Rice production in the current agrarian campaign is set to grow by 15% as a result of investment made under the Sustenta program, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Celso Correia says.
Witnessing the formal start of the rice harvest in the Chongoene district of Gaza province on Thursday, Correia notes that rice consumption in Mozambique was growing by around 8.5% a year, a large part of that imported to a cost of at least US$200 million US dollars per annum.
“Unfortunately, there is evidence that this is one of the crops used to extract foreign currency from the country at overvalued prices, creating some degree of dependency at national level in public accounts,” he said.
Correia observed that rice cultivation involves more than 100,000 producers in its value chain, mainly in Gaza, Zambézia and Sofala provinces, and is strategic for the agricultural development in the country.
“Rice has become, in some ways, the second most important crop in Mozambique, after corn,” the minister said.
In this context, investment had been made in levelling land, assisting production, and improving access to quality seed, agrochemicals and other inputs in order to improve productivity, alongside the rehabilitation of infrastructure in irrigated areas [regadios] including the clearing of channels and requalification of roads.
Celso Correia pointed out with satisfaction that, in just six months, Chongoene had seen average productivity rise to six tons per hectare, against the national average of just one ton.
In Gaza province, the minister explained, the area under cultivation had increased by about 5,000 hectares, a factor sustaining growth.
Celso Correia indicated that the results registered in Gaza in terms of productivity per hectare, and given market guarantee, had generated 7,500 secure jobs.