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July 17, 2009

Mozambique rice production increases

by Sam Banda Junior

Mozambique's rice production has risen from 190,000 tonnes in 2008 to 260,000 tonnes this year.

Mozambique is aiming at producing about 400,000 tonnes a year. Its government wants to become self-sufficient in rice within three years and cut its imports of the crop by 2011.

Last year provincial director for agriculture of the Mozambican province of Momed Vala was quoted as saying that rice production this harvesting season would rise to a total of 200,000 tonnes.

Mozambique, one of the poorest nations in Africa depends on agriculture for its economy and the increase in rice production was signifcant. The country’s Agriculture Minister Soares Nhaca said rice production had grown due to the use of improved seed and machinery support to farmers.

A Reuters report quoted Nhaca as saying that Mozambique was investing heavily in the purchase of quality seeds, agriculture machinery and incentives to farmers in regions regarded as potentially productive, particularly in central parts of the country.

Mozambique’s rise in rice output comes barely a few days after United States Agency for International Development also launched a $ 20 million agro-business project aimed at improving the agriculture sector.

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recently also sought the support of Japan and other rice producing countries to achieve a goal of doubling rice output in Africa by 2018. He said sustainable production of rice would help ease hunger and poverty in the continent.

Many African countries have mainly relied on Maize for food but rice is said to be another supporting crop.

Nigeria, Egypt and Madagascar are among the leading rice farming nations in Africa whereas China and India are the World’s top producers.

In another development government officials in Mozambique have said its economy is on target for growth this year despite feeling the effects of the international financial crisis.

Government spokesman Luis Covane was quoted by AFP Thursday AS saying that the southern African country's GDP grew by 7 percent in the first six months of 2009.

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