The 1,500-member Agro-Pecuaria Samora Machel Association in Mozambique wanted to expand opportunities for its small farmer members, but it lacked the financial resources and technical and marketing expertise to do so.
District health teams in Mozambique – while ultimately responsible for delivering health services to the country’s population – historically haven’t had control over resources, which has hampered their work. Typically, health care priorities have been planned, managed, and financed at the provincial and central levels.
Two USAID projects led by Abt Associates in Mozambique are solving these and other problems through collaboration, training, and financial assistance.
Expanding the Skills and Markets for Small Farmers
USAID’s AgriFUTURO Agribusiness and Trade Competitiveness Program is training farmers’ groups to become fully fledged Farmer-Owned Service Centers (FOSCs). These organizations do more for their members than just aggregate crops — they provide inputs, financial services, marketing and technical assistance. AgriFUTURO is helping 36,645 smallholders in 18 FOSCs in the Beira and Nacala market corridors grow more and sell more.
One of them – the Agro-Pecuaria Samora Machel Association, which represents 1,505 members, including 292 women — is making the most of USAID AgriFUTURO’s assistance in business plan design, bank and buyer introductions, and training in accounting and management.
In 2014, Samora Machel successfully applied for two loans from the Opportunity Bank of Mozambique: 303,000 Mts (US $10,000) for production activities and 400,000 Mts (US $13,333) for commercialization. It then sold more than 515 tons of soybeans grown by its smallholder members to buyer Abilio Antunes, clearing a profit of nearly US $30,000 after paying back the bank loans.
Samora Machel reinvested this money to buy other products like maize and pigeon peas, as the season for soybean was already closing. Today, the association pays salaries to 19 employees engaged in commercialization.
“Today our members see that the gains are sustainable, because year to year we are improving,” said Association Secretary Lavumo Torres. “We have developed a trust relationship with our partners to the extent that they give us money in advance to buy products.”
Increasingly however, Samora Machel does not have to rely on these advances. Instead, it uses its own funds to purchase from members and negotiates prices and premiums with buyers. In September 2014, for instance, Samora Machel sold pigeon peas to Export Trade Group, at a new, higher price that followed market trends — plus a premium for meeting buyer-required volumes and standards.
Samora Machel’s members are using higher incomes to upgrade their homes, open new businesses, and go to school. A prime example is vice president António Raimundo, who is studying public administration at the Superior Institute of Njerenje, in hopes that he can one day lead the association.
Local Control and Planning of Health Services Delivers Local Results
The Clinical HIV/AIDS Services Strengthening Project in the Sofala, Manica, and Tete provinces (CHASS-SMT) is a five-year, USAID-funded, Abt Associates-led project that began in 2011. CHASS-SMT’s goal is to improve HIV clinical services within a strengthened primary health care system.
In 2013, CHASS-SMT launched an initiative to provide direct funding to districts, while also training the district health teams to plan for, use, and manage the funds. The initiative is providing sub-grants to all 36 districts in the Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces.
Districts’ plans for the funds have focused on priorities such as transport of medical supplies and laboratory samples for processing, training of staff, community health programs, data analysis, and integrated supervision and technical assistance visits to health facilities.
Nine months into the new initiative, services are being delivered more quickly and staff have improved their management skills.
“Collection of laboratory samples and delivery of results to peripheral health centers is prompt,” said Dr. Prescila Felimone, Nhamatanda District Chief Medical Officer. “Patients now get their test results within four days while before it took more than one week to deliver results.”
“We are a cohesive and motivated team because we know that we have resources locally to plan and implement activities,” Dr. Felimone said.