The Business Year

Roberto Mito Albino

MOZAMBIQUE - Agriculture

Valley of Promise

Director General, Zambezi Valley Development Agency

Bio

Roberto Mito Albino was born in 1966 in Maputo City. Roberto Albino holds a degree in Economics and Management from the Mozambican Eduardo Mondlane University in 1992. He speaks Ronga, Portuguese, and English. Prior to this current position, he served as the National Director of the Agribusiness Promotion Center, reporting to the Minister of Agriculture, from 2006 to 2011. He was sworn in as Director General of the Zambeze Valley Development Agency in April 2011.

"The valley accounts for 27% of national GDP, and about one-quarter of the population lives there."

To what extent does the Zambezi River Valley have the potential to be the food basket for Mozambique?

The valley accounts for 27% of national GDP, and about one-quarter of the population lives there. In terms of water, mobility, and agricultural potential, it is the country’s agricultural flagship and has a mission to grow. The main pillar of the valley is the Zambezi River and the resources along its banks. Currently, there are few commercial farming areas in the valley, but people are starting to do more, and the potential to grow is very apparent.

What are your key priorities as an agency?

Whether they are central government or provincial, to understand what our priorities are as we compile a focus on business, fisheries, the infrastructure of agricultural development, and how to support these areas. We consider the training of people and develop local entrepreneurship. Through the collaboration of the government and its ministries, we have prepared an investment plan for the next five years. Under that umbrella, we have also looked to development entities as potential partners. First, we drafted a roadmap to come up with a project called Agri-Fisheries Development Policy Operation (AFDPO). We submitted a project, appraised a budget, signed a contract, and established a project management unit. We agreed to set up seven policy areas where the government is already introducing reforms to increase development in agriculture and fisheries. As part of the agreement, our departments will receive three installments of $50 million from the World Bank. If everything goes well, we’ll see our first installment of $50 million in 2013, and the other two will come in 2014 and 2015.

“The valley accounts for 27% of national GDP, and about one-quarter of the population lives there.”

When the Zambezi Valley Development Agency receives its first installment from the World Bank in 2013, to what projects will funds be allocated?

We need to work on all the processes of creating a production base, such as irrigation schemes that will unlock places where more production is possible. A second goal is to work toward the supply side in terms of seed and fertilizer. We have other areas of activity that provide enough balance for people to buy inputs and equipment. The government has just approved the mechanization strategy, which entails the establishment of servicing centers where people can carry out entrepreneurship activities. The private sector needs support for these kinds of investment. For our fisheries, we are focused on investing in new agricultural sectors, the production of small fisheries, and the creation of infrastructure to foster this development. It is important to have the appropriate infrastructure and storage. Some of the funds will be used for the private sector to provide services and the public sector to do business—from when the fish are caught until they are sold on the market. Other funds fall into two categories: public expenditures such as power lines or services, and private sector goods such as capital or investments.

How are you combating challenges in obtaining land, accurate statistics, and data to allow investors to make informed decisions?

While true that it is not easy to secure land, it’s also true that we have to attract serious and appropriate investors. We have received many expressions of intent, but most of them are from consultants. I alone cannot do what is needed to ensure we secure proper investors. People discuss land because they know it is an asset and they try to secure as much as they need. On the desk of the Minister of Agriculture, there are no large projects still waiting for land. We did a survey of all the main provinces, complete with zoning exercises, which reinforces our plan and shows which land is available for what and for who. The agency is also clarifying the mechanism of assessing plans to make sure investments correlate with the land certain investors seek to secure. Suppose an investor wants to establish a sugar mill; we will ask what size and capacity, and then estimate the amount of sugar cane a producer will need. From there, we can recommend the required area and investment required.

© The Business Year – May 2013

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