Empowering Mozambique’s farmers: Innovative German programme boosts agricultural productivity by up to 80% in just three years

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Kulima ndi Malonda is a training approach that acknowledges the importance of business and technical agricultural training to smallholder farmers to enable them to better manage their farms and thus increase their yields and incomes.

A private-sector led approach to agricultural extension services is providing smallholder farmers access to training and credit, turning them into profitable agropreneurs

October 31, 2023
  • SDG: #1, #2, #8, #15
  • SECTORS: Development Consulting
  • COUNTRIES: Mozambique
  • DONOR: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • CLIENT: German Development Cooperation (GIZ)

Food insecurity is a major issue in many parts of the developing world. This is especially true in Mozambique, which ranks at 106 out of 116 of all countries on the Global Hunger Index. It is estimated that just over half of its population of 32 million cannot afford a nutritious diet.

Agriculture, which comprises 80% of the country’s livelihood, consists primarily of smallholder farmers operating on a subsistence level, with virtually no profitable large-scale farms in operation. This means many Mozambicans, already living in poverty, are exceedingly vulnerable to food security threats such as conflict, plagues and natural disasters.

Mozambique is rich in arable land, giving it strong potential to develop commercial agriculture for domestic markets and export. However, much of this land is underutilised and underproductive or destructive farming practices have results in low yields. Smallholder farmers also have little-to-no access to credit and financing options that would enable them to increase the scale of their operations.

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Technicians training-of-trainers simulation with farmers

Bringing technical and entrepreneurial education to smallholder farmers

Various programmes have led efforts to improve the agricultural sector in the country by addressing the needs of smallholder farmers. One of these programmes, the German-funded Kulima ndi Malonda (KnM) (Farming as a Business), is a private sector-led approach to agricultural extension that trains farmers to better manage their farms, which are treated as a commercial enterprise.

KnM is an initiative under the Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIAE), a network currently operating in 14 countries in Africa, as well as India and Viet Nam. Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the network is implemented by the development agency German Development Cooperation (GIZ) with services such as KnM subcontracted to NIRAS Germany.

KnM is a new training approach that aims to improve upon two existing programmes—Farmer Business School (FBS) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). FBS aims to improve the mindset of smallholder farmers regarding agriculture as a business, in particular through a focus on strategising production of a main crop and two other food or cash crops. GAP is a training programme for farmers on the best ways to increase yield through hands-on work in demonstration plots and also covers techniques for climate change adaptation.

KnM combines the two approaches into one training programme that is more cost-efficient for companies to organise for smallholder farmers in their network. It recognises these farmers’ need for technical and entrepreneurial training, alongside the goal of making training economically feasible for the partner companies who work with the farmers and provide extension services.

One key advantage of KnM over the two separate training programmes is that the training is peer-based, with appointed lead farmers taking on the role of instructors. This greatly reduces the need for extension services staff to conduct training, relegating their role to overseeing the process. This in turn reduces the overall cost, about two thirds of which consists of the salary and logistical costs of the technicians.

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Up to 40 %

increase in productivity expected after two seasons

Up to 80 %

increase in productivity expected after 3 years


smallholder farmers trained in KnM approach

A three-year training plan with long-term benefits and access to credit

The benefits of the KnM approach are usually realised within three years. An estimated 30-40% increase in productivity can be expected after two seasons, during which farmers are expected to adopt good practices based on the training. Another 30-40% can be expected after the third year once farmers are able to invest in agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, insecticides and high quality seeds.

In order to invest in these inputs, farmers need some form of credit provision. This is where the benefits of the three-year training become clearer—as the smallholder farmers receive training, they also begin to establish better relations with the companies providing it along with the materials, equipment and inputs that form part of extension services. With increased trust and over repeated transactions, the creditworthiness of the farmers also begins to grow, giving them access to more financing options.

A win-win situation for smallholder farmers and the private sector

Once farmers invest more in their agricultural production, they are able to increase yields to levels that make it profitable both for them and the companies providing the training. Economies of scale also begin to come into play as companies work with an increasingly large network of successful farmers. The initial investment may be high, but the returns over time are also expected to be high and become much more sustainable.

So adopting the KnM approach is a mutually beneficial strategy for farmers and private sector companies alike.

Companies that provide training have a vested interest in the success of farmers in their network as it secures both agricultural input and output markets. As companies gain experience with the KnM approach and build their farmer networks, training also becomes more cost-effective, which allows them to reduce transaction costs and further increase the scale at which they can operate.

In turn, farmers gain a stronger hold over their livelihood. Increased yields mean that not only are they able to put food on their table, they are also able to produce enough to make a profit. Being part of a farm extension service company’s network also ensures a more secure market for their produce, and thus a more secure source of income than other farmers may have access to.

All in all, KnM is a programme that is set to develop agriculture in Mozambique in a way that is sustainable and self-sufficient, enriching both the private sector and smallholder farmers.

Read the Kulima ndi Malonda (KnM) report which highlights key learnings, resources and tips for implementation.

It can be downloaded here.

Thanks to the KnM implementation for sharing these results: Team Leader Martinus Ruijten, Tatyana Cleide de Traquino, Saide Mapundo and Lucie Frömmel.

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Hans Jörg Kräuter

Hans Jörg Kräuter

M.Sc. Conservation Biology and Sustainable Develop

Stuttgart, Germany

+49 1794219267