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    17 September, 2010
Agricultural production under discussion
Maputo, 17 Sept (AIM) - Prime Minister Aires Ali on Thursday urged all stakeholders in the country's agriculture to put forward daring and creative proposals to reduce the problems that still prevent farmers from achieving the desired results.

Ali was opening a National Seminar in Maputo held to discuss the balance sheet of the 2009-10 agricultural campaign, and to prepare the 2010-11 campaign

The Prime Minister called for "more vigorous action and fewer speeches", noting that, in addition to their own technical knowledge, the actors on the Mozambican agricultural stage can draw on countless experiences of success from other countries, in southern Africa and elsewhere on the planet.

The government's five year programme for 2010-14, Ali recalled, recognises agriculture as one of the key sectors for the development of the country, given its high potential for poverty reduction.

The major challenge, he said, "is that of guaranteeing food security for everybody, at all times". That meant ensuring that food is available "in quantity and quality to ensure the maintenance of active and healthy lives throughout the country".

In pursuing this objective, "we must continue to ensure increased income and profitability for the producers, and attempt to transform subsistence agriculture into an agriculture that is increasingly oriented towards the market".

The major constraint on developing Mozambican agricultural production was low productivity, "thus the challenge before us is that we need to build consensus over what are the best technological options that should be taken so that agricultural productivity can increase sustainably".

Agriculture must also be considered from the viewpoint of the value chain, stressed Ali - which meant taking into account not only production, but also marketing, storage, and agro-processing.

Ministry of Agriculture statistics presented at the meeting showed that grain production has risen from 2.3 million tonnes in the 2008 harvest to 2.8 million tonnes in 2010 - an increase of 22 per cent in two years.

Most of this increase is due to larger maize harvests. Maize production over the period rose from 1.67 million to 2.1 million tonnes. There was a slight increase in sorghum production, from 366,000 to 389,000 tonnes, and a similar percentage rise for millet - from 46,000 to 49,000 tonnes.

The government's drive to increase wheat production has begun to pay off. Only 7,000 tonnes of wheat was grown in 2008, but this figure more than tripled, to 22,000 tonnes this year (although there have been unexpected difficulties in selling this production).

The major disappointment was with rice. Production rose from 206,000 tonnes in 2008 to 260,000 tonnes in 2009, but then slipped back to 258,000 tonnes in 2010.

The key food crop in much of rural Mozambique is cassava, and here the figures show a steady rise from 8.5 million tonnes in 2008 to 9.7 million in 2010.
As for other important crops, production of beans rose from 240,000 tonnes in 2008 to 264,000 tonnes in 2010, while in the same period the rise in groundnut production was from 144,000 to 158,000 tonnes.

The prospects for 2011, the Ministry forecasts, are for a rise in grain production to 2.9 million tonnes, and of cassava production to 10.7 million tonnes.

Maize remains the only grain where Mozambique produces a surplus that can be exported. Maize consumption this year is estimated at slightly more than 1.9 million tonnes, which leaves a surplus of 171,000 tonnes.

 There are still large deficits in both rice and wheat - 238,000 and 405,000 tonnes respectively.
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