Top photo – Manuel Manejo Machessa
Story and photos – Janado Nazare Cher
When he was born in 1981, Manuel Manejo Machessa’s parents had no idea their son would grow up to become a successful coffee producer.
The Gorongosa Coffee Project began on Mount Gorongosa near the town of Canda 33 years later in 2014. At the time, local residents were unaware of the coffee culture, and dedicated themselves to the subsistence farming of corn, mapira, beans, sesame and other crops. Years later, the coffee project is a success and has expanded to other areas of Mount Gorongosa including Tambarara and Vunduzi.
Manuel, or “Machess” as he is affectionately called, joined the coffee production project during the 2019-2020 growing season and started by planting 3,100 coffee seedlings on his farm.
His plants grew and began to bear fruit, and as his starting point showed encouraging results, he increased his crop to 10,100 coffee seedlings the next season, covering 3 hectares of land. His farm eventually grew to 4.5 hectares with a total of 14,100 coffee seedlings,
The revenue from his first harvest during the 2021-2022 season, reached 13,000.00 Meticais.
Today Machessa earns enough profits from growing coffee to pay his household expenses, enroll his children in school —including one in the Beira Institute—and still has enough left over to hire two casual employees to help him in his coffee production field.
His motivation to work his field is an inspiration to other farmers. He incorporates sustainable growing practices such as agro-forestry, compost mulching, inter-cropping, and crop rotation, among others. Over time, other local residents have joined the coffee project and today, hundreds of local residents are working together to make a good living for their families, reverse the degradation of Mount Gorongosa and restore the rain forest.