Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday launched in the city of Cuamba, in the northern province of Niassa, the Special Agro-Processing Zone of the Pemba-Lichinga Integrated Development Corridor (ZEPA), which is intended to revolutionise agriculture in northern Mozambique.
Budgeted at 47 million US dollars, 43 million of which have been granted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the objective of the project is to increase agricultural production and productivity, and to encourage the development of agro-business in the provinces of Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Zambézia and Nampula.
Among the crops chosen for the construction of value chains, there stand out soya, sesame, macadamia nuts, potatoes, wheat, maize and cotton.
Speaking at the launch event, Nyusi said that the result of this year’s agricultural marketing campaign is estimated at 16.4 million tonnes. The northern region contributes 58 per cent of this.
Through ZEPA, he said, it was hoped to increase the aggregate yield of crops by 60 per cent. Technical assistance will be provided to around 200 groups of producers. ZEPA should provide 100,000 jobs directly and 30,000 indirectly. 50 per cent of these jobs will be filled by women.
The project, Nyusi continued, will also “empower professionally households and 500 micro, small and medium agro-business companies.
ZEPA is not the solution to all the problems and needs of rural producers, he said, but, taken together with other actions, it represents a good response to the problem of regional imbalances and will help reduce migration from the countryside to the cities
Nyusi also saw ZEPA as an opportunity to internationalise the productive capacity of the provinces covered by the project which could result in the penetration by and acceptance of Mozambican products in some regional and international markets.
“The great challenge is to promote the development of the rural areas where the majority of Mozambicans live, working on family agriculture”, said the President. “This programme seeks to reduce food imports and take farmers out of the cycle of subsistence and into competitive agro-industry, through infrastructures, marketing and training.
Nyusi warned that the available resources must be used transparently. “Nothing must be wasted on unnecessary conferences or travel”, he said.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina told the ceremony “this is a project that will bring hope, a project that will create jobs, a project that will transform the rural economies of Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces”.