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February 14, 2011

Agricultural development in Mozambique lags behind

Over the last 50 years Mozambique has not seen any significant progress in agriculture, according to researcher Rafael Uaiene, who was speaking at a seminar in Maputo on "The Challenges of Economic Growth and Employment."

In presenting his paper entitled "The State of Agriculture in Mozambique and Challenges" Uaiene argued that "in 50 years we have still not made a major transformation in this area," and linked low agricultural output with the high levels of poverty in rural areas.

In support of his argument Uaiene used a comparative table on productivity levels for maize in Mozambique and Malawi covering the period 1961 to 2007.

In 2007 Mozambique produced less than a tonne of maize per hectare, compared with neighbouring Malawi where the same area produced over 2.5 tonnes. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, productivity in most countries reaches levels above one tonne of maize per hectare.

According to Uaiene, who works for the Mozambican Agricultural Research Institute (IIAM), the level of productivity reached in neighbouring countries is due to the use of fertilisers, pesticides and animal traction.

He added that another important factor in the low productivity in Mozambican agriculture is the lack of use of improved seeds. Data from 2007 indicates that only ten per cent of Mozambican farmers used improved seeds for maize (in 2006 the figure was nine per cent, and in 2005 only six per cent).

Improved seeds for rice were used by only three per cent of farmers in 2007, against four per cent in 2006. For groundnuts the figures show that improved seeds were used by six per cent of farmers in 2007 compared with four per cent in 2006 and two per cent in 2005.

According to Uaiene, the challenges to development in the agricultural sector include the need to invest in research and improve agricultural services. Also needed is the expansion of access to water and credit.

He also stressed the need for better land use rights, improved infrastructure and the development of markets and agribusiness.

Mozambique has 36 million hectares of arable land, of which only five per cent is used, according to statistics from 2003. Only three per cent of arable land is irrigated.

Agriculture accounts for 24 per cent of Gross Domestic Production and 20 per cent of exports.

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