Written March 2009
“How many of you have applied fertilizer to your maize crop?” Ninety farmers were asked that question at a March 2009 Maize Intensification in Mozambique (MIM) project field day in Nhamatanda. Not a single hand was raised! But after viewing MIM demonstration plots, most of the farmers knew that improved maize varieties and fertilization would increase their production dramatically.
Maize is the staple food of most Mozambicans, but yields average less than 1 metric ton/hectare (mt/ha). Production is low mainly because most farmers replant traditional seeds from previous harvests for each new crop, sow with both plants and rows improperly spaced and don’t use fertilizers.
Participants at five MIM field days held in 2008/09 personally planted, fertilized, weeded and kept records at the demonstration sites. The farmers were also introduced to local agro-input dealers, who supply improved seeds and fertilizers, and to grain dealers, who can buy their increased production.
The MIM project was initiated because the Government of Mozambique, through its new Strategic Plan for the Agriculture Sector (PEDSA), committed to promote agricultural growth through increased use of improved seeds, fertilizers and crop protection products. PEDSA’s 2008/09 goal for maize under intensified management was 50,000 ha, with a target of 120,000 ha in 2010/11.