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More than just a recipe

Posted by Ricci Symons Monday, October 17, 2016

I have just returned from Mozambique where I was lucky enough to see the latest in IFAD's cooking and climate series, Recipes for Change, being filmed. The newest recipe, Caldeirada De Cabrito Com Mandioca, is a goat and cassava curry. It was was cooked by a local farmer, Helina Paulo, and famous Mozambican chef, Rogerio Matusse. Rogerio has his own catering company and is a regular presenter on Mozambican TV, also hosting a Mozambican tourism show.

Chef Rogerio and Helina cooking together ©IFAD
IFAD works in Mozambique through its PROSUL project, fighting the effects of climate change on smallholder farmers. Farmers like Helina are facing problems with drier soils, higher temperatures and increased droughts. Water shortages and lack of irrigation also contribute to the difficulties facing smallholders. All this is combining to reduce yields, increase wastage and ultimately hurt farmers’ incomes.

The PROSUL project has split itself into three separate streams to help tackle these issues- horticulture, red meat and cassava. Each segment has its own set of actions, which complement each other and ultimately ensure traditional dishes like caldeira de cabrito com mandioca will stay on the menu in Mozambique. The red meat stream is ensuring the health of goats by introducing new raised goat shelters, that stop goats catching diseases when it floods. The cassava and horticulture focused parts, are introducing new planting techniques, seed species and irrigation systems to ensure vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers and cassava are protected.
Water irrigation system at the Wapsala Association ©IFAD

Through the project cassava processing plants, like the one in the picture below, are being built. In these plants farmers are diversifying incomes by creating cassava flour, cassava cakes and biscuits and in some areas selling the surplus cassava they’ve grown to breweries who make beer from it.

Where is the cassava surplus coming from?

Intercropping with cassava and cowpea ©IFAD
The project has been introducing new cassava to households. This new cassava survives on far less water than traditional cassava, which is crucial in low rainfall or drought years. Additionally, this new cassava is more resistant to diseases and pests.

Helina measuring out the distance between crops ©IFAD
Farmers are also being taught the latest adaptation techniques to cope with climate change. One technique is to identify cassava which is infected with pests and diseases and ensure that farmers remove these. Traditionally farmers have not wanted to remove any cassava as this would mean a loss of product. However through farmer field schools, farmers have been taught how early identification and removal of affected crops actually preserves yields. Traditionally a farmer would plant cassava and after a year would harvest. But with the new techniques such as intercropping this has allowed farmers to plant crops with a far shorter growing cycle than cassava on the same plot. This means that they can harvest and sell the other crops while waiting for the cassava to mature, bolstering incomes. Also as the secondary crops such as cowpea grow they provide shade to the cassava and retain soil moisture which both help the cassava to grow large and healthy.
Wapsala Association meeting ©IFAD

Helina is part of the Wapsala Farmers Association. It is a group of smallholder farmers that regularly meet to share knowledge and lessons learned. They meet at the Association’s headquarters, which is surrounded by their own plots. The headquarters also doubles as the cassava processing plant. Helina said that by using these new techniques all the farmers at the Wapsala Association have seen big increases in their yields. They Using the project's market connections they have also found reliable markets to sell their produce.
Creating cassava flour at the Wapsala processing plant ©IFAD

Cassava processing plant in Wapsala ©IFAD 

Grinding cassava in the Wapsala processing plant ©IFAD

Cassava flour biscuits, one of the new revenue streams for the Wapsala Association ©IFAD