A Farm in Mozambique
After having been travelling together to visit our friends in Mozambique two times, we both felt deeply connected to this country. But at the same time we were shocked by the poverty, that became even worth over the years. We would like to help to improve our friends living conditions in some way, but how shall we do it?
The experiences that Hanaffan made working in a development project in Mozambique, and the lack of success of still ongoing projects made us aware, that we have to do something different.
Also on our visits together, we realized, that people would not listen to our advises. Who are we to tell them in their own country how to live their lives.
So the only way to make these people listen to us is to actually move and live there, together with our Mozambican friends, building up a community, in which we can learn from each other, avoiding to build up an other dictate from superior to inferior. We have to learn from them and then together with them develop ways for a more sustainable way of living.
As we do not count as rich in the norther hemisphere of this world, we have to assure ourselves that we have some income to develop our projects. And as Mozambique’s economy is not doing that fine neither, the most promising opportunity to generate income is by tourism.
Therefore our first step will be to build up a lodge with camping facilities, already integrating water harvesting and small scale farming for our own consumption. An advantage for our project by making it in a touristic way attractive is that by this we might have less problems to find volunteers helping us with the further development of our farm.
Already at this first step we will try to build up a little community with our Mozambican friends, teaching them English, to enable them to work with future customers and at the same time learning Makkua from them. This language exchange is fundamental for the development of our project. Speaking the language helps to gain respect. As this project will for a big part depend on the money of foreigners, locals should be able to deal with foreigners themselves as well. On the other hand we ourselves will not feel at home and not be treated equally until we are able to speak Makkua.
Vegetable Garden and Foodforest
The vegetable garden and food-forest are the heart of our project. Actually we will already start with both vegetable garden and food-forest, when we build up our lodge. We want to show that it is possible in this part of the world to grow a vast variety of vegetables and fruits even though the dry season is so tough here. From the beginning we want to focus on building big water-tanks and harvest the rainwater from all available roofs, so in the end we hope to be able to grow all year long.
If you have ever been to Mozambique during the dry season you will understand why this project is so important to us. Farmers mainly spend their time waiting for the rains to come. The nutritious level of their diet is really low in this time cause all they got to eat are rice, dried beans, dried manioc and that is mainly it. Even in bigger cities like Pemba you would hardly find any variety. Therefore we want to show and promote that it is possible to harvest and store enough water to grow vegetables even in the dry season.
Besides collecting rainwater we also will build swales to drain water from rivers that carry water during the rain season to fill up another big subterranean water-tank. This water will be only used for irrigation of the fields, whereas the rainwater, after being filtered through a carbon filter can also be used for drinking water.
To save as much water as possible we will not only be harvesting as much water as we can but also reuse used water. For example we will have some banana/papaya circles, which will consume all of our grey water coming from sinks and showers. And black water will be treated with anaerobic and aerobic bacteria before it will be used to water our fields. So over all we hope that all water will in the end help us to keep our gardens and fields growing.
On our way to become a self-sufficient and self-sustainable permaculture farm, the next step will be to grow sufficient crops to supply the whole community all year round.
The main crops for us will be rice and corn. As it will be quite work-intense to grow and harvest enough crops to support the community and the tourists coming to visit us, we will have to depend on crops from the market until at least the lodge and the vegetable gardens are established and we have a well working community. Here the knowledge of our local friends will be of big help for us, as they have been growing these crops for all their life.
Fast growing Timber
Wood will be one of the most important materials for our constructions, therefore we will have to plant quite some fast growing trees which will provide us with timber within the first three years. Furthermore we can plant them in a way that we can protect our land from wind.
The wood can also be used for mulch for our flowerbeds and a bonfire also always is a nice thing to have. So we will have to make sure, that we have enough timber growing on our land that eventually we will not have to buy any from outside anymore.
Besides vegetables and crops we also want to have some animals to have a more nutritious diet. Due to the climate conditions and to the customs of this region, we will keep goats and chicken. Goats will provide us with milk and meat and chicken with eggs and meat. Goats and chicken are both quite easy to keep and eat more or less everything. Latest at this stage we should be able to feed them with leftover from our gardens and kitchens. The chicken will be living close to the community houses so they can feed from the kitchen scraps. The goats will be living on the water-tank that stores the water from a close-by river, because we will not be able to grow anything on it anyway.
The chicken will also help us to get rid of parasites in our vegetable garden and the goats will provide us with manure for our vermiculture (wormfarm).
Vermiculture and Nursery
Of course we will also have a normal compost pile close to our food forest and vegetable garden, where we will gain some good and nutritious soil. But to produce some real natural boost for all our plants we will have a vermiculture just next to our goats. This mainly means that we will cultivate worms that then will digest the manure of our goats and provide us with very fertile earth for our nursery. On the one hand we can use the excrements of the worms directly to grow our seedlings in them, but on the other hand we can also water the piles and harvest the liquid which will give us a really good liquid fertilizer.
In the nursery we will grow the seedlings for our foodforest and for the decorative plants of the whole area.
Once we get till here, we should already have a well established self sustainable farm. We can maintain the farm through tourism and selling of vegetables even in the dry season. But if we want to further improve the living conditions in the region, we would need to generate some more capital.
So we have to produce something that can be sold more expensive. It should be a luxury product, that can be sold to hotels, lodges and rich people in the region who would not mind to spend a bit extra for a good local product. We though of rum, first because it is really popular in Venezuela and second as it should not be to difficult to produce. Sure it will take some practice before we can sell it as a luxury product. Probably we will start earlier in small scale already to gain some experience. And it is also important that we make sure to produce a luxury product, as cheap liquor already causes quite some trouble in poor families in Mozambique. But in the end it should help us to make enough profit to start with further projects we have in mind.
Windmills and Coconut trees
In our first phase the fastest and cheapest way for us to get electricity to our place will be to get a generator. But of course this is not in accordance with our principals of building up a self-sustainable permaculture farm. Therefore latest at this point we will have to get some renewable energy sources for our project. First idea surely is to get solar panels on all our roofs. This should actually not be such a problem as solar power in general is getting more and more popular in Africa as well. The other thing is that we want to have electric windmills, because we will be on the coast so there will be enough wind to generate power for us.
To get most out of it we want to plant coconut trees along the coast to direct the wind to the windmills.
At this point we should already be able to provide more nutritional food all year round an even make some profit. The next step to improve the diet in this region will be to build a sustainable shrimp-farm. The idea is that we will be able to provide protein rich shrimp meat for an affordable price, even for the farmers in rural areas in the region. Therefore this project will not be profit orientated.
In general the production of shrimps should not be to cost intense being on a subtropical seaside. But the problem is to keep it sustainable. The wastewater of aquacultures around the world contribute a big part to the worlds water pollution. And this is a total new field for us as well, we still have to find some ecological shrimp-farms, that we will have to visit before we start our project in Mozambique.
Once the farm itself is established, we want to establish an education center as the heart of the whole project. In general the idea is, that volunteers coming here from all over the world can offer courses to the local people and the local people can offer courses to every visitor coming to stay at our project. It is important, that people learn from each other and respect each other without feeling submissive or superior in front of other people.
In the end we also hope, that with this educational center we can help to give the local people a media presence as well by offering a public Internet access and courses to train people in using the world wide web. You may think that there are things more important then internet but in the end rural Africa is more or less excluded from our world wide community and they surely need to be connected, because it can help by providing information that could improve their lives, it can help to raise consciousness in the world about their ways of living and it can help minorities to find support.
Providing internet to rural Africa is a big dream and can only be thought about, once we realized beg part of our projects here, having gained sufficient credibility to attract sponsors helping us to provide satellite internet to our community.
Here you can see our achievements so far to make our dream become real: