Sustainable Soy Production: TechnoServe Inc. and Solidaridad team up in Mozambique

Southern Africa has a growing demand for soybean. This demand has led to a large number of farmers switching to soybean production. In an attempt to meet the expected domestic demand for soy in a sustainable manner, Solidaridad and TechnoServe are partnering in an initiative to promote and support the sustainable production of soy at farm level.

Solidaridad and Technoserve aim to create an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable supply chain for smallholder soy farmers in Mozambique. This initiative is part of Solidaridad’s Farmer Support Programme (FSP) in which increased production of better quality soy is achieved by introducing sustainable farming methods, enabling access to improved seeds and by promoting the principles of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS).

Currently, Mozambican soy farmers produce 30,000 tons of soy annually, despite demand being estimated at double that amount. By 2015 demand is expected to increase to 90,000 tons, and by 2020 could be as high as 130,000 tons per annum. This presents an opportunity to secure markets for increased production by smallholder farmers in line with the RTRS standard.

The project is taking place in two regions in Mozambique: Angonia and Alta Zambezia. Prior to this project the 2010/11 and 2011/12 crop seasons had seen significant production improvements as a result of interventions from Technoserve, but smallholder farmers are still producing at less than the region’s agro-climatic potential. The aim of the project is to increase the number of smallholder farmer from 16 800 to 25 000, and production from 19 000 tons to 38 500 tons and to have 60% of Mozambican farmers (15,000 farmers) complying with RTRS standards by 2015. However, certification will only be pursued should the market demand it.

Environmental and social responsibility within production

Given the anticipated expansion of the soy sector and the intensification of production, taking sustainability issues seriously is critical to ensure that social benefits are optimised and negative environmental and social sustainability impacts are minimised. The important environmental issues to tackle under soy production include the improvement of soil quality, the prevention of soil erosion, integrated pest management, fair labour practices and rational use of water. Important social considerations are gender rights principles. The RTRS standard includes all of these issues.

Intervention and capacity building

Promotion of soy production by Technoserve with the support of Government structures in Mozambique has improved support to the sector, however additional interventions and capacity building is required. Lead farmers are being trained on smart and sustainable soy farming techniques according to RTRS standards, and will subsequently diffuse this knowledge by mentoring 150-200 additional farmers. The lead farmers will be trained in Minimal-Tillage and Rotating System Training, Seed Improvement Training, and the overall implementation of good agricultural practices. The supply of high-quality non-GMO soybean seeds to farmers, along with improved storage conditions of soy, will result in better quality yields and reduced post-harvest losses. Transport agreements will be signed with various actors making it easier for sustainably produced soy to reach its intended markets. In addition stakeholders within the soy market will be sensitized to the positive implications of RTRS soy standards, encouraging a market for RTRS certified soy. Solidaridad and Technoserve will jointly introduce the RTRS standard to the government of Mozambique to encourage its broader uptake within the soy sector.