Boosting Agroecology in Urban areas: the AGRI.URB project


The Agri.Urb project aimed at the improvement of food and nutritional security of families in the city of Maputo, and at the strengthening of sustainable agroecological urban agriculture in the peri-urban areas of the Zonas Verdes de Maputo through the promotion of training activities in agriculture, the support to local production of inputs, and small infrastructural interventions.

Lead organization

The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) was established in 2014 and started to operate in January 2016, with the aim of aligning Italy with its principal European and global partners in the endeavor of development.  Based in Rome, AICS runs another base in Florence and has 20 field offices worldwide for assessing local needs, implementing development initiatives, monitoring results and building partnerships on the ground. The Agency’s mission is to “perform technical and operational activities associated with the examination, development, financing, management and control of the cooperation initiatives. Within the Agency, the food security and rural development office is currently implementing around 120 initiatives, 60% of which is on rural development and 40% focuses on food security. Cross-cutting initiatives related to topics such as youth, gender, climate, agroecology, and community resilience to climate change, are also key in their programmes.

The project is operated by the AICS field office in Maputo (Mozambique).

Partner organizations:

  • WeWorld-GVC is the implementing civil society organization. This Italy-based CSO was created in 2018 after the merger of two organizations (We World Onlus and Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC)). Their work is focused on children, women and marginal communities, with a mission to guarantee a decent livelihood in a fair and inclusive world. They run humanitarian and economic programmes in Italy, and other countries in Africa, Caribbean and Latin America, South-East Asia and Middle East.
  • AVSI: is an Italy-based NGO created in 1972 implementing development and humanitarian programmes in 40 countries (Africa, Caribbean and Latin America, South-East Asia and Middle East) including Italy. The NGO focuses on various topics including agriculture, energy, education, urban development, health, etc.
  • Associação para Desenvolvimento Sustentável (ABIODES): is a Mozambique-based NGO created in 1999 which aimis at infusing sustainable and inclusive development through agriculture and the rational use of natural resources. They have three workstreams: (1) Agriculture and Food Security, (2) Environment and Natural Resources and (3) Lobbying and Advocacy.
  • Associacao para a Defesa e Desenvolvimento da Sociedade (ADDESSO): is a Mozambique-based NGO working in the areas of education, environment, economic empowerment, health and citizenship.

The project is implemented in four districts of the Municipality of Maputo (Mozambique Capital City)


From July 2022 to September 2023 (15 Months).


The total cost of the project is EUR 270,000 Euro funded by AICS.

  • Contributing to the improvement of food and nutritional security of families in the City of Maputo, and
  • Strengthening sustainable agroecological urban agriculture in the peri-urban areas of the Zonas Verdes de Maputo (Green Zones of Maputo) through the promotion of training activities in agriculture, the support to local production of inputs, small infrastructural interventions (small greenhouses and irrigation systems).
  • Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique, home to 1.1 million and spread over 300 km square.
  • Maputo’s urban Agriculture main characteristics:
    • Extensive green zones so-called “zonas verdes” (established by colonists two centuries ago) where 14,500+ farmers undertake their activity.
    • Production systems are home/backyard gardens, small-scale, and commercial farms.
    • 5% of the population directly earn revenues from agriculture.
    • Around 40,000 are involved in urban agriculture related activities.
    • The population faces income challenges, 70% of whom could hardly cover monthly food costs.
    • They mainly produce cabbage and lettuce through monoculture which leads to pest issues, high use of pesticides, and health risks.
    • There are many farmers associations in Maputo’s urban agriculture, with a role to regulate land use rights and facilitate knowledge exchange (e.g. on-farm training, personal and farmer-to-farmer advising).
    • Challenges and risks:
      • Marketing, innovation, and knowledge transfer challenges.
      • Climate change related impacts.
      • Contamination risks of water streams due to the high use of agrochemicals.
      • Farmers face theft and vandalism on their farms.
      • Urbanization threatens the availability of land for farming.
Main beneficiaries
  • Smallholder farmers (farms of 0,12 ha) growing mainly leaf vegetables (beets, cabbage and spinach)
  • And 104 farmers members (40% women and 60% men) from 4 associations working in urban areas.



    Specific Objective: Sustainably strengthen urban agroecological farming and livestock activities in the Green Zones of Maputo (Zonas Verdes de Maputo – ZVM) in the Municipal Districts of KaMavota and KaMubukwana.



    1. Activities for co-creation and exchange of knowledge were based on the approach “Formação Agrícola Participativa” (FAP) (Agroecology Principle 8 and Agroecology Element 2):

     Recruitment and group formation:

      • Farmers expressed interest and were recruited.
      • 15 to 30 farmers were formed by the same association.
    • Training sessions and topics were organized:
      • Year-long program with regular meetings and workshops
      • Topics include agroecology principles, soil fertility management, biopesticides, composting, seed production, water management
    • Participatory learning and knowledge exchange which combines theory with practical demonstrations and encourages active participation on demonstration plots.
    • Continuous support and monitoring: Field visits and mentoring on the right use of agroecological practices by the project technical staff.

     2. Activities on Recycling, Input Reduction and Soil Health (Agroecology Principles 1, 2, 3 and 6, and Elements 4 and 5):

    The global objectives are to (1) reduce the overall use of inputs (both organic and synthetic) and (2) use functional biodiversity. Accordingly, the first step of the transition towards agroecology was the use of local manure was the best solution before a total phase out.

    • Recycling:
      • High recirculation of Nutrients (Mulching)
      • Use of Nitrogen-Fixing plants
    • Low dependency on external inputs:
      • Manure produced on farm thanks to the introduction of small animals such as chickens and rabbits
      • Seeds production
    • High crop diversity (5 Crops Intercropped)
    • High Landscape Diversity (Use of Natural Fences)
    • Use of fruit Trees for soil regeneration, shadow and windbreak
    • Plant health and pest management
      • Bio-pesticides produced on farm (Garlic-Chili-Soap-Ash)
      • Functional biodiversity: Chili – Garlic – Onions, Used as Natural Repellents

    3.Activities on connectivity and markets (Agroecology Principle 11 on Connectivity and Agroecology Element 10 on Circular and Social Economy):

    • Agroecological fairs were organized monthly.
    • Discussions on the implementation of an agroecological label (it was created but the Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) is not yet in place

    Effects and impacts

    Evaluation and Monitoring Methods

    • The performance of the project was assessed through the Agroecology Assessment Finance Tool and results showed a good performance for co-creation and exchange of knowledge (Agroecology Principle 8), synergy (Agroecology Principle 6), soil health (Agroecology Principle 3) and recycling (Agroecology Principle 1).

    Lessons learned and results

    • The agroecology in Urban and Peri-urban contexts could bring multiple benefits such as increased livelihood, biodiversity, resilience, and health.
    • The Formação Agrícola Participativa (FAP) has been proven effective to spread agroecology practices.
    • The project targeted 104 direct beneficiaries (40 women and 64 men).
    • The agroecology lighthouses (promoters) are recognized among the association and have been evidenced by their role in promoting agroecology practices.
    • The project highlighted the cost reduction and efficiency of agroecological practices (Crop diversification allows production all year long).
    • As people are not aware of agroecological products, agroecological fairs were very helpful to sensitize consumers and link them directly to farmers.
    • It was noticed that agroecology practices seem to be more labor-intensive than conventional practices.

    Enabling Conditions

    • Subsidies are necessary in a risk-averse environment for farmers to promote the agroecological transition.
    • The promotion of market access of agroecological products (Labels) and direct selling are favorable given agroecology is still a niche market and unknown. Farmers produced very high-quality products (in taste) compared to others, so consumers were ready to pay more.

    What are the limiting factors which prevent a wider implementation?

    • Socio-economic pressure: Lack of subsidies to support agroecological transition (Farmers Highly Risk-Averse)
    • Access to land and conflict of interest: high urbanization pressure and land speculation.
    • Regulations and policies: Lack of favorable policies and regulations to scale up agroecology.
    • Market and distribution: Lack of dedicated channels for agroecological products.



    Mr. Andrea Santopaolo, MSc UN Fellow at AICS field office in Maputo (Mozambique),

    Mrs. Federica de Gaetano – PhD Technical Officer at AICS office VI Rural Development and Food Security,

    Picture credits: AICS Maputo Office