Michigan State University will use a $7.9 million award to improve agriculture and food security in Mozambique through increasing the African nation's agricultural productivity, creating economic opportunities and enhancing nutrition.

The four-year grant, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was awarded to MSU and the University of Florida. The initiative employs trilateral cooperation, which involves collaboration between two donor countries helping one beneficiary country, in this case, the U.S. and Brazil assisting Mozambique. Brazil has a rapidly developing agricultural economy with climate and soil conditions similar to those in Mozambique, and both nations share the common language of Portuguese.

"MSU's long-term work in Africa, along with our depth of experience in assessing the impact of major, multiyear projects, brings a level of expertise that helps ensure the project's success," said Steven Hanson, chairperson of MSU's agricultural, food and resource economics department.

The project, which launches this spring, has two components. The first is to improve productivity and marketing of fresh produce in southern Mozambique. This represents an enormous opportunity for low-income Mozambican farmers since about 80 percent of the area's fresh produce comes from South Africa.

Second, the initiative will create a school-feeding pilot program, which will rely on local farmers to supply much of the food to schools. In return, the farmers will receive training and access to technology to support the new market. The long-term goal will be to expand this program nationwide.

MSU will provide research and guidance for the design of investments in Mozambique's horticultural system and analyze the impact of the school-feeding program on participating children, their families and farmers supplying the schools.

Located on the southeast coast of Africa with a population about 23 million, Mozambique remains one of the world's poorest nations with malnutrition being a widespread problem. Major food crops include corn, cassava, beans, peanuts and sorghum. Vegetable production is also expanding rapidly.

Layne Cameron
Michigan State University

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