FAO in Mozambique

The application of methodological principles of Pastoralist Field School (PFS) results in an increase in the production of local chicken in Mabalane district


Gilda Sitoe, 37 years old, mother of 5 children and Raulina Bothoza, 51 years old, mother of 4 children, are two members of the Pastoralist Field School (PFS) members at the Combomune Rio, Mabalane district. Both have been members of the PFS since 2020.

Under the FAO project: UNJP/MOZ /128/EC - Pro-Resilience Action in Mozambique" which was aiming at increasing the resilience and food security of vulnerable groups to drought and natural disasters in the districts of Guijá and Mabalane, in the province of Gaza, both were given the opportunity to learn good practices on local chicken raising and increasing production and consumption within their community.

According to Gilda Sitoe, raising chickens is a tradition inherited from their ancestors without any kind of investment. According to her, one of the main problems she had in the past was the high mortality rate caused by Newcastle Disease as well as losses from predators, rain and strong winds. "The chickens spent the night in the treetops, in the backyard of the house, exposed to the risk of predation by birds of prey, rain, winds, etc. These factors associated with Newcastle Disease caused high losses of chickens, and in some circumstances, even losing the entire flock" explained Gilda Sitoe.

She explained that when she joined the PFS initiative, she was given the opportunity to learn about the way to properly take care of her chickens, which included the built of simple coop to protect them from rain, strong winds, predators, etc.
According to Gilda Sitoe, who previously had only seven chickens and 35 now, using the chicken coop, she began to experience good results, such as the reduction of losses from predators, strong winds and rains and, the consequent increase in the number of chickens. Another great advantage of raising poultry is the easiness to control and handling during vaccination and other interventions.

For Raulina Bothoza, a member of the same PFS since 2020, the use of chicken coops facilitates the management and control of chickens. Another important aspect that she learned was the need to carry out the prevention of Newcastle Disease in chickens through vaccination campaigns, three times a year, in the months of March, July and November. "The benefit for me and for all the families adopting these practices is to have chickens available every year for consumption at home, for selling to cover household expenses as well as for traditional ceremonies," explained the farmer who previously had six chickens and now has 37.

Gilda, Raulina and the entire PFS group are assisted by Alexandre Mate, technician from the Distrital Services of Economic Activities (SDAE) of Mabalane living in the same community.

Alexandre Mate received training in the PFS methodology in September 2020 to facilitate the establishment of schools in the community of Combomune Rio. The PFS can be described as a "School without Walls", where groups of pastoralists learn through observation and experimentation based on methods of adult education. This method of learning by doing, allows the pastoralists to develop their analytical and decision making skills to solve problems in their own context, resorting to their own resources and to local practices.

Alexandre explains that the PFS is made up of 30 members who voluntarily joined the initiative. "The 30 members of the School have already built their coops and are carrying out the vaccination campaigns for their chickens against Newcastle disease. As a result, outbreaks of the disease are now under control, as well as losses from predation, wind and rain," explained Alexandre. According to the technician, the great challenge is to replicate the teachings and results throughout the community in order to contribute to increasing food security by increasing the production and productivity of the local chicken.

The project is funded by the European Union and benefited more than 20 PFS groups in Gaza Province. Under FAO implementation more than 600 households are raising chicken through improved practices and health measures to grant food security and diversified food when climate change hit crops production, which is the major livelihoods.