Enhancing Agricultural Capacity
This project contributed to enhancing and improving production conditions and commercialization of agricultural products on the island of Mohéli. This involved (a) topographic, soil and water surveys; (b) irrigation infrastructure and training; and (c) vegetable production. The pilot farm school set up through the project has been serving as a learning centre for demonstrating commercial farming practices to local farmers. The project collaborated with over 1,000 farmers from eight villages on Mohéli, 50 per cent of whom are women and 10 per cent are youths. Soil and water surveys, training and demonstrations also take place on the islands of Ngazidja and Anjouan. This project enabled the sharing of South-South knowledge and skills regarding agricultural extension services between the South African Agricultural Research Council and the Government of the Comoros.
Mohéli island farmers
South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC); National Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment; UNDP Comoros
July 2017– January 2022
Mostly contributing to
Improved agricultural demonstration practice is developed on Mohéli Island for dissemination to neighbouring islands. This has been one of the first projects to popularize the use of locally-made Neem biopesticide in the Comoros.
In-field irrigation system was installed, which contributes to the increase in agricultural productivity year round, with the construction of an approx. 30 m weir over the river and a pump station with a 1.2 km main pipeline; a 480 m³ water storage reservoir with 1.5 km of electrification; and over 11 hectares of drip and sprinkler irrigation and other water supply systems.
• 20 composting units established in Mibani that produce an average of 450 kg of compost per unit.
• Through South-South cooperation with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in capacity-building and technology transfer, the Rural Centre for Economic Development (CRDE) in Mibani is now enabled to participate in the global economy through improved crop production and access to on-site training and research facilities.
• Six Comorian experts received training from ARC in South Africa on post-harvest/agro-processing techniques, pests and disease management, and three Comorian experts were trained by the South African Irrigation Institute on irrigation systems and design.
• Required data collection for the creation of a market strategy for the Agro-Processing Unit has been completed. The strategy is expected to enhance market participation and value-addition propositions on Mohéli Island.
A strong awareness-raising campaign with clear messaging to educate farmers on the usefulness of non-chemical agricultural inputs, the possibility of cultivating crops throughout the year with improved infrastructure and the usefulness of improving soil quality contributed to motivating farmers to adopt improved agricultural practices.
Climate change is significantly impacting the agricultural sector across the small island developing States (SIDS) including the Comoros. Quality weather data and forecasts and their timely dissemination to farmers are crucial for agricultural decision-making. Crop calendars need to be updated based on reliable weather information.
The final evaluation of this project is being finalized to assess progress/accomplishments as well as document lessons learned.
Irrigation training for farmers on Mohéli remains to be undertaken since, owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions, experts from South Africa could not travel to the Comoros earlier to provide technical support. To expand impact, it has been decided that the training will be on Mohéli but expanded in scope to the national level in terms of participants. The partnership between the South African Research Council and the Comorian Research Institute has enabled project expertise to remain in the Comoros after completion, especially in developing the formal structure for the marketing and control of produce and for food-safety control.
The selection of the irrigation systems was a consultative engagement (farmers and CRDE staff) that sought to identify prior knowledge of irrigation systems and willingness to save water. The designed systems are made up of accessible, easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain components.
The training of farmers is ensuring the sustainable operation and maintenance of the equipment and infrastructure. However, the support to the farmers is needed for a longer period and CRDE involvement is crucial.