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FAO in Mozambique

FAO- supported Farmer Field School in Manica Province starts second round of savings after gathering approx. 100,000 MZN in the first one

FFS counting the savings

It is Friday again, 7am, and Emília Manuel sits on the mat she unrolled over the threshing floor at the Farmer Field School (FFS) she is vice-president and facilitator of.

After a one-week break, the second loan and savings round at Kulima Kakanaka, her FFS, starts today. Throughout the last six months, Friday was the day she and her peer farmer members of the School (another 19 women and 5 men) longed for: this is because Friday was the day when they not only carried out their activities on the joint farm in the village of Nhamuenga, Gondola District, Manica Province, but also sat together for the savings group – each member was to contribute weekly with at least 50 metical, at most 250. When the group distributed the total amount gathered at the end of the first round last Friday (February 8), they counted 98.255 metical, in contributions, interests and fines.

Emília Manuel tells that she contributed with 6.000 metical in total during the first round and received more than 8.000 at the end. With the money, she says, she paid the university fees of her youngest daughter as well as all educational material and clothes for her and her two siblings. The rest she put aside "to go have some soda one day". Especially women have been empowered: "they came in masses, many, many, many of them", she recalls. "They use the money very well, they want to multiply it." And she tells that one woman who did not have the chance to start any business before the first savings round bought bananas from the community with the money she received, sold them in the City of Beira and came back with profit. But women's empowerment goes beyond financial issues: the management commission of the group consists of three women (and two men), including the group president.

Emília's FFS belongs to the FFS network, with which the project "Strengthening capacities of agricultural producers to cope with climate change for increased food security through the FFS approach in Mozambique" works. This project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in support of the Government of Mozambique.

“FAO mapped the vulnerability risks caused by climate change at the FFSs where it works in order to diversify the climate change adaptation measures, looking beyond agricultural practices”, the project coordinator in Manica Province, Roide Tores, explains. “With the information we gathered, we focused on the need to enhance the financial stability of the FFSs”, Tores adds. “This way, we guarantee that the members have access to informal micro-finance services and are able to start other income-generating activities.”

Kulima Kakanaka is one out of four FFSs in the province with credit and savings groups trained by community based organizations (CBOs) specialized in financial education that have been supported by FAO. In the trainings the groups learnt how to create a Village Loan and Savings Group (VLSG), how to formulate its statute and how loans and savings work within such groups.

The specialist in economic empowerment at the association Kubatsirana, Idélito Joaquim Musserife, was one of the trainers of Emília’s savings group. “Since the members are financially empowered, because the profits are high, and they have the possibility to plan and fulfil their dreams, many people look for this type of service.”

The technicians both of the CBOs and the District Services of Economic Activities (SDAEs) who followed the group meetings, encourage feelings of trust and cohesion among the members: “The unity among them is visible, even at the FFS, in the joint planning and performing of the activities”, the SDAE technician for agricultural extension in Gondola, Adolfo António, confirms. “Everyone works towards a joint objective, there is mutual help between them.”

In the meantime, the other group members arrive. Women wear the local capulanas they bought for the group, men have made shirts out of it. The treasurer has the money box and soon everyone will put the weekly 50 to 250 metical in it.