Conferência Internacional Sobre Agricultura e Desenvolvimiento Sustentável (CIADS)

Masa Funabashi presented at the plenary lecture of the Conferência Internacional Sobre Agricultura e Desenvolvimiento Sustentável (CIADS) held at the Lurio University in Mozambique.


From Japanese original experiences to African contexts:

two projects for sustainable agriculture and society

Masatoshi FUNABASHI*, Makoto GODA** and Shun SATO**

* Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., Tokyo, Japan

**Nippon Biodiesel Fuel Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan / Agro-Negocio para o Desenvolvimento de Mocambique Lda., Maputo, Mozambique

Keywords: Synecoculture, Virtual Farmers Market

0. Introduction

    In this presentation, two ongoing projects are introduced by their Japanese implementers. One is Synecoculture project and the other is Virtual Farmers’ Market (VFM) project. The former is mainly related to cultivation phase and the latter is related to distribution phase. Although these two projects are originally independent, both of two aims to sustainable agriculture and society.

1. The challenge and achievement of Synecoculture (by FUNABASHI)

    In this talk, I will present the concept, challenge, and achievement of Synecoculture project that has been developed to overcome global agenda such as food security for growing population and associated massive biodiversity loss, which is difficult to resolve with conventional monoculture-intensive methods of agriculture.

    Based on the field experiments in Japan and sub-Saharan Africa, we derive important factors that should be included in the new food safety strategy for increased human and ecosystem health, especially for African countries that are facing drastic climate and demographic changes.

    Links between scientific facts, essential supportive technologies, and political challenges will be addressed from the viewpoint that advocates the conversion to sustainable society during the next few decades, critically before the middle of this century.

To better understand this presentation, please consult the following articles for the basic knowledge of Synecoculture:

– The manuals on Synecoculture:

– Perspective paper from Nature Research:

– Proceedings of the past African Forums on Synecoculture:

– Synecoculture project website:

– Other publications:

2. Virtual Farmers’ Market and Virtual Farmers’ Association (by SATO)


    The main objectives of this presentation are to clarify the concept and history of Virtual Farmers’ Market (VFM) which is currently promoted by UN World Food Program (WFP) and to discuss the future possibilities of VFM in the broader context of sustainable development and cooperatives.


    The study is conducted with two approaches: 1) Basic survey – mainly on the internet resources; 2) Action research – the authors of this study are private company managers in Japan and Mozambique, so that their ongoing VFM project are described by themselves.

[Results and Discussion]

    VFM is “an app-based e-commerce platform where farmers’ surplus and buyers’ demand for crops are advertised and traded” (WFP 2018). VFM is aimed to enhance the livelihood of Small Holder Farmers (SHF) via market access and fair prices. WFP launched the first pilot project in Zambia in 2016 and smartphone application for Android OS was developed and named MAANO.

    Meanwhile, NBF/ADM, which is a private company in Japan/Mozambique, is starting VFM project which is firstly launched in Nampula province. NBF/ADM has a vision of connecting VFM to VFA (Virtual Farmers’ Association) and NCF (New Credit for Farmers), which is based on Japanese history and experience of agricultural cooperatives from NINOMIYA Sontoku (1787-1856), OHARA Yugaku (1797-1858), to JA (1972-) and the previous works using ICT in some nonelectrified rural areas in Mozambique (GODA 2019).


    This year, UN decade of family farming started because it offers unique opportunities for sustainable development in economic, social and ecological aspects. VFM, VFA and NCF are expected to be able to empower these movement in the digital age.


  1. GODA Makoto (2019) System reforms for improving agriculture: A Vision for Digitalizing African Agricultural Infrastructure Based on Farmer Unionization. Diplomacy. No.53.
  2. WFP (2018). Maano – Virtual Farmers Market.