” said Agira, who has benefitted from selling more products at better prices through aggregation.
Noberto Luis, an agro dealer in the Meconta district, is a beneficiary of training under the OTUMIHA project. In the past, he lost money because of poor planning and bad decisions in when buying produce from farmers.
The OTUMIHA project helped him to be better organized. He now buys better quality produce because he can negotiate better terms.
“Today, for example, I have two big customers that buy from me because I deliver quality products. The project allowed me to grow my business and profitability”, explained Luis.