An evaluation of the factors that influence maize production and the adoption of modern storage technologies in two districts in Mozambique

Thobejane, Prisca
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Over the past few decades, post-harvest management has gained recognition as a possible means towards achieving efficient food security. In Mozambique nearly 400 000 metric tonnes of maize are lost due to poor post-harvest storage conditions which threatens food security. A pilot study conducted by Helvetas, a Non-Government Organization and private companies introduced the hermetic bag and the metal silo in an attempt to reduce the post-harvest food losses experienced by the smallholder farmers in the Mecuburi and the Chiure Districts, in Mozambique. The adoption levels of the technologies have been extremely low and this study explored why this may have been the case. The impact of abiotic factors (soil fertility, rainfall, minimum and maximum temperatures) on maize production in the Districts was evaluated. In addition, the changes in the retail price of maize from 2002 - 2016 was examined to assess the consumption and purchase patterns of farmers. Semi-structured interviews with 22 smallholder farmers from the Mecuburi District and 62 from the Chiure District were conducted to determine the socio-economic factors that have influenced the adoption of the two modern technologies. The results revealed that the Districts have sandy, nutrient poor soils with extremely low phosphorus content, high temperatures and highly variable rainfall which results in very low yields, which in many cases did not meet the food needs of many households. One of the implications was that farmers felt that the existing traditional ways of storing any surplus yield and that modern technologies, which were expensive, were unnecessary. Retail maize prices have fluctuated over the years and are driven by yields in various seasons, along with the variability of the rainfall and the supply and demand for maize. The main driver of adoption of the metal silo in the Mecuburi District is the purchase of the technology on credit which reduces the likelihood of more farmers adopting the technology. In the Chiure District, farmers spend most of their money to purchase additional food, which has reduced the likelihood of more farmers adopting the metal silo. It is recommended that subsidies or credit systems be provided to allow for more farmers to adopt the technology. In addition, farmers could be provided with fertilizer subsidies to improve the soil fertility or perhaps introduce livestock for the manure which may potentially result in an increase in the maize production level.
An MSc Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in fulfillment of the requirement for a Masters in Science