Front Cover
 The "Green Zones" initiative and...
 The general union of cooperati...
 How the individual cooperatives...
 Agricultural production
 Training and education of cooperative...
 People's development is more than...
 A difficult act to follow, and...
 Organization and management
 Credit opens doors
 Lessons learned
 Back Cover

Group Title: Seeds; no. 17
Title: Supporting women farmers in the Green Zones of Mozambique
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00088786/00001
 Material Information
Title: Supporting women farmers in the Green Zones of Mozambique
Series Title: Seeds
Physical Description: 20 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ayisi, Ruth Ansah
Publisher: Seeds
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1995
Subject: Women farmers -- Case studies -- Mozambique   ( lcsh )
Women in agriculture -- Case studies -- Mozambique   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Mozambique
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 20).
Statement of Responsibility: by Ruth Ansah Ayisi.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00088786
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 33096236
issn - 073-6833 ;

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    The "Green Zones" initiative and the Maputo Green Zones project
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The general union of cooperatives
        Page 7
    How the individual cooperatives function and the role of the GUC
        Page 8
    Agricultural production
        Page 9
        Pages 10-11
    Training and education of cooperative members, more than just farming, funding and support
        Page 12
    People's development is more than economic development alone, and looking to the future
        Page 13
    A difficult act to follow, and the Beira Green Zones project
        Page 14
    Organization and management
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Credit opens doors
        Page 18
    Lessons learned
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

SEEDS is a pamphlet series developed to meet requests from all over the
world for information about innovative and practical program ideas developed to
address the economic roles and needs of low income women. The pamphlets are
designed as a means to share information and spark new initiatives based on the
positive experiences of projects that are working to help women generate liveli-
hoods and to improve their economic status. The projects described in this and
other issues of SEEDS have been selected because they have served not only to
strengthen women's productive roles, but also to integrate women into various
sectors of development, both social and economic. All projects documented in the
SEEDS series involve women in decision-making, organize women locally, and
address broader policy issues which affect the economic roles of women.
These reports are not meant to be prescriptive, since every development
effort will face somewhat different problems and possibilities. Rather, they have
been written to describe the history of an idea and its implementation in the hope
that the lessons learned can be useful in a variety of settings. They are also being
written to bring to the attention of those in decision-making positions the vital roles
that women play not only in the economies of their individual households but also
in the economic life of every nation.

The Population Council provides project direction and administra-
tive support for SEEDS Editorial policy is set by the SEEDS
Steering Committee: Judith Bruce (Population Council), Betsy
Campbell (The Ford Foundation), Marilyn Carr (UNIFEM), Marty
Chen (Harvard Institute for International Development), Margaret
Clark (The Aspen Institute), Misrak Elias (UNICEF), Anne Kubisch
(The Aspen Institute), Ann Leonard (The Population Council),
Cecilia Lotse (UNICEF), Katharine McKee (Community
Development Financial Institutions Fund), Kirsten Moore
(Population Council), Anne Walker (International Women's Tribune
Center), and Mildred Warner (Cornell University).
This edition of SEEDS has been developed in cooperation with
the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Development
Programme for Women in New York and the UNICEF country
office in Maputo, Mozambique. Publication of SEEDS is made
possible by support of the Ford Foundation, UNICEF, and the
Population Council.
No. 17 1995
ISSN 073-6833 Statements made and views expressed in this publication are
Copyright 1995 SEEDS solely the responsibility of the authors and not of any organization
providing support for SEEDS.

Supporting Women Farmers

in the Green Zones

of Mozambique

by Ruth Ansah Ayisi

Women throughout much of the developing world are farmers, not only pro-
ducing the food crops needed to feed their families, but seeking to generate the
cash income necessary to gain access to education, health care, and a better
way of life in today world. However, in many countries-particularly in sub-
Saharan Africa-women farmers must deal not only with the inherent difficulties
of gender inequities, poverty, and the vagaries of nature, but with the con-
sequences of war and civil strife as well. This case study focuses on efforts that
are helping women farmers to survive and prosper in the Green Zones
of Mozambique-and to provide desperately needed foodstuffs for the local
market-despite years of brutal warfare in what is currently one of the poorest
countries in the world.

This case study is the result of a collaboration with UNICEF/Mozambique and UNICEF's Development
Programme for Women in New York.


For the first time in over a decade and
a half, Mozambicans are enjoying peace-a
peace that was a long time coming.
For over 500 years, Mozambique (a
nation of 16 million people situated on Africa's
southeastern coast and bordering on Malawi,
Zimbabwe, and South Africa) suffered under
Portuguese colonial rule. This was a time of
virtual slave labor, when Mozambicans were
forced to neglect their own food crops to grow
cash crops for export, primarily to neighbor-
ing Rhodesia and South Africa. Then, in 1975,
after ten years of armed struggle, Mozam-
bique gained its independence. The
Portuguese finally departed, but they left bit-
terly, taking with them all their belongings and
destroying much of what they could not carry
off. The economy was in shambles and social
services were all but nonexistent. At indepen-
dence, less than 10 percent of the population
had received any formal education and over
90 percent could not read or write. Adequate
health care could only be found in the capital,
Maputo, and potable water was only available
in or around urban areas where only about 30
percent of the population reside.
Worse still, the euphoria that accompa-
nied independence proved to be short-lived.
Fighting soon recommended between the
new Government of the Mozambique
Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and rebels of the
Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO).
Sixteen years of civil strife were to follow,
resulting in the killing of hundreds of thou-
sands of people, including many women and
children. The country's already precarious
economy was further crippled, reducing
Mozambique to one of the world's poorest
Estimates of the conflict's costs, in the
1980s alone, go as high as U.S. $15 billion.
The country's infrastructure was devastated,
and agriculture-the country's backbone-
declined as people fled to the safety of the
urban areas and coastal districts. Some 1.7
million Mozambicans crossed into neighbor-
ing countries while another four million were
displaced. In the countryside, women and
children were the main victims of atrocities,
and hundreds of thousands of people were
cut off from the basic means of survival. It is
estimated that almost one million people were

killed during the war and that over 500,000
children were torn from their families.
Then, as if the war were not enough, in
the early 1990s, Mozambique experienced its
worst drought in seventy years. As there were
huge food shortages, even more people left
the fertile lands that still remained under culti-
vation. Fortunately, the drought did not result
in mass famine, because drought is no
stranger to Mozambique and the people have
developed survival strategies. Many man-
aged to flee to areas where food aid was
being distributed, or they survived by eating
unusual foods, like wild roots.
The coming of the rains coincided, in
1992, with the signing of a general cease fire
between the government and RENAMO.
Slowly, those who had fled to neighboring
countries or had been internally displaced
began to return to their homes. Now the gov-
ernment, RENAMO, aid agencies, and com-
munities themselves have begun the massive
task of repairing roads and rebuilding the
bridges, wells, schools, and health centers
that were destroyed. And agriculture is slowly
being revitalized as previously unsecured
areas and roads are opening up.
Conflict, drought and, in a different way,
peace, have all combined to put Mozambique
in a chronic emergency situation. Between
mid-1992 and the end of 1994, a United
Nations force was in place to keep the peace.
The task was relatively easy given the desire
on the part of Mozambicans themselves for
The peace process culminated in the
holding of the country's first multi-party elec-
tion October 27-29, 1994. President Joaquim
Chissano and his ruling FRELIMO party were
announced the victors on November 19th,
receiving 43.3 percent of the 4.95 million
votes cast as opposed to 33.7 percent for his
rival, Alfonso Dhlakama and the RENAMO
party. The elections were hailed as free and
fair with almost 90 percent of registered voters
turning out at the polls-a significant feat as
many voters had to travel for as long as a
whole day just to reach the polling station.
The newly elected Government faces a
truly difficult task. Mozambique's debt burden
is one of the world's highest and represents
four times the country's Gross Domestic
Product. Over 80 percent of the population
live in absolute poverty, and UNICEF esti-



mates that death from disease or lack of food
continues to threaten as many as three million,
or more than one-third of all children in
While times are hard for everyone, one
of the most vulnerable groups in Mozambique
is the urban poor who possess little or no land
to grow crops. Many urban dwellers are peo-
ple who once lived off the land, but fled to the
safety of the cities during the war. For them,
food is no longer something to grow, but
something to buy. Prices have risen dramati-
cally since the introduction of the Economic
Structural Recovery Program sponsored by
the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank in 1987, and unemployment is
high. Even for those few who are formally
employed, life is tough. Wages have lagged
well behind price hikes, and the minimum
monthly wage in 1994 is only about U.S. $13.
This makes wages in Mozambique among the
lowest in Africa.

The "Green Zones" Initiative
"Green Zones" is the name frequently
given to suburban farm land that surrounds
large cities, such as Mozambique's capital,
Maputo. Here most of the produce, chicken,
eggs, and other foodstuffs found in the urban
marketplace are grown. Before independence
the Green Zones were primarily underutilized
areas not under cultivation. When the
Portuguese left, Mozambican farmers moved
onto the land and, over the years, many were
able to legalize possession through local
authorities. However, these farmers knew little
about agricultural production techniques.
At about the same time, in an attempt to
stimulate agricultural production, the govern-
ment forced many farmers to work on large,
state-run farms. But, these unmanageable
"cooperatives" were not highly productive,
primarily because the people themselves
received few of the benefits and thus were not
committed to the movement. They continued
to live off their own personal plots, which they
farmed after putting in their required hours on
the "people's" farms. Not surprisingly, many
Mozambicans today are wary of any attempts
at collectivization until they can clearly see the
benefit of participation.

The Maputo Green Zones Project
After the failure of the "people's" farms,

the government sought other means to
increase productivity. In 1980, a Gabinete des
Zonas Verdes (Green Zones Cabinet) was
established to provide administrative and
technical support to both cooperative and
private farms within the Green Zones.
Administratively attached to the Maputo City
Council, the Cabinet was also a part of the
Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and worked
through the seven MOA agricultural centers
located throughout the Maputo area. These
centers were designed to offer technical
assistance through the services of extension
workers and provision of transport, seeds,
fertilizer, and the like.
As in most African countries, women in
Mozambique traditionally are responsible for
most agricultural work and, therefore, make
up the majority of farmers working in the
Green Zones. Many of these women are wid-
owed or divorced; others are married to men
who have migrated to work in South African
mines, making them the essential source of
support for their households and families. It
was in 1984 that twenty-one Green Zones
agricultural cooperatives, operated by about
500 women, were selected to participate in
a special project funded by UNICEF. The
project would attempt not only to improve
agricultural production, but to upgrade the
overall standard of well-being of the women
and their children.
Operating under the auspices of the
Green Zones Cabinet, the project was
designed to:
Increase and improve means of production;
Provide social infrastructure such as
creches, training centers, and sanitary
Offer more training courses in such areas
as agriculture, and increase knowledge
about basic health, nutrition, and child
care; and
Provide higher compensation for workers
in cash or kind.
Immediate goals were to:
Improve water supply and irrigation sys-
Establish eleven creches;
Provide social infrastructure (stores,
latrines, offices, etc.);
Strengthen training structures and pro-

vide didactic materials;
Increase profitability of co-ops to allow
payment of at least minimum wage; and
Improve the nutritional value of agricul-
tural produce.
The Green Zones area is rich in ground-
water, but at the time of the project only a few
of the farms were irrigated. Therefore, the
sinking of boreholes and provision of pumps
were considered of primary importance in
boosting production. As few of the coopera-
tives had any buildings-even sheds-each
group was given assistance to construct a
storehouse and protected site for cooking.
Because most of the women had no
source of child care and few could afford to
send their children to school, construction of
creches and literacy centers accessible to
each cooperative was also a priority. Mini-
creches were established within each individ-
ual co-op and are run by the co-op members
themselves. They are built right in the fields to
facilitate breast feeding. And because most of
the women themselves were illiterate, classes
in basic Portuguese (the national language)
were to be provided to all co-op members. To

carry out these social programs, nineteen
women from the Green Zones were trained by
the Ministry of Health as creche monitors
while another group were trained as nutrition
monitors. The Ministry of Education trained lit-
eracy monitors to conduct two-hour classes
daily and supplied the literacy centers with
basic equipment.
As malnutrition was still a problem at the
time, arrangements were made for the World
Food Programme to provide a minimal food
basket to each co-op member and her family
until the level of production on the farms could
be improved. Local dairies supplied milk to
the creches and the government food distrib-
utor in Maputo made sure the childcare cen-
ters received basic foods such as cereal, oil,
sugar, etc.
Through the participation of the People's
Development Bank, the cooperatives were
able to take out bank loans to cover the cost
of constructing buildings and developing
other infrastructure. Co-op members also pro-
vided the labor needed for construction as
well as farming. Thus, the cooperative mem-
bers were, from the outset, partners in this
development effort.

The co-ops in Matola Gare, about 20
kilometers from the city are approachable up
a sandy track, far from the main road. Plots of
neatly cultivated maize lie on either side.
It was the hottest day of the summer dur-
ing my visit to the Maputo Green Zones. Some
women sat on a cane mat under the patchy
shade of a fruit tree. They had started in the
fields very early in the morning to avoid the full
force of the sun. It was now calm with a hot
breeze blowing gently. Maputo's city chaos of
around two million people seemed far away.
The only constant noise was the cluck-
ing of chickens, but they too were quieter than
normal. Temperatures had soared to over 40
degrees and many of the chickens were
dying. Despite the discomfort, the women
(mostly dressed in bright-colored cotton
wraps, barefoot, and with scarves on their
heads) chatted comfortably.
Christine Malecko, a 45-year-old
divorcee, is in charge of the finances of one of
six cooperatives that are part of a union
named Josina Machel, after the first wife of
the late president Samora Machel. Since join-
ing the co-op, her life has improved dramati-
cally. Ms. Malecko now earns 100,000 mt (US
$15) from the cooperative, which is about 25
percent above the minimum wage.
Before joining the cooperative in 1987,
she had lived with her husband. "Then, sud-
denly, my husband left me after ten years of
marriage because I could have no children,"
said Ms. Malecko, tenderly cradling the baby
of another co-op member in her arms. She
was talking in the local language, Ronga.
"Before he left, my husband built me a house
and gave me a plot of land so I could survive
on subsistence farming. But it was very diffi-
cult. I worked on my machamba (plot of land),
but I was growing just enough food to eat. I
had to work on the machambas of others to
earn money so that I could buy other basics,
like soap and clothes."
The hours of labor took their toll. Ms.
Malecko would start working on other peo-
ple's plots at 4:00 am, before working on her
own plot. Then she had to trek for forty-five
minutes to fetch water, and another forty-five
minutes to go home with the heavy bucket on
her head. "My health wasn't too good,
because when your spirits are low it breaks
down your health."

In the early 1980s, on hearing that a
cooperative had formed in her area, Ms.
Malecko jumped at the opportunity. "I thought
it was better to join with others than to work by
myself." Besides the chickens, she works with
other women growing cabbage, carrots,
tomatoes, onions, maize, and beans. "We all
work well together," she reports. But she still
keeps her own machamba, where she grows
cashews to sell.
The co-op also gave Ms. Malecko the
opportunity to attend literacy classes. She
had only completed the first grade at primary
school because she had to leave, following
the death of her parents, without learning how
to read or write. The classes, however are dif-
ficult for most of the women, who not only
have to master literacy skills but also have to
learn what is for most a new language,
Portuguese. Although Ms. Malecko is still
unable to read the daily newspaper, she can
now sign her name on checks and her new
skill has assisted her with accounting tasks at
the co-op.

Yet, despite joining the co-op, for a long
time Ms. Malecko still feared for her life.
"During the war we suffered a lot," she said. "I
was kidnapped with my brother and nephew
three times, but we managed to flee each
time. We were unable to sleep inside our
homes at night. After 3:00 pm I would have to
leave my home, and at night I would sleep in
the bush.
"My life these days is much better I
sleep at home, I can buy soap, new
capalanas (cloth wrappers), and I can save
some money aside for the hospital in case I'm
sick, although my health is better now. My
only plan is to save money to construct a bet-
ter house. My house now is only made of cane
and is too small."

The new Green Zone initiative was
developed in response to the government's
decision to provide greater support to small
production units in order to meet the critical
need for food in the cities. From the start,
however, it was stressed that the project
would take a "self-help approach" that would
"encourage cooperative workers to regard the
results as a fruit of their own work rather than
a free gift".'
Much of the inspiration for the Green
Zones approach comes from an Italian priest,
Father Prosperino Gallipoli, who has lived and
worked among the peasant farmers of
Mozambique since the 1950s. The priest is a
modest man, reluctant to talk about his impor-
tant part in the success of the Green Zones
project. But his vision was to create an orga-
nization that would empower people to take
charge of their own lives-"people's develop-
ment," he calls it. Therefore, one of his main
roles has been to secure the kind of support,
from the government and donors alike, that
makes such autonomy possible. To do this, he
has often had to challenge both the authori-
ties and the "educated elite." However, his
faith in the ability of peasant farmers to oper-
ate new technologies and ultimately to
improve their social and economic status has
remained firm. His valuable contribution is
now widely recognized; UNICEF, for example,
pays him a modest salary and he currently
serves as a consultant manager to the
General Union of Cooperatives (GUC).

The General Union of
The GUC was established in 1983 to
better serve the needs of the cooperatives
operating within the Green Zones. Although it
was not intended to be a "women's" organiza-
tion, it has become a strong one, with women
regularly holding most, if not all, of the leader-
ship positions: the current president, Selina
Cossa, is a woman. At times, its indepen-
dence has brought it into conflict with the
Ministry of Agriculture, the ruling party, and
even the national women's organization, but it
has not only persevered, it has thrived.2
All individual co-op members automati-
cally belong to the GUC, and membership is
free. By 1985, the GUC had united more than
12,000 members and was unable to accept
more. However, many of the women had
joined solely because membership allowed
them access to food and other commodities
that were in scarce supply during the height
of the war years. When economic structural
adjustment policies were introduced in 1987,
and price controls removed, food became
more readily available in the marketplace.
Membership in the GUC then dropped
by almost 50 percent, as those not really
committed to the cooperative movement
dropped out.
Today there are about 5,400 GUC mem-
bers (approximately 95 percent of the
women), grouped in approximately 182 co-
ops located on 700 hectares of land on the
outskirts of Maputo. All of the cooperatives,
except one, are headed by women. The
cooperatives vary in size, but average about
fifty members each. Each individual co-op
determines when and if new members are
admitted, but given that the average size of
available plots shared by members is around
3.3 hectares, in most cases too large a mem-
bership would be uneconomical.
In 1990, the GUC was registered as a
company and the individual co-ops became
its shareholders, constituting its General
Assembly, which meets annually. Elections
take place every three years by secret ballot.
The GUC has a central office responsible for
all juridical and administrative matters,
accounts, and technical assistance for agri-
cultural production. It is staffed by Green
Zone cooperative members, who receive their
salary from their own co-op. The staff is super-

vised by a president, vice-president, and
director, all of whom are elected by co-op
The GUC is run as a private enterprise.
It has no institutional relationship to the
Ministry of Agriculture, although it respects
MOA policies, nor does it have any official
relationship with the government or any NGO.

How the Individual Cooperatives
Most cooperatives have a democrati-
cally elected president, with different mem-
bers responsible for agricultural production,
marketing, social affairs, and accounting. All
those in charge are elected by the coopera-
tive members for a three-year period. Literacy
and numeracy skills are not required to serve
as an officer in an individual cooperative (to
serve within the GUC it is necessary to be
able to read and write). Within each coopera-
tive, members hold regular meetings where
they discuss the current level of wages, cred-
it repayment, and the structure of the co-op.
"The members are enthusiastic about the
meetings," said one of the women. "We have
regular attendance, and people are no longer
shy to participate. We send our proposals to
the General Union, which weighs the advan-
tages and disadvantages of what we sug-
gest." Typically the proposals the co-ops
submit are for building new installations (such
as setting up a mill to grind maize) or starting
new projects (such as raising pigs).
Cooperative members pay themselves a
regular salary, which is just above the coun-
try's minimum wage. This basic amount can
increase if profits permit: usually about 50
percent of earnings go to pay back loans from
the GUC; the other 50 percent is distributed
among the members. These loans are primar-
ily to purchase equipment that the GUC has
been able to buy at wholesale cost. To secure
loans from the GUC, a co-op must sign an
agreement to pay back the loan within a cer-
tain period of time. The rate of interest
charged is lower than the commercial rate.
The main advantage of the system, however,
is that the women get access to credit, which
would be impossible for them to obtain from a
commercial bank.
Most co-op members live with their fam-
ilies near the plots of land they farm for the
cooperative. Some have always lived there;

others have returned following the peace set-
tlement. Some hold title to their land, but this
is not a requirement for co-op membership.
The GUC has been able to help many of the
women who want private plots to secure the
title to their land from the local authorities,
although the process can be long and
tedious. Today, almost all of the arable land
around Maputo has been claimed, which
restricts the further growth of the movement in
the area.

The Role of the GUC
The members of the individual co-ops
relate to the GUC either directly or through
local unions. Local unions represent ten to
fifteen cooperatives in the same area and
form the middle level of a pyramid structure
that includes the individual co-ops at the bot-
tom and the GUC at the top. The aim, how-
ever, is for the co-ops themselves to become
more self-sufficient and to rely less and less
on direction from the GUC.
Probably the most critical role of the
GUC is marketing the produce grown by the
cooperatives. As the co-ops are located

about 20 kilometers outside the city and most
members have no access to private transport,
the GUC buys livestock and produce from the
cooperatives for sale in the city. The GUC
maintains its own cashier so that the women
are reimbursed immediately for their goods,
thus eliminating the need for them to deal with
intermediaries, such as banks. "Farm women
are often timid about going into big banks,"
said one co-op member. "They would proba-
bly get robbed. They're not used to dealing
with big quantities of money."
Because most co-ops are too poor to
afford even the most basic equipment, the
GUC also supplies basic farm implements
and a range of other goods and services. For
example, it has set up two storehouses which
supply seeds, fertilizers, hoes, watering cans,
hose pipes, construction material, diesel
pumps, and the like. Because most co-ops
cannot afford the market price of basic equip-
ment, the GUC buys farm implements in bulk,
at a discount, and then sells the items at cost
to the co-ops. The members can pay for the
items they take on credit. The GUC also con-
ducts workshops to teach members how to
assemble and repair their equipment.
In 1991, during a meeting of the General
Assembly, 145 out of the existing 182 coopera-
tives opted for distribution of some property
and means of production among individual
co-op members, while still maintaining the
cooperative structure. In 145 co-ops, then,
land has now been distributed among the
members. Low-cost farming instruments
(such as hoes, watering cans, etc.) also have
become individual property, while more costly
infrastructure items-such as poultry units,
vehicles, and water pumps-continue to be
collective property.
Each year the GUC organizes teams of
its own members to assist in evaluating activ-
ities and drawing up plans for the coming
year. Regular meetings between the coopera-
tive members in each area are also orga-
nized, offering the women an opportunity to
exchange experiences and discuss problems
with members of other groups. The GUC also
assists members in solving conflicts, particu-
larly over land "ownership," (usually between
private farmers and some private companies)
as well as helping them solve internal conflicts
such as theft or when someone within the
group usurps decision making authority with-
out the consent of the rest of the members.

Agricultural Production
Today, chicken breeding is the coopera-
tives' greatest source of income; they current-
ly supply 60 percent of the chicken for the
Maputo market. Originally the co-ops had
focused on raising pigs, but they proved too
difficult to care for because there was not suf-
ficient expertise available locally in terms of
how to feed and care for them. The GUC was
able to provide the cooperatives not only with
baby chicks but with the necessary feed, vac-
cinations and technical back-up needed to
raise chickens as well as providing help with
transportation-all on a credit basis. In addi-
tion, there is a great demand for chicken in
Maputo. The GUC has also been able to
secure bank loans for individual groups to
enable them to build poultry units and other
infrastructure items.
The GUC buys all the chickens for resale
to city markets, serves as a quality control
check before resale, and assists the co-ops in
maintaining their accounts. It has also con-
structed a modern slaughterhouse with deep-
freezers to preserve chickens for sale to
hotels, restaurants, and other establishments
which buy in bulk. In 1993, besides supplying
themselves (i.e., the co-op members), the
GUC sold 822,000 chickens. Other crops,
such as fruits and vegetables, have been less
successful lately, due to the drought and,
more recently, to plagues of insects which
destroyed most produce. (While the co-ops
have access to pesticides this does not pro-
tect them from certain types of plagues.) Yet,
despite these setbacks, the co-ops managed
to produce 3,500 tons of vegetables, 1,900
tons of cereal, and 400 tons of fruit in 1993.

Ms. Rosa is the mother of seven chil-
dren. Her first husband was killed in the war.
Today, Ms. Rosa sometimes earns more than
her second husband, who is a printer "My
husband has no problem that I sometimes
earn more than he does," Ms. Rosa said. "We
have a lot of children, so although I earn more
than most people, it's still not enough with
these high prices of today "
The main activity of her co-op is chicken
farming. Every forty-five days the women sell
12,000 chickens to the GUC. Members can buy
chickens themselves at the subsidized price of
8,000 meticais (mt)-approximately U.S. $1.30.




The market price is 25,000 mt (more than U.S.
$4.00) per chicken. The previous month, her
local union made 39 million mt (approximately
U.S. $6,000) from selling chickens.
The bumper sales should enable the
women to increase their monthly salary. While
members' salaries vary slightly, all earn more
than the minimum wage of 75,000 mt. Ms.
Rosa earns, on average, 121,000 mt.
Ms. Rosa is more formally educated
than the others in her group. Speaking in
Mozambique's official language, Portuguese,
she stresses how important but hard it is for
women to obtain formal education. She, her-
self, managed to attend school up to the
fourth grade. "But then my father stopped me
from continuing because he said I would get
into trouble with boys. He wanted me to get a
job. I worked in a factory making exercise
books until I was sacked for being too young.
Then I helped a dressmaker. But I had wanted
to continue to study."
Today all of Ms. Rosa's children who are
old enough attend school.

Training and Education of
Cooperative Members
Training has been an important compo-
nent in ensuring the development of the co-op
movement-particularly leadership training.
The GUC maintains its own training center and
all members attend a leadership training class
for one week every year.3 In addition, over the
past three years, the GUC has trained 900 co-
op members to serve as managers. To partici-
pate in the management training program,
members must be able to read and write and
have attended at least four years of school.
Regular meetings with the GUC also help each
co-op to develop budgetary plans. Most of the
women have not had to deal with credit repay-
ment before. Through this process, they are
learning to look more towards the future, rather
than just at immediate gains. Training has also
been offered in subjects as varied as chicken
breeding, agriculture, accounting, and pottery.

More Than Just Farming
As has been documented in a previous
edition of SEEDS (Child Care: Meeting the
Needs of Working Mothers and Their Children

No. 13, 1991), one of working women's primary
concerns is who will care for their children
while they work. With donor support, the GUC
has been able to set up thirty-five day-nurs-
eries. The nurseries, however, ran into difficul-
ties when NGO support terminated. Lack
of parental involvement and nonpayment of
fees threatened continuation of these ser-
vices, but the situation is gradually being
resolved by the members themselves. The
GUC has provided assistance in the con-
struction of creches and has encouraged the
co-ops to pay staff out of their profits.
Older children usually attend govern-
ment primary and secondary schools.
However, the GUC did build one secondary
school in 1986 which is now attended by
1,000 students. A commercial institute has
also been established which offers training to
older children in economics and accounting.
It is hoped these young people will, in turn, be
able to assist their mothers in the running of
the cooperatives. Enrollment has already
increased from 14, when the institute opened,
to 40 students who study in the evenings.

Funding and Support
To be able to offer such wide-ranging
support, the GUC has had to rely on the finan-
cial support of international and non-govern-
mental organizations. To date, the GUC has
received assistance from the governments of
Norway, Switzerland, and Canada; private
organizations such as the National Council of
Negro Women in the United States; and
UNICEF. Gradually, however, it is building a
foundation for financial self-sufficiency, and
since 1992, the GUC has received only occa-
sional outside aid. Its chicken-breeding pro-
ject, supported by a World Bank loan and
credit from local banks, is currently a major
source of income. With the GUC standing
as collateral, the co-ops are able to obtain
commercial loans through regular channels
without any support from the government.
As one donor report recently stated:
"The GUC has developed from a couple of
illiterate women into a powerful peasant orga-
nization." At the national level, the GUC has
also become active in the formation of the
National Union of Peasants (UNAC). Today,
the UNAC is probably the NGO most repre-
sentative of rural women in Mozambique.

People's Development Is More
Than Economic Development
Economic power, personal develop-
ment, and choice are probably the main ben-
efits enjoyed by the women of the Green
Zones, many of whom are widowed or
divorced. "Women don't have to put up with
bad treatment anymore," says the forty-year-
old president of a group of five cooperatives
in Tsalala zone. "They are earning money,
some for the first time. They can survive by
Without the Green Zones initiative, most
of the women-who have little, if any, formal
education-would be either desperately poor,
or trapped in unhappy marriages. While the
co-ops cannot provide answers to all their
problems, the women have been given a
chance to earn a wage. Thus they are able to
support their families, improve their skills, and
contribute to the local economy.
At first, many of the married women
found that their husbands were threatened by
the Green Zones initiative. In the early days,
men often beat up their wives or even divorced

them if they joined. But gradually, as the
women began to earn money, their husbands
became more accepting. A few men even
joined, but generally they serve as guards or
"handy men.

Louise Fomo is president of the 29th of
September co-op. A mother of three children,
Ms Fomo chose to find another husband
three years after her first spouse died. "It was
my wish because I was young when my hus-
band died and I needed support. I had seri-
ous problems. I had nobody to help me. I had
to beg my kin for food."
Ms. Fomo is the second wife of her new
husband. Asked whether she minds the fact
that her husband has another wife, she
replies, "I don't want to lie and say it's easy.
But I have been a second wife before, so it is
not a new thing for me. I have my own house
and I have nothing to do with the first wife."
And with the help of the Green Zones, which
she joined ten years ago, Ms. Fomo has man-
aged to build up a life of her own against
major odds.
The war forced her to abandon her own
machamba. At that time, even the co-op was
unsafe. Everybody had to leave by 2:00 pm to
take refuge in shelters made of plastic sheet-
ing and sticks they had built around the city.
Families in her area were often kidnapped,
and the co-op itself was attacked and chick-
ens stolen. Having to leave the co-op early
also disrupted her literacy classes. Ms. Fomo,
who does not know her age, has had no for-
mal education and cannot read or write.
Even though there is now peace, Ms.
Fomo still cannot work on her own plot
because it is far from her home and public
transport is costly. Furthermore, much of the
land that was deserted during the war years
was mined, as many people, particularly
women and children, have found out.

Looking to the Future
Most co-op members are now keen to
invest their profits for the future. Many of the
women talk about investment plans for the
co-ops if they have extra cash, rather than
the immediate satisfaction of a wage
increase. For example, members talk about
buying a mill, so that they do not have to send

their maize away to be ground, and about
building pens to keep pigs and hutches for

A Difficult Act to Follow
The Maputo Green Zones is a success
story which, thus far, has proved difficult to
repeat in other parts of Mozambique. After
supporting the Maputo Green Zones since
1984, UNICEF is currently directing most of its
attention to the Green Zones of Beira,
Mozambique's second largest city and major
port. However, while the goal of the project is
the same-to help women develop economi-
cally and personally-the economic activities
in Beira are less geared towards agriculture.
The experience in Beira thus far clearly
demonstrates why trying to replicate "model"
projects in other settings is often problematic.
For example, despite the existence of a
local Green Zones office, the women who
farm in the Beira Green Zones are very scat-
tered and their plots are much smaller, and
nearer to the city, than those in Maputo. Also,
unlike Maputo, there is no existing coop-
erative structure on which to build. More
importantly, like the other major cities in
Mozambique, Beira is not nearly as large a
market for produce as is the capital, Maputo.
Nor does Beira possess the infrastructure,
capital, or business expertise that contributed
to the success of the Maputo project. The
UNICEF project in Beira has, therefore, had to
bring the women farmers together as individ-
uals, helping them attain skills primarily in hor-
ticulture and non-farm-related sectors rather
than being able to develop or work through a
farm-based structure.

The Beira Green Zones Project
The women in this project differ from
those in Maputo in that they are caught in a
trap of being unable to fully exploit agricultur-
al activities because of insufficient land, while
also being unable to break into the formal
employment sector because of lack of educa-
tion. Typically, these women are subsistence
farmers who grow one or two crops, usually
rice and sweet potatoes; but last year, a
plague of grasshoppers destroyed the entire
rice crop. Other women in the area are now

without any land because they had to flee dur-
ing the war, leaving behind their plots, tools,
and possessions. Many try to earn money by
working on other people's farms or by brew-
ing beer.
The Beira Green Zones project was
actually established some years ago, but
membership dwindled over the years due to
the war when many women had to abandon
their land and move into the city. Now it is
growing once again. Over 300 women in three
of Beira's poorest suburbs currently benefit
from the project. There is no direct relation-
ship between the Maputo and Beira projects:
the former operates through the GUC while
the latter is linked to the Ministry of
The Beira project is a center-based pro-
gram. The centers are open in the afternoon
to allow the women time in the morning to
tackle their daily chores, fetching water and
firewood, working on their machambas, doing
their washing, and preparing meals. Activities
focus on practical concerns such as horticul-
ture and constructing improved stoves. At a
demonstration of how to construct new cook
stoves, a woman stamped energetically on a
mixture of sand, water, and grass, while
another mixed up the clay with her hands.
They then placed the mixture in a mold and
carried it into a shed. With good maintenance
these stoves, which are safe and use little
fuel, can last up to three years.
As in the Maputo project, literacy train-
ing is an important service provided at the
centers. Unlike in some other parts of
Mozambique, most men in Beira appear keen
to have their wives learn to read and write. In
fact, many women say it was their husbands
who encouraged them to join the classes. It
probably helps that the centers have been
existence for six years and the leaders are
respected members of the community.
Especially relevant to the women farm-
ers are the horticultural classes offered free of
charge. A local extension worker gives class-
es once a week to improve the traditional agri-
cultural practices used by the women. Two
centers have actually set up demonstration
plots for experimental purposes. The project
also sells vegetable seeds to the women at
subsidized prices.

Organization and Management
Given the project's limited resources,
activities are now limited to three centers.
Initially the project was coordinated by the
Beira Green Zones office, a division of the
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture, but now
the women themselves are in control. Each
center is run by a board made up of three
women elected by the members. They man-
age a budget of ten million meticais (approxi-
mately U.S. $1500 at the current exchange
rate) provided by UNICEF and meet weekly to
discuss center activities. Any problems or
suggestions for change are then put forward
at a monthly meeting which is attended by a
UNICEF representative and someone from the
Beira Green Zones office. All decisions are
made by consensus. Because the women
lack management experience, a coordinating
team made up of an extension worker, an
accountant, and a literacy teacher from the
Green Zones office assist in the management
of each center.
In March 1993, the members of the cen-
ters and the coordinating team carried out a
survey to assess the women's needs and

expectations. The survey indicated that the
following areas should be developed:
Raising funds, mainly by selling coal and
firewood and by setting up and offering
the services of a diesel-operated grind-
ing mill. The income earned will be
shared among the women and used to
cover the cost of running the centers;
Training in literacy and adult education,
sewing, food processing, cooking, horti-
culture, making improved stoves, and
provision of credit;
Promoting the centers and mobilizing
more women to join because they are
now operating at less than capacity and
would like to serve more poor women
farmers in the suburban area.
"One of the major challenges now is
reaching the women," says Adelaide Alfiu, the
extension worker. Ms. Alfiu and her two col-
leagues at the Green Zones office usually go
to the fields themselves to ask women farmers
to come to the centers. Sometimes women
hear about the projects and come on their
own accord, like Rosita Salimo.

Rosita Salimo first came to the "Centro
De Vaz," one of the three training centers, as
a last resort. Her radiant yellow cloth,
wrapped around her tiny waist, and matching
blouse contrast sharply with her cracked skin
and broken toenails. She enters the class-
room hesitantly and begins to tell her story in
the local language, Masena.
"I came to Beira two years ago with my
husband, who worked as a plumber, but he is
now unable to work after becoming mentally
ill," says Ms. Salimo, the mother of five chil-
dren, four of whom are under thirteen years of
age. She has a small plot of land where she
grows rice, but only for the family's consump-
tion. During the planting and harvesting sea-
son, she sometimes has the opportunity to
work on other people's farms for about 5,000
meticais a day (U.S. $1).
"I can't buy enough food for my family,"
she says. "I can bear the hunger but the chil-
dren can't." None of her children go to school
because Ms. Salimo has no money for school
books or other basic items; each child has only
one item of clothing. Ms. Salimo has her yellow
capalana, or wrap, for special occasions; oth-
erwise she just has one other cloth which she
uses for farming. "Sometimes I can buy soap,"

she added, "but I prefer to buy food."
Yet Ms. Salimo feels hopeful that partic-
ipating in the center can help lift her out of the
extreme poverty engulfing her Before she
became involved, she had heard people in
her community talking about the center and
its activities. As Ms. Salimo talks about her
wish to participate, music can be heard. She
walks out to see what is going on.
Standing in a circle, a woman blows a
horn, a man drums, and a group of women
clap a rhythm with blocks of wood. Others
use whistles, and the rest, including some
children, clap in perfect time. The women
take turns entering the center of the circle,
dancing barefoot to the thumping beat.
Suddenly Ms. Salimo is no longer a
newcomer. Her head held high, she dances
into the middle of the circle by herself, mov-
ing every part of her body, completely lost in
the music, already seeming to leave her
problems behind.
Of course, like that of the other women,
her poverty is not going to vanish, but Ms.
Salimo now has the chance to gain skills that
can help her to earn more money to learn to
read and write, and, at least for a while, to for-
get her problems and dance.


3; ,W-vi



Credit Opens Doors
Because agricultural production is not
organized the way it is in Maputo, most of the
women farmers who participate in the Beira
program need other, non-farm-based oppor-
tunities to earn cash income. In July 1993, ten
women from each center participated in a
two-week course run by the literacy teacher
on how to carry out a feasibility study and
manage money. A cash credit of 200,000 meti-
cais (about U.S. $31) was given to each par-
ticipant who qualified according to the terms
laid down by the group (e.g., proven commit-
ment to the group, completion of training
program, up-to-date vaccination card for her
children) to develop or expand a small busi-
ness. Funding was provided by UNICEF.
Most of the women used the money to
invest in activities related to their farming
activities, such as the sale of home-brewed
beer or the resale of vegetables and maize
flour in the local community. Others became
engaged in the resale of dried shrimp and fish
in towns and villages located further inland.
With the money they have earned, these
women have been able to improve their diet
and buy clothes, school books, and pens for
their children, as well as putting aside a small

portion as savings. The women pay 3 percent
interest on their loans, and so far there have
been no delays in repayment.
At the end of the training course, the
women performed a humorous play about the
pros and cons of business life in an unpre-
dictable market. The play will be used in the
next course to provoke discussions and draw
attention to marketing problems.

Emilita Antonia was one of the beneficia-
ries of the first course. A thirty-three-year-old
mother of six, Ms. Antonia runs her household
pretty much by herself. Her husband has
been away for years, working in South Africa.
"The previous year he sent money to us,
but this year he hasn't sent anything," says
Ms. Antonia.
Despite being, in effect, a single parent
and only having passed grade one at school,
Ms. Antonia has managed to establish a small
business. She was one of those who received
credit of 200,000 meticais, which she used to
buy wholesale bags of maize, bananas, and
oranges, which she then resells. Last month
she made a profit of 50,000 meticais (approx-
imately U.S. $8).

Lessons Learned

1. Exporting development models,
even within the same country, is a chal-
lenge which requires attention to the
unique circumstances in each locale. In
many developing countries, business, gov-
ernment, and development assistance are all
centered in one major city. Thus, as is the
case in Mozambique, what worked in the cap-
ital, Maputo, could not be readily transferred
to another urban site-even the second-
largest city. In Maputo, the UNICEF project
was able to build upon an existing coopera-
tive structure put in place to help meet the
food needs of the capital city. This infrastruc-
ture is lacking in Beira, which has resulted in
development of a more traditional intervention
that is thus having, at this early stage in its
development, less direct impact on women's
economic productivity.
2. People need to see how they will
benefit and know they have some degree
of control before they can be brought
together to work productively. Mozam-
bicans did not naturally warm to the idea of
joining cooperatives, based on their past
exploitation, first by the Portuguese (who
forced thousands of people to toil on large
estates as virtual slaves), and then by a num-
ber of unsuccessful policies of the socialist
government aimed at the collectivization of
agriculture. To bring farmers together into a
cooperative structure, it was necessary to
demonstrate the economic advantage that
they themselves would gain and to give them
an active voice in operating and guiding the
cooperative structure.
3. It is important that projects be real-
istic about the degree of commitment that
can be expected from participants and
their motivation for joining a specific pro-
ject. Many women initially joined the GUC
because it offered access to goods and ser-
vices that were in short supply or far too costly
during the height of the war years, rather than
because they were committed to the cooper-
ative movement. Fortunately, the majority of
women realized the value of working together
and remained involved even when market
controls were lifted and goods became more
readily available.
4. The marketing role of the GUC has
been pivotal in ensuring the cooperative

members an outlet for their produce. By
providing slaughterhouse facilities, cold stor-
age, and contracts with merchants and retail-
ers, the GUC has been able to provide a
stable market for the women producers. They
have removed the need to deal with middle-
persons and are giving the women farmers
immediate access to their profits, without the
need for them to deal with banks.
5. It is important to view mainstream-
ing as more than providing opportunities
to earn. It is important for women to secure
assets in their own right. The GUC has also
been instrumental in assisting many of the
women to gain title to their land. The impor-
tance of ownership is further underscored
by the decision of many of the cooperatives
to make some low-cost farming equipment
private property. Thus, the women are seek-
ing to find the right balance between private
and collective ownership that best serves
their needs.
6. The experience of the Green Zones
projects emphasizes why women's eco-
nomic needs can rarely be addressed in
isolation. Even though the women farmers in
Mozambique were desperately poor, eco-
nomic objectives were not their only concern.
Over and over again, the women mention the
value they place on literacy classes in a coun-
try that has one of the highest levels of
illiteracy in the world. Offering women literacy
classes and management training, helping
them to reduce their heavy workloads by pro-
viding access to water, child care, and health
facilities, as well as offering children a place
in school, are all vital elements in the success
of the Maputo Green Zones project.
7. The Green Zones projects have
also been instrumental in empowering
women to make choices in their personal
lives, in some cases offering them an alter-
native to abusive marriages and in others

helping them to gain greater respect and
autonomy within their homes. The ability
to earn income, combined with the supportive
structure of the cooperatives, has been the key.
8. There is power in numbers. The
GUC, in addition to supporting the coopera-
tives, has become influential within larger
forums that affect the well-being of poor
women in Mozambique. Thus, the GUC is
able to provide representation for its members
within the broader political arena.

1 Irene Fehr, 1985, "Women in Agricultural Cooperatives:
Green Zones Maputo" (Presentation at the Workshop
on Exploring Alternative Programs for Women, Comilla,
Bangladesh, February 1985). UNICEF (undated)
"Mozambique's Green Zones Cooperatives A Chal-
lenge" (project documentation). Nadja Youssef, 1985,
Trip report of visit to the Mozambique Green Zones
(UNICEF, July 1985).

2. Stephanie Urdang, 1989, And They Still Dance:
Women, War, and the Struggle for Change in
Mozambique (New York: Monthly Review Press)

3. Kristin Helmore, 1989, "Grass-Roots Projects," special
report of the Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 1989.






Design: Ann Leonard
Cover Photo: Joel Chiziane
Typography: Line & Tone Group, Inc.
Printing: Graphic Impressions

Other Editions of SEEDS Currently Available
No. 2 Hanover Street: An Experiment to Train Women in Welding
and Carpentry-Jamaica (English, Spanish)
No. 3 Not Available
No. 4 Women and Handicrafts: Myth and Reality-International
(English, Spanish, French)
No. 5 The Markala Cooperative: A New Approach to Traditional
Economic Roles-Mali (English, French)
No. 6 The Working Women's Forum: Organizing for Credit and
Change-India (English, French)
No. 7 Developing Non-Craft Employment for Women in
Bangladesh (English)
No. 8 Community Management of Waste Recycling: The
SIRDO-Mexico (English)
No. 9 The Women's Construction Collective: Building for the
Future-Jamaica (English, Spanish)
No. 10 Forest Conservation in Nepal: Encouraging Women's
Participation (English, Spanish, French)
No. 11 Port Sudan Small Scale Enterprise Program--Sudan
No. 12 The Muek-Lek Women's Dairy Project in Thailand
No. 13 Child Care: Meeting the Needs of Working Mothers and
Their Children (English, Spanish)
No. 14 Breaking New Ground: Reaching Out to Women Farmers
in Western Zambia (English, French)
No. 15 Self-Employment as a Means to Women's Economic Self-
Sufficiency: WomenVenture's Business Development
Program (English)
No. 16 Wasteland Development and the Empowerment of
Women: The SARTHI Experience (English, French)

If you would like additional copies of this issue or any of the edi-
tions of SEEDS listed above, please write to us at the address
given below. Copies of selected SEEDS issues in local languages
are currently being published by organizations in the following
countries: Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan,
Thailand and Vietnam. Please write to us for more information if
you are interested in these materials.

Ann Leonard, Editor
P.O. Box 3923
Grand Central Station
New York, New York 10163, U.S.A.

8. 1.:~~~:-I II : I II:- 'r;.. 1-I rr Il]l~j

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs