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Can protecting fish and improving farms ease the food crisis in Mozambique?

Will simultaneously developing no-take fishing zones and working with farmers to establish conservation agriculture techniques result in more food for local consumption?

Fruit and vegetable vendor in Primeiras e Segundas, norhtern Mozambique market

Primeiras e Segundas, a coastal land and seascape in northern Mozambique, is one of the poorest regions in one of the world’s poorest countries. Lack of food security affects a third of all households, and most people pursue a mix of strategies to feed their families and make ends meet. For example, more than 80% of households that fish also farm.

The CARE-WWF Alliance is taking a twofold approach to helping communities bolster fisheries and increase the crop yield on family farms. The first step is helping people create no-take fishing zones that allow juvenile fish the chance to grow, reproduce, populate reefs and be available later in their life cycle as a food source. The second step includes working with farmers to fine-tune farming practices that improve soils and plant more pest-resistant varieties to increase harvest.

But does it work? Our research suggests it does. After two years, conservation agriculture practices are improving soil stability 30-40% and increasing rainfall infiltration rates (meaning more moisture stays in the soil) when compared with traditional farming practices. And the diversity of fish species inside no-take zones is proving to be 45-93% higher than outside those areas.

But what’s most exciting is the connection between the two: If WWF-CARE and communities can refine farming practices so that they are more stable, then we will alleviate much of the unsustainable pressure on fisheries as well, and families will have more food.

Read more about Brendan Fisher’s firsthand account of how this work improves lives every day.

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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