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    13 September, 2010
$25 million credit line for agriculture
Maputo 13 Sept (AIM) - An agricultural credit line worth $25 million will be launched this month by the Mozambican government to boost agricultural production during the 2010/2011 campaign, as part of an integrated plan of action for food production.

According to Agriculture Minister Soares Nhaca, the credit will be managed by Standard Bank, with guarantees from the Mozambican government and support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Nhaca also announced that a further 120 million meticais ($3.3 million) will be invested to fund a program to revive the private farming sector, plus 30 million meticais specifically earmarked for the poultry industry.

Nhaca said that the Government is aware that access to credit is crucial for achieving the goals of the Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA) and that the commercial banks charge high interest rates. The government has thus decided to open several lines of credit at preferential interest rates to allow agricultural producers to borrow money.

"In the coming days we will evaluate this agricultural campaign and announce the availability of these lines and also indicate the conditions under which producers can have access to the money made available," said the Minister.

During the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 agricultural campaign the state provided a line of credit of about $7 million for producers in the southern region of Mozambique, and a further 75 million meticais in a credit line for rice farmers.

"The Land Bank (Banco Terra) cannot solve agricultural problems alone, that is why we will create new credit institutions across the country to finance agriculture", continued Nhaca. "What I have presented are just a few lines of an overall package being prepared to stimulate food production."

As for agricultural marketing, Nhaca said that this year 60 of the country's 128 districts have agricultural surpluses and therefore a functional mechanisms is required to absorb the surplus once the local demand has been met.

55 districts suffered the effects of droughts or floods, leading to a deficit in some food crops. Only 13 of these 55 districts are considered to enjoy food security.

"We are building silos with capacity to store about 89,000 tonnes in various parts of the country", said Nhaca. "One of the major challenges we are facing has to do with access roads, since often, in areas with large surpluses, the roads are in a poor conditions, and here the private traders are reluctant to intervene".

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