Assessment on the Effectiveness of Technology Transfers Through the USAID-AIMS Project in Mozambique Agricultural Input Markets Strengthening (AIMS) III
Mozambique is a low-income developing country with 80 percent of the population engaged in agriculture and dominated by smallholders. The Mozambican government has noted that development of the agricultural sector is fundamental for improving food security and reducing poverty and has implemented several programs to revitalize and strengthen the agricultural sector. Yet agricultural productivity still remains low with yields averaging less than 1 ton/ha for major cereal crops. Some of the major challenges are use of subsistence farming practices and very low use of quality seed of superior varieties, mineral fertilizers and crop protection products. Farmers’ access to extension services is very limited and has declined over the past decade: 13 percent of farmers had access to extension services in 2003, and only 8.3 percent had access in 2008 (MINAG, 2010). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Agricultural Input Market Strengthening (AIMS) project, in all its phases of operations since 2006, has effectively demonstrated and disseminated technologies relating to seeds (high-yielding varieties and hybrids), crop management techniques (spacing, tillage, intercropping), improved nutrient management techniques (fertilizer blends, herbicide application) and post-harvest technologies to improve the profitability of smallholder agriculture in a sustainable way. AIMS, in the last seven to eight years of its operation in Mozambique, has used different approaches in transferring technologies related to soil fertility management based on the needs of the micro-niches or location and crops. AIMS technology transfer mechanisms can be described as both demand-driven (farmer-conducted demonstrations) as well as supply-driven (agrodealer-conducted demonstrations) to enhance the accessibility and availability of fertilizers and other agro-inputs to smallholders. The survey sampled from 516 farmers in the Beira and Nacala corridors who benefitted indirectly through field days and farmer-to-farmer interactions from 168 farm demonstrations conducted through AIMS between 2009 and 2013 related to soil fertility management. These were conducted exclusively in 12 districts in three provinces (Manica, Sofala and Nampula). Additionally, demonstrations were conducted through agro-dealers during AIMS phase II (104 agro-dealers) and in phase III, partnering with the Sustainable Development Organization for Agriculture and Markets (AGRIMERC) (100 agro-dealers). AIMS project also partnered with Farm Input Promotions (FIPS) recently toward disseminating soil fertility-related technologies on an extensive scale to 36,000 smallholders, using starter or test kits in Manica province. With these partnerships, technologies were transferred through farmers and agrodealers in 23 districts from five provinces – Manica, Sofala, Zambezia, Tete and Nampula. The current assessment was undertaken knowing the effectiveness of technology transfers through the USAID-funded AIMS project in the last five to six years in Beira and Nacala corridors. Such an assessment would provide a few key meaningful insights on streamlining technology-related rollouts – in particular, on soil fertility management issues in the target areas – along with the opportunity to understand small farmers’ access to and demand in the use of agro-inputs. Considering the logistical limitations on time and resources, we decided to conduct the assessment on technology transfers through AIMS and its partners in 14 districts from four provinces, viz., Manica, Sofala, Tete and Nampula. On analyzing the effectiveness of AIMS technology transfers, we were able to compare three groups of farmers, viz., direct beneficiaries, or lead farmers of AIMS who conducted demonstrations in their fields, and indirect beneficiaries who attended the field days conducted by the AIMS direct farmers. We compared these two categories with – a “control” group of farmers who had no previous exposure to farm demonstrations conducted by AIMS or other projects. The assessment also included responses from AIMS partners such as FIPS and AGRIMERC, through whom technologies were disseminated among farmers. Our final assessment sample consists of farmers (143) and agro-dealers (18), covered through AIMS, AGRIMERC and FIPS programs from Beira and Nacala corridors. The final assessment sample is made up of 54 AIMS direct beneficiaries, 25 indirect AIMS farmers and 23 (control group) non-AIMS farmers. In addition, we interviewed 41 farmers who benefited from applying FIPS-technology input kits and agro-dealers who conducted successful demonstrations in partnership with AGRIMERC.