Labour not land constrains agricultural production and food self-sufficiency in maize-based smallholder farming systems in Mozambique

W.J. Leonardo, G.W.J. van de Ven, H.M.J. Udo, A. Kanellopoulos, A. Sitoe, K.E. Giller

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Despite abundant land and favourable climatic conditions, Mozambique remains food insecure. We investigated the diversity, constraints and opportunities to increase smallholder productivity and achieve food self-sufficiency in maize-based farming systems in two Posts in central Mozambique. We identified four farm types in each village based on cultivated area and labour. Farm type 1 cultivated relatively large areas, owned cattle and hired in labour. Farm type 2 cultivated moderate areas and both hired in and hired out labour. Farms of type 3a and 3b cultivated the smallest areas. Farm type 3a shared labour while Farm type 3b only hired out labour. For each farm type, we calculated land and labour productivities of maize, sunflower and sesame and assessed maize self-sufficiency. Access to labour during weeding was the main constraint. The hiring out of labour by small farms caused severe reductions in both land and labour productivity. Yield reductions on these farms were due to delayed weeding in own fields. In one Post, Farm type 3b was not maize self-sufficient. Labour quality was probably impaired by excess alcohol consumption among the poorer farmers (both men and women). Our results showed that production can be increased based on current agricultural practices. Farmers did not cultivate all of their land, suggesting that lack of labour constrained intensification by smallholder farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-874
JournalFood Security
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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