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Folha de Maputo (File) / Filipe Nyusi.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Friday declared that a key government target for the 2015-16 agricultural year is to produce 2.9 million tonnes of grain.
Speaking in the locality of Bendeze, in the northern province of Niassa, about 70 kilometres from the provincial capital, Lichinga, at an official ceremony launching the agricultural campaign, Nyusi said that the target for maize production is 2.1 million tonnes. If achieved, that would be a 17 per cent increase on the 1.8 million tonnes of maize harvested from the 2014-15 campaign.
As for rice, the government is projecting an increase of 12 per cent, from 357,000 to 400,000 tonnes. This would significantly cut Mozambique’s bill for imported rice.
“We should all be clear about what we are going to produce, how we shall produce it, when to produce and what amounts to produce”, Nyusi said. “We must also know in advance where we are going to market our produce”.
He called for greater involvement of all Mozambicans in the agricultural campaign, in order to guarantee food security. The major challenges he said were to modernize smallholder farmers and increase the amount of land under cultivation throughout the country.
All Mozambicans, Nyusi said, should motivate, encourage and empower the nation’s farmers, including those who have recently graduated from the country’s agricultural schools and institutes.
At the Bendeze rally, the President recognized that the desired increase in agricultural production needs greater national and foreign investment, which will also help increase the volume of exports of agricultural produce.
Nyusi wanted to change the current situation in which agriculture is overwhelmingly a subsistence rather than a commercial activity. He noted that Mozambique possesses about 35 million hectares of arable land, but only 15 per cent of this land is being used.
He promised that the authorities will continue to use extensionists to promote mechanized agriculture and the diversification of crops, as part of the efforts to combat hunger. The government, he added, is also committed to expanding the infrastructures that support agricultural activity, such as roads, bridges, electricity transmission lines and grain silos.
“Our country has excellent conditions to produce all kinds of crops”, he said. Yet factors such as limited access to credit, to markets and to technical assistance meant that levels of agricultural productivity were still low.
This scenario should be changed, he added, with the intensive use of improved seeds, pesticides, fertilisers and extension services.Source: AIM