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Maputo - Green, Sustainable and Healthy City

Urban small scale farmers have taken advantage of innovative green tech and become main suppliers of organic and healthy food to the City.

Photo of Iracema de Sousa
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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Maputo City

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I was born and raised in Maputo city.

I am distressed: the open-field horticulture is languishing, throwing my co-citizens to absolute poverty. Small scale farmers that have historically supplied the market are victims of the negative effects of climate change.

In markets stalls, now prevail products imported from our neighbor country South Africa. Consequently, my city is eating non-healthy, and non-green food.

Fortunatelly, my city has peculiarities that could make it develop a modern, resilient, vertical and green urban agriculture. For example, many of the houses have large yards: the modal size of a residential lot is 800 square meters, with about 500 square meters of yard left idle.

In late 2018, I decided to act entrepreneurially and created INOVAGRI as a family business. We applied to The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) — Africa’s leading philanthropy dedicated to empowering African entrepreneurs. We were one of 1000 successful candidates out of over 150,000 candidates which were accepted at TEF Entrepreneurship programme. In concrete terms we were able to design a Vision-related business model that we are presenting through this application. Throughout 2019, we pursued some of the cultivation ideas, we did some market testing, and we came to be convinced that we will be succeed if we enter the market in a major scale.

The main lessons learned were: using innovative technologies (such as hydroponics, vertical agriculture and the use of greenhouses), with a view to producing in a closed environment of high productivity per square meter and facing the market supply, in the 500 square meters of the yard is the viable alternative to agriculture in open fields and dependent on climate generosity, but it is prohibitive for small scalle farmers because it is extremely hi tech and the assembly of the structure is expensive for them.

 So we designed our solution to achieve our vision which we hope to get a partner to make it come true.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is also the main financial, corporate and commercial center of the country. It is located on the western shores of Maputo Bay, in the far south of the country: 25° 58' S 32° 35' E. The city is administratively a municipality with an elected government. It has a population of 1,088,449 (2017).

Maputo features a tropical savanna climate (Aw) bordering on a hot semi-arid climate (BSh) under the Köppen climate classification. Maputo is a relatively dry city, averaging 813.6 millimetres (32.0 inches) of precipitation per year. Precipitation is abundant during summer and only little during winter. The city has a relatively warm climate averaging a mean temperature of 22.8 °C (73.0 °F). The hottest month is January with a mean temperature of 26.8 °C (80.2 °F), while the coolest month is July with a mean temperature of 18.8 °C (65.8 °F).

The Human Development Index (HDI), measured by the UN, is 0.644, considered medium by world standards. Urban poverty range almost 10% of the population.

The city consists of seven administrative divisions, which are each subdivided into quarters or bairros.

Maputo is a melting pot of several cultures. The Bantu and Portuguese cultures dominate, but the influence of Arab, Indian, and Chinese cultures is also felt.

Maputo has a number of landmarks, including Independence Square, City Hall, Maputo Fortress, the central market, Tunduru Gardens, and Maputo Railway Station. With wide avenues lined by jacaranda and acacia trees, it has earned the nicknames City of Acacias and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The acacia trees give color, soften the heat and leave the most beautiful environment. Bob Dylan visited Maputo and based on that dedicated a song to Mozambique:

Maputo is a port city, with an economy centered on commerce. Through its port, much of Mozambique's imports and exports are shipped. In addition to trade, the city has robust manufacturing and service sectors.

About three-quarters of Maputo’s population live in informal “bairros” in the poverty belt.

The public transport system in Maputo is quite deficient, due to the limited vehicle fleet and the poor conditions of the access roads. To meet the demand for transport, there are private semi-collectives, known as “plate 100”, and recently the “My Love” trucks have come back onto the scene, called by the fact that people always have to travel glued and close together.

Situated on the Indian Ocean, Maputo is particularly vulnerable to climate impacts such as cyclones, flooding and sea level rise. Poverty and inequality, which are concentrated in the overpopulated “bairros”, further exacerbate climate change vulnerabilities in the city.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Horticulture in Maputo is now carried out almost totally in open fields mainly of two regions of the considered green belt of the city of Maputo: Valley of the Infulene and Mahotas. The water sources in the Infulene Valley are the local springs that feed the Mulaúze river, and in Mahotas the water is collected from open wells. It turns out that both are susceptible to drought. Production is also affected by frequent flooding and cyclones. This type of horticulture is languishing more and more each day since extreme climatic events tend to occur more frequently in the region. In the two production regions of the capital, farmers claim that pesticides are no longer strong enough and effective enough to fight pests, especially the whitefly. These phenomena have enormous financial and social implications. More time is needed for the treatment of crops, since the incomes that support the livelihoods of producers and their families are derived solely from the marketing of horticultural crops. It is no exaggeration that with the effects of climate change, by 2030, this type of rudimentary and climate dependant horticulture will have completely failed, increasing poverty numbers and making Mozambique completely dependent on the import of vegetables.

By the other hand, in Mozambique, post-harvest treatment of vegetables, in terms of handling, packaging and transportation, still has several aspects that need to be improved. Harvesting is done by intermediaries, and vegetables are packed in bundles and carried on the head and / or in transport vehicles under inadequate conditions. The marketing is done in several outdoor outlets on streets and walks, under improper conditions of hygiene and without quality guarantee. In view of these problems, vegetables produced in the region are of low quality and a risk for health: therefore these vegetables only marketed in informal markets and city fairs, with low acceptance in supermarket chains.

Without an critical intervention this scenario will tend to worsen.

Maputo is one of the launch members of UN-Habitat’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative and is one of five partner cities in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ “Sub-Saharan African Cities: A Five-City Network to Pioneer Climate Adaptation through Participatory Research and Local Action” project (Boyd et al. 2014). However, a recent study found that “Maputo is a city in which the intensifying impacts of climate change and ineffective urban governance are creating a multiplicity of challenges for already disadvantaged informal residents” (Neville 2013: 54).

 In 2050 we will be living in a very unsustainable city, featured by: (i) consumption of local products of lower intrinsic and visual quality; (ii) consumption of non-ecological food imported from South Africa and Swaziland, nor related to the Mozambican flavor; (iii) worsening living conditions of a large fringe of family gardeners within Maputo city, estimated at around 15,000 who cultivate around 1300 hectares of open fields.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We have designed a functional innovative business model that allows urban small scale farmers to take advantage of innovative green, highly productive, hi-tech and expensive technologies available in the Agriculture sector and, consequently, to make the city of Maputo access fresh, organic and healthy vegetables and engage in environmentally friendly urban agriculture.

 We have become the first movers and the leading company on the intensive production of food (vegetables, and poultry meat and eggs), in the urban environment, using the Outgrowers system and placing fresh and pre-processed products on the market. The business model foresees the following two aspects of production and sale for profit: 1) A direct production in own project space (urban farm) and indirect production through Outgrowers contracting system, ie a certain number of households with residential space available to install the project infrastructure. It should be noted that the dismantling productive infrastructure is owned by the project which will also offer on-site and / or remote technical assistance through ICT for crop treatment. 2) Selling the production to large customers with whom we will have signed supply contracts and which highly value the visual and organic quality of food, continuous supply and pre-processing: caterers, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, supermarkets and consumer cooperatives. A percentage of the harvest will go to the Outgrower, as well as part of the revenue, which is obviously higher than in the traditional production system. Thus, we share the belief that a positive future requires developing new ways of thinking and working. Our project seeks to increase the production of organic food, of local taste, and insert it in the market, substituting imported food. We also believe that food systems should contribute to protecting and regenerating the environment. Thus, our production and marketing models, based in green technologies , allows us to address the following climate vulnerabilities: (i) Soil degradation: by applying vertical farming, roof farming, aquaponics and hydroponics which allows a soil-less cultivation; and the option of exploring previously unproductive land; (ii) Water scarcity: by relying in techniques that save water to 95% when compared to open field irrigation system, e.g. water is recycled in the aquaponics system;  uses rainwater harvested at the Outgrower´s facilities (City piped water is just a guarantee of continuous water availability); (iii) Flooding and wind: by farming in a protected environment, namely, in containers and greenhouses; (iv) Unsustainable fishing: by replacing catch fisheries with fish farming; (v) Unsustainable livelihoods: by creating more direct and indirect jobs and by integrating more households in production sector

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In 2050, Maputo is as always a vibrant city, but now is aknowledged as a Green, Sustainable and Healthy city. Studies show up that public green space are bringing positive effects on wellness and air quality. This impact ensures that Maputo are becoming a better place to live and work. Our project, especially, our operational model, is the engine of this new scenario: we have contributing a lot to the democratization of the use of green and highly productive agriculture techniques by poor urban family farmers, relieving them from the need for funding and high tech knowledge. Therefore, people living in the crowded city of Maputo are growing fresh vegetables and poultry in small parcels of land within their own home yards. And by means of our project, a regular and abundant supply of high quality fresh vegetable and meat, are being produced, sterile areas have been made productive at relatively low cost. The development impacts are at the opening of the eye: 10 direct jobs created and more than 100 outgrowers involved; Increased income of Outgrowers households; Food security and improved family nutrition (directly for about 110 adults and 500 children); Improved quality of life for thousands of townspeople due to access to organic food; Low footprint of city farmers and food wholesalers and retailers; Transfer of technologies to other farmers; grat contribution to reducing poverty rates; Great help for public health: since the farm implies the existence of tanks for fish, we are also cultivating plants that repel the mosquito in the yard of the Outgrower; and Promotion of the entrepreneurship of families interested in selling INOVAGRI´s products in some corners of the street.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

This project addresses the following Themes in an integrated way: (i) Technology - the production technologies related to urban agriculture, essentially vertical and integrated production, have already been tested and are used around the world, so this project is a kind of technology transfer. (ii) Environment - Our project is primarily motivated to address climate vulnerabilities so that the technologies selected are all green. (iii) Economics - A city with dozens of out growers, then hundreds or thousands of Outgrowers, producing food in their backyards, will have its economic dynamics clearly changed, making it more autonomous in vegetable and poultry production. This scheme will increasingly become the main supplier of supermarkets and municipal bazaars. Contemplated families will reap income that will improve their socio-economic well-being. (iv) Diet - Of course, both producers and consumers will have greater access to organic food, the most recommended for health. The production system we propose guarantees not only the continuous availability of products as it is not so dependant on climate seasons, but also fresher products because the place of production is the same as the place of consumption. We must take into account that there is a growth of conscious seekers of organic products due to increase in incidence of diseases related to poor diet, namely diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition and obesity; and linked to the prevalence of HIV; (v) Culture - we hope to completely change production and consumption habits. In particular, thanks to our marketing efforts, we will promote a consumer culture of organic food. We hope also have a huge increase in green converted population living in our city; and (vi) Policy - Project results will be communicated to the municipal government as a form of advocacy to inform its climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. This project will completely change the way horticulture is viewed in urban settlements in terms of production techniques. The first gain is that open-field horticulture, dying from applying outdated technology to the effects of climate change and not focusing on the organic / biological quality that represents a competitive advantage over imported products, will be replaced by green and sustainable horticulture, with high productivity per square kilometer. The outgrower system will be understood  also as a tool to  democratizing access to the most expensive technologies, as the project is bought and installed by INOVAGRI, and not necessarily by the poor gardener involved. Our vision will be based on the use of a combination of technical and operational innovations. The business uses or adapts production technologies linked to vertical, ecological, controlled environment and high productivity farming to promote integrated food production (green leafy vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tilapia fish and / or poultry), of an organic nature within the city through home gardens set up in residential yards. So the innovations of this project lie essentially in the following: a)Modern and future agricultural technologies: greenhouse technologies, aquaculture (with horticultural integration, poultry and fish farming), vertical planting, container tubing, hydroponics, green composting using organic waste These technologies have advantages over the tecniques used nowadays, namely: •the ability to achieve modern production standards, thanks to the technologies used •The possibility of obtaining more products in less time than using traditional agriculture; •The possibility of growing plants more densely •Possibility of growing the same plant species repeatedly because there is no soil depletion •Capitalization on seasonality... Increasing crop production in low times, when everyone else is “out of the game” •Crop resilience. For example, growing potatoes in a container not only decreases the need for weeding and exposure to pests and fungi, but also avoids the risk of damaging the potatoes with the shovel at harvest time. •Adoption of a strategy for hiring urban Outgrowers, generally adopted in rural areas, minimizing the burden of owning agrarian properties in the city, and providing close technical assistance to growers without a strong knowledge of technology; •Localization of food production within the urban space (urban agriculture), making production and consumption coincide in the same market, thus eliminating much of the transportation and storage costs. Our Vision are focused on the uniqueness of our city. The first one is the changing market conditions. As people become more concerned about food healthy, we think that demand will increase for our organic products— for products that consumers know and trust. Also, as conservation becomes more important to society as a whole, we feel that more and more consumers will turn to environmentally-friendly products from crops that are ecologically raised. On the other hand, our target market is health conscious, upper middle class families, who frequent the restaurants and do their shopping in the supermarkets. We will produce a different product, the most important feature being that it is organically produced, i.e. with no use of chemicals, perceptible to customers through promotion initiatives and taste. Our products will be seen by food retailers as a way to add new products to their stores, thereby adding new customers who are willing to pay even a premium for organic products. Their customers will perceive this product as being the ultimate in taste, quality, health and sustainability. Our project also takes advantage of the following strengths and opportunities of Maputo City: • Excellent agro-climatic conditions suitable for the production of vegetables throughout the year 1• Good political-programmatic and legal conditions for production 2• Extensive level of unsatisfied demand in terms of quality and quantity 3• The motivation of families to value their home assets and earn extra income without jeopardizing other survival activities; 4• The elimination of the problem of the need for a proper plot of land, impossible within the urban environment; 5• Existence of strong demand; 6• The positive social and environmental impact of the project; 7• Growing “Made in Mozambique” appeal and 'buy local' movement. 8• The aquaculture and horticulture sectors still present major constraints with several opportunities for future investments along the entire value chain; 9• In the productive sector there are high potentialities to develop outgrower type production model (subcontract); 10• More than one million USD of fresh vegetables are imported each month, which can be replaced by our products; 11• Its possible to diversifying traditional products with new crops such as cucumber or radish due to growing demand from expatriates residing in our business target market; 12• The overwhelming majority of vegetables continue to be marketed by the informal sector and lack primary processing, forcing supermarkets to import or pre-process themselves; 13• Producers face difficulties in accessing credit, interest rates applied by financial institutions are high, and this makes it difficult to acquire the inputs needed to increase production and productivity. 14• The prices applied on Mozambican products are often higher or equal (but for lower quality) to those of products imported from abroad Our Vision is inclusive of local community members in the sense that our operational model will strategically involve poor households, many with experience in the horticultural field, albeit in outdated models. Both Outgrower families, who have been punished for the bankruptcy of horticulture using rudimentary or non-ecological techniques, and the potential customers of our products (supermarkets, restaurants, catering companies, boarding schools, hospitals, etc.) have been anxious about project, as they receive pressure from both their clients and the standards to bet on organic products. Our vision is equally congregating for two reasons: first, by the model of outgrowers that end up constituting a family, a voice, a production front; It also converges people around the protection of the environment and the need to consume organic food. We believe that once the business starts and our sales and business growth and social value forecasts are confirmed, we will be able to attract impact and profit investors and influence local authorities to promote green, intensive and green urban horticulture

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Benjamin Fahrer

great vision and look forward to diving into this more!

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