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March 16, 2008

Mozambique faces grain deficit

Mozambique is facing a deficit of 1.25 million tonnes of grains this year, according to the coordinator of the National Agriculture Development Programme (PROAGRI), Fernando Songane.

Songane said despite the improvement in the maize harvest in recent years, Mozambique still faces a shortfall of about 500,000 tonnes. He said the country would need to import 400,000 tonnes of rice. Almost all of Mozambique's wheat is imported, and Songane put the shortfall at 350,000 tonnes over the year.

Songane stressed that Mozambique had very low agricultural productivity and warned that maize productivity, which is the lowest in Southern Africa, needed to quadruple if it was to satisfy the needs of consumers.

To achieve this, he said, the country needed to introduce new agricultural techn ologies, improved seeds, more widespread use of irrigation, better pest control, and an improved marketing system.

"We must improve our capacity to use water in agriculture so that we can produce all the year round", Songane said, adding "This is because there are some crops that can provide two or three harvests a year, but this is not happening because of a shortage of water."

He also stressed the need to improve the marketing system so that "farmers will feel motivated to produce more, knowing that their products will be sold."

Songane added that for the "Green Revolution" advocated by the government to be successful, it is essential that the foundations be laid "for us to have secure a nd sustainable production, which implies the use of better agricultural inputs, i ncluding improved seeds, and guaranteed water for irrigation."

In the 2007 harvest, Mozambican farmers produced 2,168,000 tonnes of grain, compared with 2,098,000 produced the previous year, which represented a growth of 3. 4 per cent.

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