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Mozambican Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco on Friday reaffirmed the government’s commitment to seeking solutions for raising agricultural production in order to empower Mozambique as an exporter of agricultural produce.
Speaking at a meeting with agricultural producers in Marracuene district, about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where he was attending a meeting of the Coordinating Council of his Ministry, Pacheco said that agricultural exports from this region have already started with bananas and paw-paws.
He explained that the government is working through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to formalise the export of Mozambican maize to Malawi. These exports are currently on an entirely informal basis, making it difficult to know exactly how much Mozambican grain is sold to Malawi.
Pacheco added that Rwanda has expressed an interest in buying maize and sugar from Mozambique. He stressed the need to increase production in order to take advantage of such markets.
The Minister also pointed to Mozambique’s own rising population which has increased from around 23 million in 2007 to 27 million now. “These people need to be fed with good quality products in sufficient amounts”, he said. “Planning on our part will have a major impact, taking into account the value chain”.
Pacheco warned his audience of the existence of outside interests which wanted to extract Mozambican wealth at low prices. “We have to be on the alert”, he urged.
“We have to produce more and better, on the basis of an agriculture aimed at the market, so that we can escape from our dependence. Otherwise we shall be condemned by future generations”, he said.
Farmers at the meeting asked the government to build new irrigation schemes and rehabilitate existing ones. They also wanted the authorities to facilitate access to markets and to bank credit for farmers, to provide a new depot for fresh produce, to regularise spaces for production in the Maputo green belt and to make good quality seeds and more greenhouses available.
Commenting on some of the questions raised, Pacheco said that expanding irrigation is a challenge given the scarcity of water, and hence the need to use water sparingly.Source: AIM