* The programme did lead participating households to use improved seeds.
* Food consumption scores did not improve after the programme. However during the programme participating households moved to more sustainable strategies to cope with food shortages.
* Fertilizer use improved by 20 percent amongst programme participants.
* The effectiveness of the programme on farming outcome declined in the second year. (NPS point out that this may be partly due to a drought which hit participating villages harder than those in the control group, as well as delays in delivering the aid).
The crucial role of agriculture in the sustainable development of sub-Saharan Africa is now widely recognized. Mozambique is an illustrative of why growth in this sector is so important. Despite many years of high GDP growth rates the number of people living in poverty has not declined at all. The key reason for this is that 80 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their living, and productivity in this sector has hardly improved at all during the recent years of high GDP growth. One potential method for remedying this situation are group-based interventions; this brief looks at one such programme and assesses what success it has had in promoting agricultural development.
How does the intervention work?
The agricultural intervention that was assessed is part of the Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) village development programme set up in June 2008. The intervention focuses on several small villages in the Gaza region of Mozambique, and aims to improve the lives and welfare of the villagers, particularly women. Poor, uneducated women are often in a vulnerable situation and may lack sufficient resources and capacity to benefit from new techniques introduced by development programmes. This intervention aims to remedy that situation by improving local community support structures and enhancing community capacity.
In the case of agriculture this attempt at capacity building entails the creation of farmer groups, training, and the setting up of demonstration farms for facilitating technology transfers. The government and the LWF provide the farmers with seeds, fertilizers, training, and small amounts of equipment such as axes, hoes and rakes. What is different about this project compared to other similar ones is that it is a group-based project which takes place on a joint plot and attempts to foster a community approach to improving farming...