Innovative Strategies to Manage Salinity in Horticultural Production Systems, Mozambique

Matias and Jakob taking soil samples

Project Summary

„Piloting of Strategies to Mitigate Impacts of Salinity in Horticultural Systems of Mozambique (SaliHort)“

 

Global Goals

Country

Mozambique

Status

ongoing, since July 2020

Budget

14.000€ (2020)

32.000€ (2021)

26.000€ (2022)

Project goals

  • Identification and Promotion of Locally Adapted Strategies for Improved Management of Soil Salinity in Horticultural Production Systems, through:

    1. Participatory Agronomic Field Trials
    2. Farmer Field Schools for Knowledge Exchange with Producer Associations and Agricultural Extension Personnel
    3. Promotion of portable Soil Sensing Equipment for Improved monitoring of Soil Parameters
    4. Strategic Inter-Institutional Networking on the Topic of Saline Agriculture

„Piloting of Strategies to Mitigate Impacts of Salinity in Horticultural Systems of Mozambique (SaliHort)“

Piloting and Promoting Saline Agriculture in Mozambique

The idea to this project evolved some time back, in 2018 when Matias and Jakob conducted an exploratory field study on the prevailing issue of soil salinity within the peri-urban vegetable producing areas in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Jakob, one of our newest members at Weltweit, is a recent graduate of the master course ‘Agriculture and Resource Management in the Tropics and Subtropics‘ from  the University of Bonn. University contacts led him to Maputo and the ‘University Eduardo Mondlande’ (UEM), Mozambique’s most renowned educational institution, to realise his masters project. Its objective was to explore the causes, extent, and local perception of soil salinity within Maputo’s peri-urban vegetable production areas. The 10.000 plus farmers who cultivate the local coastal lowlands are ensuring the city’s supply with fresh vegetable produce. Unfortunately, they are constrained in their farming activities by several agronomic problems. While high pest pressure, unfavourable precipitation patterns (exacerbated by climate change effects) and constrained access to adequate farming inputs are rather well known and understood challenges, soil salinity is a hitherto hardly studied issue.

Jakob, in his research efforts, not only enjoyed crucial supervision by the ‘Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering’ of the UEM, but received equally strong support from Matias, representing the Department for Agriculture and Extension (DAPPE) of the Municipality of Maputo as its technical coordinator. Matias introduced Jakob to the local farmer organisations and its members, and functioned as an active research partner, helping shape the study. He holds a Master degree in Soil Science from the University of Lavras in Brazil and has worked for DAPPE for 8 years. During this time, he has kept a foot in the field of agricultural sciences; having participated in several research projects as a consultant and working as a part time lecturer.

Jakob’s and Matia’s study, which was concluded in 2019, revealed that soil salinity indeed constitutes a major constraint to Maputo’s agricultural system. The local causes for salinization are complex; including hydrological mismanagement, urbanisation, sea-level rise and climate change aspects. Farmers are struggling with declining yields, complete degradation and loss of formerly agriculturally used land, along with a lack of capacity to sustainably manage the salinity problem. Looking for practical solutions to that dilemma, Matias and Jakob realised, however, that relevant application oriented agricultural research on salinity in the context of vegetable production is practically non-existent. The vast available literature is restricted to fundamental research, mostly conducted in controlled greenhouse environments, and thus is barely geared towards direct applicability in smallholder farming contexts. Nonetheless, it indicates a large pool of potential agronomic solutions, commonly brought together under the concept of Saline Agriculture, including i.e., improved irrigation management, mulching, adapted application patterns of composts, manures and conventional fertilizes, biofertilizer formulations, use of alternative salt tolerant crops, adapted cropping patterns and rotations. This realization constituted the actual starting point of our project. Jakob and Matias were interested in experimenting with management approaches as suggested by the pertinent literature and eventually identifying practical solutions adapted to the local farming realities.

Since then, they forged ahead with turning this idea into reality. Following the elaboration of a detailed project plan, they looked for the right institutional partnerships and eventually brought together a consortium of 4 specialized institutions. DAPPE as the main implementing institution will be locally supported by ABIODES (represented through Alberto Luis), a Mozambican NGO experienced in offering agro-ecological extension services to farmers, as well as the ‘Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering’ of the UEM (represented through Professor Sebastião Famba). Weltweit assumes a coordinating function, supporting the project in terms of fundraising, public relations and the like. The efforts proved successful, and the project has already made considerable progress in its four defined work areas since the project launch in September 2020:

Identification and Promotion of Locally Adapted Strategies for Improved Management of Soil Salinity in Horticultural Production Systems, through

1) Agronomic Field Trials

Scientific evaluation of promising agronomic soil salinity management strategies under field conditions.

2) Farmer Field Schools for Knowledge Exchange

Integration of local farmers and extension workers in the experimental process, and at the same time conveying Saline Agricultural principals along with general good soil and water management practices in a participatory manner.

3) Promoting Sensor-based Salinity and Soil Health Monitoring

Introduction and promotion of portable soil sensor equipment for improved land use decision making and agricultural advisory.

4) Fostering Networks on Saline Agriculture

Establishing strategic networks among national and international institutions for enhanced knowledge exchange on Saline Agriculture, and at the same time anchoring of the concept in local institutional structures.

The objective is to conduct the project’s activities over several successive years and growing seasons; regularly informing on its progress and milestones via our biannual activity reports, published here on the website.

Matias and Jakob taking soil samples
Matias and Jakob taking soil samples
Matias and Jakob taking soil samples
Matias and Jakob taking soil samples
A healthy and productive farming plot in Maputos‘ agricultural green belt
A healthy and productive farming plot in Maputos‘ agricultural green belt
A healthy and productive farming plot in Maputos‘ agricultural green belt
A healthy and productive farming plot in Maputos‘ agricultural green belt
A salt affected and hence unproductive plot
A salt affected and hence unproductive plot
Bad drainage locally often associated with salinity
Bad drainage locally often associated with salinity
A plot that has been abandoned due to salinity related degradation
A plot that has been abandoned due to salinity related degradation
Cultivation of salt tolerant beetroot is one of the few local coping strategies
Cultivation of salt tolerant beetroot is one of the few local coping strategies

Location