Mozambique’s National Agricultural Mechanisation Programme (PNMA) will benefit 35,000 people through the Agricultural Service Centres (CSAs) spread across the country, according to Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco.
Speaking on Thursday at the opening session of the Second National Meeting on Agricultural Mechanisation, in the central city of Quelimane, Pacheco stressed that the vision of the CSAs is to provide excellence at all levels – in attending to the needs of producers, in making available services for preparing the land, for sowing, for harvesting and for transport and storage. The CSAs also sell inputs and provide technical assistance.
The CSAs are intended to bring these agricultural services closer to farmers. The meeting, held under the motto “Make Mechanisation a Factor that Stimulates Increased Production and Productivity”, will discuss strategies for greater participation of the private sector in running the CSAs.
“An estimated 35,000 producers are benefitting from this programme”, said Pacheco. “each CSA is working, on average, an area of 1,600 hectares and with a level of efficiency of at least 80 per cent”.
The government’s Agricultural Development Fund (FDA) has set up 73 CSAs, covering all provinces in the country. By the end of the year a further 18 will be installed, bringing the total to 91. Each CSA is equipped with four to six tractors, and with agricultural tools for ploughing, harrowing, fertilizing, sowing and harvesting.
This equipment forms part of the “More Food Programme”, valued at 97 million US dollars, covering a total of 513 tractors and more than 2,000 agricultural implements. The intention of the programme is to raise productivity and transform subsistence into commercial agriculture.
So far the equipment has been used to work on about 1,500 hectares, benefitting 1,800 producers with estimated production of 62,000 tonnes of crops.
Pacheco said that some CSAs had begun work with only part of the machinery they should have received. He thought it necessary to attract more partners to complete the chain of necessary services in the centres, and to improve urgently the operation of the equipment.
He added that initial implementation of the CSAs had been hampered by climatic adversities (notably the severe drought in southern and central Mozambique earlier this year). He stressed the need for efficient use and management of water, and to improve the early warning and risk management systems.
Pacheco pointed to the serious under-use of the country’s agricultural potential. The country has 36 million hectares of arable land, but only 1 per cent of this land is currently under cultivation. Of the arable land, 3.3 million hectares has the potential for irrigation, but only 14 per cent of this amount is being correctly exploited.
“The agro-ecological potential needs to be made good use of in order to drive the development of a competitive agriculture, and to put Mozambique on the map of the suppliers of foodstuffs to the international market”, the minister said.