The rapid development of Mozambique’s agricultural sector is set to become a game changer as the government moves to implement an agricultural development plan that could make the sector grow by up to 7% annually over the next 10 years. According to Mozambique’s minister of agriculture, Jose Condugua Antonio Pacheco, agriculture is evolving into one of the country's main sources of competitiveness.
“Agriculture should grow [by] 7% per year,” Mr Pacheco told fDi. “In 2011, growth in the [agricultural sector] was 9.4%. This was above the 7% target. Fifteen years ago, Mozambique was a food aid country. Now we are exporting non-traditional agricultural products such as maize and bananas. Agriculture [accounts for] 3.5% of our total exports, [but it has the] potential to have an even better contribution. In Mozambique, we have 56 million hectares of arable land, but we are only using 10% of it. So we are looking to improve this rate of productivity.”
According to Mozambique’s agricultural minister, the government’s 10-year agricultural strategic plan is set to transform the sector into one of the country’s key drivers of growth. “The implementation of [the government’s] programme will concentrate on six agricultural development corridors,” said Mr Pacheco. “The Nacala, Zambezi valley, Beira, Pemba Lichinga, Limpopo and Maputo corridors all display high agricultural potential. We are primarily looking for investments into food production. Additionally, the [government] will focus on food crops, fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry. We are also looking to strengthen our traditional export products, such as cashew nuts, cotton and tea, throughout these development corridors.”
Although Mozambique’s emergence as one of the world’s fastest growing economies has been primarily due to its mining and natural gas industries, agriculture is playing an increasingly significant role in transforming the country’s investment landscape. “Mozambique has had a successful history of social and economic development since 1992, when peace and stability enabled our economy to grow at an average rate of 7%,” said Mr Pacheco. “Over the past three to four years, we discovered new mineral resources, and since September 2011, we started exporting coal. However, no one can drink gas or eat coal. So at the end of the day, agriculture remains one of Mozambique’s key sectors. In fact, agriculture contributes to 23% of our GDP.”
Agricultural transformation has been highlighted by the country’s government as a priority. Keen to attract investments into this sector, Mozambique’s investment promotion agency has been tasked with offering investors a range of incentives.
“Mozambique’s investment promotion centre is dedicated to attracting investments and assisting investors to invest in Mozambique’s agricultural sector,” said Mr Pacheco. “The land of Mozambique is a property of the state and access to land is on a leasing basis of up to 50 years. Yet when the investment is done and the government leases the land to investors, it is theirs for 50 years. As a foreign investor, there are no limits in Mozambique on the repatriation of capital. There are no limitations on the imports and exports of capital. Agriculture is definitely one of Mozambique’s competitive advantages as [the country] has a variety of agro-ecological conditions, and we have 35 permanent rivers, so you can grow almost anything here.”