Innovation of the Week: Farmers Learning From Farmers
In Maputo, Mozambique I had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop organized by Prolinnova, the Spanish NGO Centro de Iniciativas para la Cooperación/Batá, and the National Farmers Union of Mozambique, UNAC, about different agricultural innovations. But the farmers weren’t there to be trained by the NGOs. Instead, they were in Maputo to share their experiences and learn from each other about different innovations each farmer was practicing in her or his community
Energindo Paulo, from Nicassa province, for example, was there to explain how to make pesticidas natural, natural, non-toxic pesticides to protect crops. His ingredients—including leaves from the Neem tree—were displayed on the floor in front of him as he talked about different methods for controlling pests. When Energindo finished his presentation, the group of 50 farmers asked questions about how to apply the pesticide—directly on the leaves—and how long they should wait after applying the pesticide to eat the produce—two or three days.
Throughout the morning, farmers presented other innovations and practices—including how to prevent diseases that affect their crops and fruit trees and how to raise farmed fish.
According to Santiago Medina of Batá, this workshop was the culmination of a series of workshops that Batá/Prolinnova/UNAC held in 2009 to help farmers identify innovations in their communities and then share them with other farmers. They plan to identify 12-14 innovations and practices identified at the workshops for a book which will be translated into three of Mozambique’s languages, allowing these different innovations to spread throughout the country. And the workshops help farmers value—and invest in—their own local knowledge.