CUSTÓDIO MUCAVELE

Mozambique 2020 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

IFAD is a UN-specialized agency that works with the government on agricultural transformation, with particular attention on developing value chains in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

Custódio Mucavele
BIOGRAPHY

Custódio Mucavele is the IFAD Country Program Officer for Mozambique, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to that, Mucavele worked for the National Extension Service, he was assigned many different positions, ranging from a village extension worker to the deputy director of extension. Mucavele has years of experience in the field of agricultural development, agricultural extension, project management, and institutional development. He holds a BAppSc in rural management from the University of Queensland and a master's degree in agricultural economics from the University of Pretoria, RSA.

How would you frame International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) mandate in Mozambique?
IFAD is a UN specialized agency that supports government programs of member states. Our main focus is rural people and our work in Mozambique is guided by the five-year country strategic opportunities program (COSOP 2018-2022), which covers three strategic areas: the productive use of water and land; the production of different value chains within agriculture and fisheries; and access to rural finance. Ongoing projects include PROMER, a USD66-million market linkage project covering the central and northern provinces; PROSUL, a USD44.9-million value chain project covering the three southern provinces; and REFP, a USD72-million project providing rural finance, such as community-based financial institutions, a line of credit, and matching grants. In February 2020, IFAD and the government of Mozambique approved two new projects: PROCAVA, a USD150-million, 10-year program for developing five value chains in 75 districts country-wide, and PRODAPE, a USD50-million, six-year project to support aquaculture development in 23 districts in central and northern Mozambique.

Are there specific focuses that IFAD has incorporated in its mandate in Mozambique?
We work with the government to push for agricultural transformation, with particular attention to developing value chains in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. IFAD's investment is contextualized and supported by empirical field evidence. For instance, Mozambique organized a Blue Economy conference in 2019, which was an important opportunity for the government to demonstrate its increased attention for sustainable use of sea resource. We aim to increase the benefits to the small-scale fishermen, as the scale of their activity is in most cases at subsistence level. For this reason, we brought to the government's attention the importance of a separate three-mile strip in the coastline exclusively reserved for artisanal fishers. A second area of focus is climate change. To this end, PROSUL was the first project in the whole family of IFAD supported projects that was designed with specific intervention to support the adaptation and resilience to climate change. A third area of focus is nutrition development, which is a critical area for a country where the malnourishment rate for children under the age of five is 43%. We always make sure to focus on gender balance, in particular the role of women in agriculture, who represent more than 70% of the workforce in the sector, and youth.

What role is IFAD playing in coordinating the response to COVID-19?
As an international organization supporting the agriculture sector, and considering that COVID is a cross-cutting pandemic requiring a dedicated response from the agricultural sector, IFAD is engaged in the preparation of instruments for supporting the agriculture sector to respond to the current situation. This will require IFAD and all partners of the agricultural sector to provide coordinated support through the provision of inputs for agriculture, especially quality seeds, to ensure the continuity of production and availability of food. These are seeds for cereals, legumes, roots, and tubers such as cassava and sweat potatoes, which the provinces rely on.

Is the crisis changing the scope of your work?
Indeed, the challenging environment of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis required IFAD to adjust. IFAD is primarily a development organization that intervenes on the front of sustainable development by putting together mechanisms for availability of inputs, extension, and advisory services for farmers, including access to markets and availability of innovative rural financial services and products. However, after the two cyclones affected Mozambique in 2019, IFAD found itself duty bound to channel some of the resources from the ongoing projects to supporting the rehabilitation of infrastructure that was destroyed. The same applies for the pandemic. IFAD had to repurpose ongoing investments and create a new instrument in the shape of the Rural Farmers Stimulus Facility, aiming to enhance the country's capacity to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.