Mozambique: Changing Irrigation Practices Led by a Changing Climate

Published Jul. 4, 2018

By Helen Davies for Futurepump

About Powering Agriculture

Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development supports the development and deployment of clean energy innovations that increase agriculture productivity and stimulate low carbon economic growth in the agriculture sector of developing countries to help end extreme poverty and extreme hunger.

Historically the farms of Mozambique have been heavily reliant on rain-fed irrigation. This means that regular and predictable rainy and growing seasons keep the country fed… or they did. Climate change is bringing variability to the weather and farmers are essentially having to learn to farm again.

The whole of Southern Africa is predicted to get hotter and drier with climate change. Mozambique being the poorest country in this region is likely to be hit the hardest – and the soonest. Droughts, floods and tropical storms are predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity.

When the frequent rains started to fail, traditional rural farming regions were the first to notice. Districts once renowned for their high food production have become victims of failed harvest and reduced food to eat and sell.

Mozambique’s vulnerability is substantially due to its dependence on agriculture, which contributes about 25% of its GDP and employs 80% of its labour force. And smallholders play a huge role in this, most of the country’s agricultural production is done by small-scale subsistence farmers.

A step away from tradition… a step towards opportunity?

I think we are all agreed, climate change is a massive threat to the lives and livelihoods of countries like Mozambique – but can it be a double-edged sword? A chance to step away from traditional subsistence farming and into more prosperous farming?

Infrequent and unpredictable rains are forcing farmers to plan to use water efficiently and make a success of the times of year where crops can grow. There are several projects working with farmers to adopt conservation agriculture techniques; minimum tillage, increased mulching and changes to traditional crop rotation. This, alongside weather forecast knowledge, is enabling farmers to increase the quality and quantity of crop yields whilst reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

A field being automatically irrigated

Changing irrigation in Mozambique. Photo: Futurepump

In addition to these changing farming techniques, there is a push for farmers to get away from reliance on rain-fed irrigation. And solar irrigation is becoming an increasingly important and recognised element of this sustainable, future-proof farming. This is why we are excited to be working with Water and Solar Irrigation Solutions in Mozambique to bring solar irrigation to small-scale farmers.

Overview of Mozambique's demographics and contact info for the Futurepump distributor there.

This month’s Futurepump Tour takes us to this changing country and we cannot wait to explore smallholder farming and sustainable agriculture potential here.

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