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Non-Winner at DM2009 Scores Big

Christian Steiner's picture


The "zero-emission fridge" seed storage silo to help subsistence farmers in northern Mozambique get through the "hunger period" was a non-winning finalist at DM2009.  But I have good news since the competition.  Our project, sponsored by Helvetas (Swiss Association for International Cooperation), will receive approximately US$2 million from the European Commission Food Facility to establish 90 seed banks benefitting 38,000 families in 300 communities.

The success of the clay silo is a story of adaptation on two levels.  First, the silo can help subsistence farmers and their families adapt to climate change that is extending the drought-caused October-to-January "hunger period."  Second, the ingenious design -- woven bamboo covered by clay -- produced a silo that had all the features of the original (and more expensive) metal storage facility, but was affordable to poor farmers.  A native farmer, Gilberto Tethere in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado Province, produced the "Zero Emission Fridge for Rural Africa" (ZEFRA) by developing a low-cost silo using only locally available low-cost materials and applying traditional construction techniques.

The Technical Secretariat for Food Security of the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture has promised that this innovative silo will be built across all Mozambique.


Congratulations to Helvetas. I think this is great news and show the potential of the innovative silos in conserving seeds for farmers. It is unfortunate that it is taking place in Mozambique and not in Ethiopia where our winning proposal (DM 3959) on adaptation to climate change: innovative tools to match seeds to the needs of women farmers in Ethiopia could have benefitted from the zero fridge emission proposal in a very complementary way. I am currently in Ethiopia and has started planning for our project and visited some farmers and saw that they have established a community seed bank which function under the same principles as our friends in Mozambique. Any way well done Helvetas and good luck with the project.

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