From the Field to the Market: Meeting Farmers in Mozambique

lise-hamilton-collage

Lise Hamilton is a 2012-2013 AKFC International Development Management Fellow in Mozambique.

When most of your workdays are spent in front of a computer, it’s easy to forget where the food on your plate comes from. I marvel at the mountains of fresh fruits and vegetables at the market arranged like rainbows, but I overlook the time, dedication, and energy of harvesting crops from the field, especially in an environment that dictates what and how much you will eat.

As a member of the Monitoring and Evaluation unit of Aga Khan Foundation in Mozambique, I spend most of my time in the city of Pemba, assisting the program units in monitoring their projects. But it was time to get away from the paper work and into the fields! I became an honourary member of the Agriculture team and spent four days in the districts of Quissanga and Ibo Island, visiting farmers and home garden owners who work with the Foundation on conservation agriculture techniques and planting methods to assist in the lean season.

I stood in countless fields green with crops and shook the hands of many proud farmers, but a young farmer on the outskirts of Bilibiza town centre was one of the highlights of my visit. With a combination of hand gestures and my newly acquired Portuguese, he showed us the green buds of freshly planted cabbage, offered us a taste of new okra pods fresh off the stem, and laughed at our excitement over seeing a red pepper for the first time in months!

As we began the dusty ride back home, our short meeting left me thinking about how he shared what his daily life looks like.  His challenges are insects, rain, disease, drought and growing enough for his children. Now when I visit the market, I think more about the commitment and hard work that goes into what I am buying and feel more connected with the work between me, the Foundation and the fields.

 

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