ROBERTO ALBINO

Mozambique 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

AdZ's initiatives particularly target small farmers in order to promote economic and social inclusion in the Zambezi River Valley.

What are the best opportunities for economic development in the province where AdZ has its mandate?
AdZ is responsible for the rapid development zone in the central region of Mozambique—the Zambezi River Valley. The region accounts for 27% of national GDP and about 25% of Mozambique's national population. This region is a huge area, and its main asset is its natural resources. Rice is one of the main crops we produce for local needs and export. In addition, poultry, livestock, and a wide range of seeds can all be produced in huge quantities in the region. AdZ is working to ensure all these crops are produced and distributed locally and abroad. Zambezi River Valley is also where we have a reputation for producing energy. Plus, we have another five big energy projects. The Zambezi River Valley is the country's best region for energy production. Another of the region's main opportunities is tourism. In terms of natural resources, we also have iron deposits in the province. These are not yet under exploration, but all the preparation work has been done by a UK investor.

Would you tell us about one or two key projects happening now?
AdZ's mandate is to promote the Zambezi River Valley itself and also to assist technically and financially with investment projects here. The main sector we have been engaged in so far is agriculture, where we support local producers to ensure they can enhance their capacity to explore the investment potential that exists here. We are heavily focused on rice production. Our main emphasis is first to make the region self-sufficient and then to supply other regions of the country and perhaps later to export rice. For this, we have been investing heavily in research and improving productivity by providing tractors, harvesting equipment, and supporting the industrial sector with manufacturing equipment to ensure we can also produce processed rice locally. This is one of our big goals in terms of agriculture. The second one is in horticulture. We are supporting local horticultural producers with irrigation schemes, improving seed yields, and aggregating the value of what we produce and supply to our main markets. AdZ's main outreach is smaller farmers to engage them in production and linking them to markets.

What are AdZ's plans to increase agribusiness, and to what extent is the agency involved in supporting rural energy and financial inclusion in your region?
Our approach is always to target the small farmers, as this is how we can promote economic and social inclusion of people in this region. We are engaged with more than 50,000 growers through our programs in different production chains. We provide them with services such as access to mechanization, markets, and technology. We are promoting growth for farmers in their particular areas of production, for example by improving their yields and helping them to get more income out of their crops. We are doing studies into facilitating energy access. In some cases where we cannot provide conventional powerlines, we are providing solar energy. In Tete, we have a flagship irrigation project of more than 1,500ha of production using 100% solar energy. We are busy promoting solar power as an energy source for our small-hold farmers. In terms of access to finance, over the past three or four years we have been able to bring the state-owned National Investment Bank (BNI), which is headquartered in Maputo, to the region. Because we need BNI here, we have supported the bank in establishing a branch and operations in Zambezi River Valley. Today, the local BNI branch is fully operational providing access to finance through our projects in the region. We have also been engaging with the African Development Bank to operate a specific line of credit for rice production. These two development banks are our main intermediaries in terms of providing access to finance for our growers, industries, and traders.