IBSA Fund Annual Report- COMOROS
Enhancing Agricultural Capacity
July 2017– June 2020
Mostly contributing to:
South African Agricultural Research Council; UNDP Comoros
This project aims to enhance and improve the production conditions and commercialization of agricultural products on the island of Mohéli. It consists of three phases: (a) topographic, soil and water surveys; (b) irrigation infrastructure and training; and (c) vegetable production. A pilot farm school will be set up, which will serve as a learning centre for demonstrating commercial farming practices to local farmers. Moreover, this project will promote South-South knowledge-sharing on agricultural extension services between the South African Agricultural Research Council and the Government of the Comoros. The project will partner with 1,140 farmers from eight villages on Mohéli, of whom 50 per cent are women and 10 per cent are youths. Training and demonstrations will also take place on the islands of Ngazidja and Anjouan.
Results (Intended Outcomes/Outputs)
- A production model for vegetable crops is tested and developed for replication throughout the Comoros.
- Markets for agriproducts are developed through marketing and support to remove bottlenecks in agricultural production.
- New agricultural practices are developed and disseminated at other sites on Mohéli and neighbouring islands.
- Organic agricultural techniques were introduced, and farmers were trained, which enables a significant reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The organic farming school has brought together the indigenous knowledge of farmers and the new practices based on accurate scientific data to improve agricultural production on the island of Mohéli.
- 15 tractor operators were trained, two of whom are currently working at the farm school.
- 20 composting units were established in Mibani. The compost was ready to use within 6 months; on average, 450 kg of compost were produced per unit.
- Over 10,000 young Comorians from the diaspora were targeted and exposed to the project activities via social media platforms.
Link of the Project to National Priorities
This project advances priorities defined in the rural development framework, the Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development, and the new agricultural policy of the Comoros. It enhances food production for small-scale farmers through an adaptive research strategy, demonstration of sound agricultural techniques for a variety of crops and the promotion of climate-resilient agricultural practices. The project benefits vulnerable groups, especially small-scale farmers, women and youth, through their participation at the rural economic development centres.
Strengthening South-South Cooperation
This IBSA-funded project is a good example of South-South cooperation. In addition to the financial support through the IBSA Fund, Comoros is benefiting from technical support from the South African Agricultural Research Council, which enhances the sharing of experiences and knowledge between the two partner countries.
This cooperation has also facilitated the linking of Comorian and South African institutions that will eventually be able to develop further collaborations beyond the lifetime of this project. Moreover, equipment, agricultural inputs and agricultural infrastructure were purchased in South Africa, providing new opportunities for local suppliers to explore the international market and South African products.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
The involvement of key stakeholders and partners at an early stage of the project is crucial for successful implementation. Sharing of responsibilities between the implementing entities should be clearly identified while designing the project.
The absence of a reliable maritime route to Mohéli delayed delivery of equipment from the main island. While this is a constant problem in the Comoros, it was further exacerbated in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth.
Sustainability of the project beyond the funding phase is a key component. Therefore, selecting experts permanently based on each island for training in South Africa ensures that skills to design and run irrigation infrastructure are available at any moment on the three islands.
The project is building capacity through the partnership between the South African research institute and the Comorian research institute. This enables resulting content and expertise to remain in the Comoros after project completion.
Water resources are continually being depleted, so proper water-saving strategies will be shared with the farmers during water-management training. Concerning the sustainability of the irrigation infrastructure, the project and the Rural Centre for Economic Development (CRDE) officials have organized awareness campaigns in Mibani and neighbouring communities.