Waste to food : How to fight against poverty

Waste to food : How to fight against poverty : Use of compost from recycled waste to feed the population using permaculture

Beira, MozambiqueBeira, Mozambique
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Terra Nova produces compost from urban waste, reducing groundwater pollution and carbon emissions in Mozambique while employing with dignity the poorest. Use of compost and agriculture of conservation that we promote will improve general nutrition and life conditions of the small farmers.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if organic production and recycling waste would be the solution to eradicate poverty ?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Poor farmers immigrate every day to Beira, fast growing city of 600.000 citizens, increasing unemployement of non qualified poor persons, waste production, pollution and release of greenhouse gases. Local food availability (quantity and quality of vegetables) decreases as peri-urban soils are degraded. Low crop yields and non adapted /conservative agriculture techniques maintain farmers in poverty and do not allow them to live in dignity.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our compost, that increases crop yield from 15% to 100%, decreases pests and rehabilitates agricultural degraded soils. Joint with new permaculture technique tested and promoted by ourselves this will be a long term improvement of soils’ fertility and revenues / life conditions of thousands of poor farmers. Until 2019 we aim to recycle 50 % of the total waste of Beira (2nd city of Mozambique). That will self-sustain our activity and more than 80 employees mostly former waste scavengers and desocialized people. Use of compost, will provide more variety of vegetables of good quality on local market, improving general nutrition. By the way, we are also testing a solution to treat latrinas fecal sludge into compost.


SEED AWard ( 2015) - Eco-Friendly PME distinction of Mozambique (2015) - Finalist of inclusive Award of 100 best SMEs of Mozambique (2015-14-13) - Semi finalist of Nutrient for all (2013) - Iniciativas Negocios Verdes (2°) (2011)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Ernesto, a small farmer of Beira just used 75 kg of our compost made from waste . He sold his salads a week earlier than those fertilized with both cow manure and chemical fertilizers and increased its price by 23% = $ 30 (1/4 of the minimum wage). He was glad that his customers had chosen to prioritize its larger and more numerous green salads, produced from compost and expects to make an additional harvest this year. He will soon be pleasantly surprised to see that all future crops will give him better results without the need to add any fertilizer!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We intend to sell 5500 tons of compost made from waste in 2019 and promote permaculture to improve long term peri-urban soil fertility. This will increase nutition by improving quality and variety of vegetables on local market. 1000 little farmers will thus increase their income and be encouraged to cultivate bigger areas to improve even more their life conditions. Recycling 20000 tons of waste will decrease half of the waste entering in the open air dump and pollution risks linked to it, reducing also methane gas emissions and employing around 50 de-socialized persons. We employed in 2011 over 30 persons including 20 unskilled almost all aged under 25 and 9 women. Terra Nova helped its employees to be reintegrated in society: to construct or rehabilitated their homes and to return to school in evening classes... We aim to have more than 70 employees until 2018.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

A tractor will help improve our efficiency and decrease operationnal cost, allowing to increase recycling capacity, employement for the poorest and to begin to recycle other type of waste. Subsidied sales will help improve purchase power of the farmers and their capacity to repurchase the compost at it's real price while improving their life conditions. With the help of a new training center in urban organic farming that we will open, we want to introduce and develop use of permaculture techniques that are far more sustainable than conventional farming. This concept will be then replicated.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

A partnership with municipality or other organisations will decrease our costs to manage to subsidy our compost during 1 to 3 years until the sales to the farmers sustain activity. Obtaining additional social financing /grant will allow us to increase our production capacity to achieve internal rate of return more quickly and develop new social activities. Permaculture training center will be launched with grants then paid by trainees fees.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Main difference with other international recycling projects is that we focus on compost quality and conservation agiculture, marketing so that large scale use makes possible to sustainably improve soil fertility, increase farmers’ revenue and availability of fresh vegetables on local market. There is no other project producing natural fertilizer, or recycling organic waste in Mozambique, neither supporting small farmers of Beira’s city however very dynamic in terms of waste management. So we established a strong partnership with municipality that gives us the exclusivity of the waste.

Founding Story

French business/project manager I built a truly sustainable local development project with positive impact on environment, society and generating profits. I worked on this concept because I was shocked by failing waste management system and inhuman farmer’s and waste scavengers' conditions. My formation in agriculture, a strong environmental ethic and an 8-year experience in Africa encouraged me to develop a local solution for recycling waste which would also enhance sustainable agricultural development. Determinated to change social situation of the poorest in the long run, I have used an integrative management method valuating each other's strengths and works, whatever their levels were.


Gildo Chungano Ussene is the field manager. From the neighborhood of the dump site, he was already very active to change life conditions of the poorest of the city. He naturally joined the project at its beginning ! First working as an operator, he became our first sales promotor, then was responsible of marketing/agriculture development and recently was also in charge of recycling operations. He is the soul of this project ! The rest of team (operators) are mainly unqualified persons that often suffered from de-socialization, some having been waste scavengers, some formerly thiefs, homeless, and/or that had alcoholic problems...
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Contacted by changemakers team + Changemakers website

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder and manager

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Since 2008, I visited several recycling projects in Madagascar, Uganda, Kenya, Netherland and France that also improved my carbon credit process knowledge. I also attended Pollutec feir in Moroco in October 2015 and SEED Symposium in Kenya in September 2015 that gave me opportunity to develop new contacts for futher recycling initiatives. A running collaboration with the CNFA allows us to benefit from experience of American agriculture specialists when needed.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Since the beginning, the maior of Beira is working closely with Terra Nova to help reach our social and environmental objectives.
We work since 2010 with the BidNetwork mentors, but also with VC4A and IBA platforms and recently with the SEED team to reinforce the business plan and strategy. Since 2 years, the 1%Club and BAGC (Beira Agriculture Corridor Growth) supported our actions mainly linked to farming developement. We work in cooperation with the FUSP (Frisian Urban Sanitation Program from Netherland Cooperation ) to develop pilot fase of latrinas fecal sludge treatment and also joined recently the VIA Water platform. We are now setting up a new collaboration with accredited agricultural training center to develop the first urban and organic farming training center based ou our experience.