'My life improved a lot': A success story
Maria Deniasse, her husband and two children were totally dependent on their harvest. “And when there was a bad harvest, we were very badly off,” she says.
Maria has succeeded in lifting her family from this precarious existence. She now sells surplus beans, cassava and other produce from her family’s four fields and earns a monthly salary teaching adult literacy.
Her life improved after she joined the Smallholder Farmer Association of Sanga five years ago.
As a schoolgirl, Maria had helped sell food from the association. Her grandmother was a member and in 2005, when Maria was 21, she herself joined the association, part of the National Union of Smallholder Farmers, an Oxfam Canada partner in Mozambique.
“When I joined the association, the members chose me as the community agent,” she says. The association provided training and workshops with farmers from other regions. “I learned many things, such as how to make organic fertilizer and pawpaw jam, children’s food, and how to dry products, how to make dams to conserve water and about forming farmers’ associations.”
Since Maria had completed ninth grade, association members also chose her for adult literacy teacher training from the Education Department. The department paid her a monthly teaching stipend of 550 Metical, equivalent to about $21 Canadian.
“After joining the association I was able to access bean seeds and learned how to plant them. Beans bring good money. I also learned how to cultivate, using techniques like planting in rows and organic fertilizer. My production increased. Before, my harvest was one cart load of maize. Now it is three cart loads from the same field.”
Maria and her husband also plant sorghum, pumpkin, sunflowers, groundnuts, cassava, spinach, onions, tomatoes and carrots, some of which she sells in the market in Guro.
“My life improved a lot, since with the money I received every month I could buy clothes and basic things for the house, and when I manage to make some money by selling farm produce, I can invest this in goods to improve our life,” she says. “So far, we have managed to buy two cows and three goats.”