National Geographic : 2014 Jul
#futureoffood 61 the Portuguese managers came in, they met with village leaders and promised them double the amount of land to farm elsewhere as well as a school, a clinic, and new wells. Few of those promises were kept. The school and clinic were never built, though the company did buy an ambulance to take the sick to a hos- pital in Gurué, an hour’s ride away. Only about 40 men got low-paying jobs as watchmen on the farm, while hundreds were displaced. Those who did receive acreage have found it to be far from home, swampy, and overgrown. Custódio Alberto is one of them. I meet the 52-year-old farmer at a threshing party just outside the Hoyo Hoyo boundary, where two dozen men from the local Roman Catholic church are beating piles of soybeans with wooden clubs. An equal number of women are winnowing the chaff with handwoven baskets. The seven-acre plot, for the moment still controlled by the church, is next to Hoyo Hoyo’s wide-open fields, which stretch toward the green mountains in the distance. “For us as small farmers, the production of this soy guarantees the family income, even enough for us to send our children to college so they can become engineers or even doctors,” Alberto says. “Fields are fundamental for us. No fields, no life.” The displaced villagers, who survived 16 years of war, are poor but far from powerless. Soon after the Portuguese got the lease to Hoyo Hoyo, which This land outside Maputo provides a snapshot of Africa’s agricultural choices: Will its food be produced on giant, leveled plantations like Bananalandia (at left) or on small farms, called machambas? “It must be a mix of big ag and small,” says Dries Gouws, the sprawling banana farm’s founder.