"I inspired many of my peers"

Sustainable agriculture
The story of Santos Fornela, a now successful and happy farmer in Mozambique

Mr. Santos Fornela is full of life and upbeat about his future. He is a father of eight – three sons and five daughters and lives with his wife and children in Sussundenga District in Manica Province. Santos worked as a hospital technician for almost 14 years but as his family grew, he had to think of ways of getting additional income to support them. He was interested in agribusiness and had done research around it but was afraid of leaving employment to venture into the sector. In 2007, he decided to overcome his fear and quit his job. He used his savings to purchase 15 hectors of land and ventured into farming maize, beans and vegetables.

Santos continued to face a barrage of challenges. Every time he hoped for a bumper harvest, he was greatly disappointed. He was only able to harvest just enough to merely sustain his needs and was not living in the comfort he desired. His productivity was constantly being affected by the sporadic climate changes. The type of seed he used was unimproved and was greatly affected by drought, floods and illnesses. He plunged into self-doubt, wondering if he had made a mistake in venturing into agribusiness as it was not sustainable. He felt that his production costs kept increasing and he was not breaking even with his sales. He was helpless as two of his eldest sons aspired to further their education, but he was unable to support them.

In 2018, he heard about the Access to food and climate resilience through market systems (AFOC-MSD) Project and was interested to learn about new approaches in farming to secure greater yields. He went through capacity building sessions that enlightened him on improved cabbage seed varieties which were available locally at reasonable prices from Klein Karoo, a seed company. With this new insight and his ambition to succeed, he planted the improved seed variety and began noticing a big difference in his product quality. Initially, he would sell a cabbage head at CHF 0.48 but was now able to double his margin to CHF 0.80. The market was willing to spend more on big, green, healthy-looking and tasty cabbages.

‘I inspired many of my peers who never envisioned such a fulfilling harvest,’ Santos recalls smiling. ‘I’m now more comfortable and able to meet my family's needs. I can afford to pay university fees for both my sons unlike before. I hope to expand my farming activities on my 15-hectare piece of land within the next two years and focus purely on improved hybrid varieties of maize, beans and vegetables. I’ve already started working towards this by purchasing a water pump to improve my water supply.’

Santos has also used part of his profit to diversify his risk in agribusiness. He has started rearing chicken and turkey and hopes to begin fish and orchard farming soon. He plans to empower his fellow farmers with the knowledge he received and through his lessons learnt from his experiences.

The Access to food and climate resilience through market systems (AFOC-MSD) project is implemented by Swisscontact; one of the implementing organisations under the FAR programme.

The FAR Programme aims to create sustainable climate-smart agricultural solutions for households in Mozambique who often face challenges of food security due to harsh climatic conditions brought about by sporadic climatic changes. It seeks to foster stable availability and access to food for 30,000 to 45,000 semi-subsistence and semi-commercial smallholder households. This project is financed by the Swedish Embassy.

2017 - 2020
Sustainable agriculture
The project aims to improve the farmers' adoption rate of improved high yielding maize and bean varieties (currently well below 20%) and drought-resistant crops with a short production cycle.The project will raise awareness through trials and campaigns to promote drought resistant tropical varieties of vegetables as well as appropriate...