A Supplier of Seeds — and Sound Advice

After years of learning the seed business from his mentor, this farmer was ready to succeed on his own.

Driving through the outskirts of Ulongwe, a city tucked into the lush foothills of northern Mozambique, you’ll see plot after plot of maize and soy fields along the two-lane road. Once closer to the city, the Armazem Albino Armando Elissa Seed Company also comes in to view. This large compound and warehouse is where many maize and soy fields get their start.

Photo by Land O’Lakes International Development

Albino Elissa opened this seed company in 2014. Since then, farmers in the Ulongwe region have looked to Elissa for farming inputs and agronomy advice. They trust him — he is smart, hard working and has a big heart. He attributes these qualities to growing up in a poor farming family in rural Mozambique. Though his early days were challenging, a local family friend and business owner took Elissa under his wing as a mentee. After years of learning the seed business from his mentor, Elissa was ready to succeed on his own.

Today, Elissa is learning about business from a new source — the Feed the Future Mozambique Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity — Beira Corridor (RAMA-BC). Implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, RAMA-BC’s primary aim is to support local producers to increase agricultural productivity, profitability and resilience. Elissa attended a RAMA-BC business training, where he learned about marketing techniques and how to manage an inventory ledger. He was also excited to learn how to build resilience through the adoption of conservation agriculture practices, such as the benefits of adopting the practice of intercropping maize fields with legumes, like pigeon peas and beans. Legumes naturally replenish soil health and improve soil structure, which helps to reduce erosion, improve moisture retention, reduce weeds and repel pests.

“RAMA-BC is also helping by linking me to retailers and more customers,” Elissa said. “And I’m learning new farming techniques to share with other farmers.”

These techniques include low-cost practices such as seed spacing and the use of improved seeds. After the trainings, Elissa planted a demonstration plot on his compound to show farmers the comparison of using traditional methods versus advanced techniques shared by RAMA-BC.

“My customers come through and can see the positive difference of the RAMA-BC plot. The height and health of the plants are better. They ask how they can do this too,” Elissa said.

Elissa is now working with around 130 producers to improve their businesses, and his own business is benefitting too.

“They get more yields. I get more business. And these profits support my family and my quality of life,” Elissa said.

The Feed the Future Mozambique Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity (RAMA-BC) is implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development. Its primary aim is to support local producers to increase agricultural productivity, profitability and resilience.