UNAC was established in 1987 to mobilize and organize people in rural areas to gain access to land. Since then, membership numbers have grown. Members are smallholders and farmers who only grow enough for their own consumption.
UNAC was one of the main players in the struggle for law regulating land rent in Mozambique. The organization encourages its member organizations to identify their local problems and are working to find solutions. They also work to influence government agricultural and land policy. UNAC links up with like-minded organizations and networks in other countries and participates and coordinates the work with the National Platform of Mozambique Civil Society, Poverty Observatories and the Land Forum. Internationally, UNAC is a member of Via Campesina and a partner in the network People's Dialogue.
Among UNAC guiding principles is democratic decision-making and membership organizations' independence. Their associations at district level represents, and are accountable to, associations and co-operatives of small farmers, while UNAC represents and is accountable towards associations at the regional level. Associations waiting to be formally approved have the status of commissions.
The role of associations and commissions is to mobilize and encourage farmers to organize themselves and to form associations, and then to offer organizational support. They inform members about legislation and agricultural policy, disseminate information, facilitate access to seeds, credit and markets and offer technical support. Their aim is that the farmers' challenges are taken seriously, and are representing their constituency in the local Consultative Council.
Because the rural areas are increasingly dominated by business development and investment opportunities, the associations are spending more and more time doing conflict prevention and finding resolutions to conflicts about land rights. Associations are spreading additional information to their members and society in general about the provisions on land ownership and collective rights in the Land Law.
To become a better watchdog against the negative effects that economic development has on their constituencies, UNAC have requested that Norwegian People's Aid supports organizational strengthening for five of their associations in the northern and central provinces. These are: União Provincial de Camponeses the Tete (UPCT), União das Cooperative e AssociaçõesAgrícolas the Lichinga (UCA), União Provincial de Camponeses de Cabo Delgado (UPCD), UniãoGeral das CooperativasAgrícolas the Nampula (UGCAN) and União Provincial de Camponeses the manica (UCAM).
Union of Cooperatives and Agricultural Associations of Lichinga-UCA was formally approved as Lichinga district association in 1991. UCA is especially renowned in the province for their abilities to inform, mobilize and defend the interests of their constituency. The province is sparsely populated and mostly covered by forests and fields that make it attractive for the development of agro-forestry.
Lake Niassa (Malawi), which borders the province, offers business opportunities in tourism, while the recent discovery of coal has attracted coal mining and extraction business. In the northern part of the Lake District gold has been found and illegal mining is going on. These activities pose a potential threat to the ecosystem and biodiversity in the province. Serious conflicts already exist between influential private investors and the local societies that have lost fertile agricultural land and access to water.
Provincial Union of Farmers in Tete - UPCT established its operations in 1994 and was formally approved in 2003. Private investment is increasing in the province. Spearheading this development is international tobacco manufacturers and major coal mining companies like Vale Brazil and Australian Riversdale. People who used to live in the concession areas are moved to other locations. 700 families were, for example, moved from Moatize to Cateme in 2009 to a dry area located 60 km from the city market and without any job opportunities. In 2010 UPCT, against all odds, got acceptance of their claim of compensation to some of those affected in Moatize. The beforementioned mining companies had to pay.
But not all claims and protests have been so successful. People that were moved to Cateme felt that their living conditions were deteriorating and the level of conflict escalated to violence and riots. Their case remains unresolved while enterprises in coal mining and other private investors continue to expand and destroy more potential agricultural land and people's livelihood in the process.
Provincial Union of Farmers in Cabo Delgado - UPCD was formally approved in 2007, but its history goes back to 2002. UPCD is well recognized for its role in building the farmers' movement. Since the Cabo Delgado Province is bordering the Niassa province, it is also partly covered by forest. The majority of the population are fishermen, smallholders, farmers that only produce enough for their own consumption, or operate dry and wetland agriculture. Development plans for business, such as accentuation of monocultures, is a potential risk for the ecosystem and people's access to land and livelihood.
General Union of Agricultural Cooperatives in Nampula - UGCAN was established in 1980 as a commission. The organization has a strong cohesion and political vision, but lack the capacity to formulate strategies and respond to the challenges they are faced with the private sector development plans. The voice of the organization often drowns and they have little influence when government, private developers, international organizations and NGOs meet.
Provincial Farmers Union of Manica- UCAMA was established in 1997. It has helped to strengthen the smallholders' negotiation power and defended their interests, especially with regard to the price for the products of small farmers along the Beira corridor. UCAM's immediate priorities include training in land laws and the rights of its members.
Rural Association for Mutual Aid - Oram was established in Maputo in 1992 as an organization engaged in the work for sustainable development in Mozambique. Since 1997, the focus was particularly access to land and formalization of small farmers' land rights. This is the organization that has the most experience with processes for land demarcation in the country and serves as a knowledge base for other organizations and institutions in the field.
Norwegian People's Aid has had a partnership with the Oram branch in Manica since 2005. Oram Manica has particularly worked with smallholders and land demarcation of the communities along the Beira corridor in Gondola district. Norwegian People's Aid's support has helped to increase the capacity of Oram Manica in disseminating information on agriculture, forestry and wildlife legislation, as well as land identification processes in rural communities. Oram has shown very high technical expertise on how to deal with issues related to land and natural resources in the country along with other civil society organizations.