Speaking to AIM on Friday in the central city of Chimoio, Vala said “the 2010.2011 agricultural campaign was good. In terms of food crops, we managed to produce about 14.2 million tonnes of produce, notably cassava, maize, rice, pulses and some crops that we regard as emerging, such as soya and sesame”.
Each of the crops mentioned showed an increase in production when compared with the previous year – the rise in production of maize, for example, was 6.3 per cent, and the country is now more than self-sufficient in cassava, with an annual production in excess of six million tonnes.
For the Mozambican authorities, the rise in food production is due to the commitment of Mozambican farmers, and to regular rainfall over the past year, even in the south of the country, which is the area of Mozambique most prone to drought.
Vala pointed out that there are still districts that are a cause for concern. This is the case, in the south, of Chigubo (in Gaza province), and of Govuro and Mabote (in Inhambane), and in the centre, of Chemba (in Sofala). These are naturally arid areas, with poor soils, where agricultural production is always difficult, even when it rains.
One solution is to stop growing maize in land where yields will always be low. “The government is doing all that it can to change the situation”, said Vala. “For example, in Chemba, where for many years the maize harvest has been poor, we are introducing short cycle sorghum, and the results have been good”.
He added that the greatest challenge is to change the attitude of peasant farmers, so that they will grow crops not only to support their own families, but in order to earn money by selling a surplus.
“This means increasing productivity so that these producers are exposed to the market, where they can earn cash and solve all the other needs of their day-to-day lives, such as health care and education”, said Vala.
This challenge will be key for the 2011-2012 agricultural campaign which President Armando Guebuza is scheduled to launch officially on Sunday.Post published in: Africa News