Treat Farming as a Serious Profession
Telma and Américo Sinsseque live in Namiro community in Northern Mozambique. The couple became SEMEAR partners in 2017. For a long time, the Sinsseque family has been “considered one of the best farmers in the whole district,” and they believe that every farmer has a chance to come out of poverty. The secret is just to “treat farming as a serious profession.”
To start producing certified seed, previously inaccessible by the majority of local farmers, the Sinsseque family purchased basic seed from SEMEAR, which is unadulterated improved seed with excellent characteristics for the local agricultural context.
Recently, Telma allocated half a hectare of land to a farming experiment of the T-16 improved cowpea variety. As a result, she obtained 630 kg of certified seed which corresponds to an increase of 20 percent on the yields. Excited by these results, next season, Telma aims to produce one hectare of certified cowpea seed and one hectare of certified sesame seed because “these crops generate lots of income." Telma’s personal goal is to reach 20 hectares of farmed land within five years, and to do that she “needs to invest significant amount of resources.” Therefore, for Telma, it is important to sell certified seed that is more profitable than local seed. While local grain was being sold at 25 MZN/Kg (0.42 USD), Telma sold the improved cowpea variety at 45 MZN (0.75 USD) and obtained approximately 475 USD: “With improved seed I am able to get enough income to invest in farming activities and tackle household needs (…) everything that we own came from farming activities!”
With the increased farm revenues, the Sinsseque family was able to invest in agricultural inputs like a spraying machine and mechanization services, improved their storage facility and purchased a new motorbike “that facilitates agricultural activities.” The impact of SEMEAR is much broader than this; in fact, the Sinsseque family hires up to 50 laborers from their community to help farming, and “they are happy because the locals can purchase school materials for their children and tackle other daily needs."
Instead of selling the entire production to big commercial entities, Telma and Américo reserved 180 Kg of improved cowpea seed and 25 Kg of improved sesame seed to sell to local farmers who previously struggled to access good-quality seed. This current season, up to 30 smallholder farmers will benefit from those certified seeds (considering that each farmer plants ½ ha, which corresponds to 1.5 Kg of sesame seed or 13 Kg of cowpea seed).
Américo plays another important role within Namiro community by being the president of the AFANE farmers’ association that in August 2017 reached an important goal: AFANE’s seeds were certified for the first time by the National Seed Services–Regional Laboratory of Nampula. SEMEAR facilitated seed inspections during the past cropping season, and the Seed Laboratory issued a certificate for the seed produced and attached a batch number to it. This certification is one more step for community-based seed production aiming at improving farmers' access to sustainable and profitable seed businesses. AFANE is very happy with the acquisition of certificate and batch numbers which shows their commitment to improved farming practices, production of seeds of good quality and compliance with the national seed regulations.
“We didn’t face difficulties with sales of our officially certified seed (…) I have made my decision, I will invest in improved crops like cowpea, groundnut and maize” – Américo Sinsseque
According to Américo, by producing officially certified seeds, AFANE farmers “have more strength to plant because they are sure that those seeds will germinate and get good results (…) farmers don’t feel insecure and have more opportunities to negotiate good prices. When buyers refuse to pay fair prices, we can refuse that offer and get another client that, for sure, will appear!”
“Other farmers are now motivated to use improved seed because they see our yields and how our life is changing.” – Américo Sinsseque
“With SEMEAR we certainly move forward, never back off.”- Telma Sinsseque