By TBY | Mozambique | May 27, 2014
Mozambican agriculture can be classified into three principal regions; the South, with Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane; the Center, with Beira in Sofala province, the mouth of the Zambezi river in Zambezia, and the mining province of Tete; and the North, with Niassa, Cabo Delgado, and Nampula, home to part of the Nacala corridor. The country’s approximately 800,000 square kilometer area encompasses its mountainous western region, high plateaus in the northwest, and coastal lowlands. A total of 35 rivers flow through Mozambican territory, and the region surrounding the Zambezi River is notably fertile. Much of the country is forested, and the UN estimates that approximately 50% of land is covered by some form of woodland. This diversity of terrain allows for the production of a varied assortment of crops and agricultural produce.
The bulk of the sector is related to cereal crops such as millet, rice, wheat, and maize; cassava, a major staple, and derivatives including beer and chips; nuts and seeds including the widely-exported cashew nut; variousvegetables and fruits; and high-value export produce such as tea, coffee, sugar, and tobacco. Key markets for Mozambican products are Zimbabwe, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, and India. However, imports still account for the highest share of domestic consumption in many agricultural sub-sectors, despite producers receiving international aid, and the Mozambican government is working with a number of foreign partners to advance beyond the constraints of a previously underdeveloped sector.
The country’s 2,700 kilometers coastline and access to Lake Malawi and Lake Cahora Bassa makes it an ideal country for fishing. A 2007 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN estimates that up to 90,000 people are employed in this segment. The total value of industrial and semi-industrial fishing in 2012 was $66.5 million, with crustaceans accounting for approximately half of this value. Deep-water shrimp, prawns, and fish make up the bulk of output. The country’s two major lakes are known for their developing aquaculture industries, which are based around prawns and other crustaceans. The farming of the white prawn and black tiger prawn is primarily intended for export, this work is carried out in Beira, Quelimane, Pemba, and other coastal regions. Though the segment experienced an unfortunate slowdown following the outbreak of white spot syndrome in 2011, it has largely overcome this challenge.
Mozambique’s export basket has generally experienced increased growth in recent years. Unprocessed tobacco, centrifugal sugar, cashew nuts, cotton lint, and sesame seeds are primary exports. However, a broader fall in world cotton prices over 2012 and 2013 has led to a sharp reduction in production in Cabo Delgado. Plexus, the country’s leading cotton producer, works with 70,000 farmers across the country, but was forced to postpone its own cotton production in 2012 due to this negative trend. Though Mozambique is not a major exporter of cotton in global terms, it is an important crop for 300,000 small-scale farming families, with two-thirds of them relying on it as their main, and sometimes only, cash crop. Overall countrywide production dropped from 170,000 480 lb bales in 2011 to 125,000 in 2013. In contrast, centrifugal sugar production and exports are on the rise. In 2011, 200,000 metric tons (MT) were exported, although the figure jumped to 253,000 MT in 2013, and is on an upward trend in 1Q2014. Unmanufactured tobacco, while not as large an export in volume terms, contributes the largest amount in terms of value, with approximately $217 million worth of the crop exported in 2011.
LIVE FOR CERRADO
The national Agriculture Promotion Center (CEPAGRI) has, in collaboration with Monitor Deloitte, identified key areas for investment. “We have 12 strategic crops, including rice, which is a key staple,” explains Abdul Cesar Mussuale, Director of the center. “We have the potential to produce all of our own rice, but right now we import 60% of our consumption.” This situation highlights the fundamental challenges to the sector: insufficient expertise, technology, and funding to utilize Mozambican assets to full effect.
Tropical technology from Brazil is being brought to the central and northern Nacala corridor following a government initiative to encourage investment by international firms. In 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture offered vast tracts of land to farmers in the hope that the success of the Brazilian cerrado agricultural revolution could be repeated. The concession was offered for a potentially renewable 50-year period, and the four northern savannah provinces were selected due to their similarities with the interior regions in Brazil. The program has the benefit of low-cost and fast-tracked leasing arrangements for investing farmers, and the long-term effects of newly fertile fields and innovative weather forecasting and crop storage technologies are clear for Mozambique. In addition, major investment in the same region has come from Japan.
CASHEW TALKIN’ TO ME?
ProSavana is an organization founded to manage the increased production and efficiency in the Nacala corridor over a total area of 14.5 million hectares. The region is notably rural, with 80% of the 4.5 million population dotted across the countryside. A special focus will be placed on cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and cashews. The organization’s primary mission is to modernize production while encouraging crop diversification, and to create employment for the inhabitants of the region.
EAR TO THE GROUND
Other projects are being carried out throughout the country with similar objectives. In April 2013 the Board of Executives of the World Bank authorized International Development Association (IDA) credits worth $150 million for the country’s agricultural sector. However, Mozambique has long been receiving international assistance in this field, with the World Bank’s 15-year Agricultural Sector Public Expenditure Program (PROAGRI) having fostered reform in areas such as human resource management and capacity building, as well as research into improved public services and the efficient use of supplies.
The IDA contributed a total of $30 million to the $216.5 million project cost, which has resulted in a number of significant successes, creating a solid base for the sector’s current expansion. In total, 191,630 producers received help from 1999 to 2006, while broader institutional reforms improved land tenure regulations, consolidated research institutions under the aegis of a national agriculture research institute, and rearranged the Ministry of Agriculture by enhancing human resource and budgeting requirements.
These systems of support have been welcomed by the ministry and the government alike, and have led to an effective strategy for the sector as a whole. “The implementation of this strategic plan respects production in Mozambique, the existing infrastructure, and the market opportunities that arise both within the country and abroad,” enthused José Pacheco, Mozambique’s Minister of Agriculture. “We have six producers: Maputo and Limpopo Valley in the south, the Beira Corridor and Zambeze Valley in central Mozambique, and the Nacala and Pemba corridors in the north of the country.” Agriculture has been prioritized in the fight against poverty, and one of the primary goals of rural development is to create more income-generating possibilities, according to the Ministry’s Extension Master Plan for 2007—2016. With a focus on a sustainable, diversified, and integrated model for rural communities, the Ministry is constantly reevaluating its strategies. However, with the integration of overseas technologies and investment from the private sector and NGOs, the contribution that agriculture can make to the nation’s future is growing every day.
The New Era: A Roundtable Discussion on Defining the Future of Saudi Arabia
The Angolan Development Roundtable
Panama Sustainability Forum
You may also be interested in...
Victaulic Vortex™, an environmentally friendly fire protection solution for data centers and beyond