The European Commission and the government of Mozambique have entered into an agreement for the funding of agricultural research in the African state. Under the agreement, the EC is apportioning EUR 4.3 million for research on crops including cotton, potato, cassava and cashew. Glauco Clauzuola, the head of the EC delegation in Mozambique, and the Mozambican Minister of Agriculture, Erasmo Muhate, signed the pact on 2 June.
Despite the significant role that agriculture – and crops in particular – could play for Mozambicans, reports indicate that Mozambique has more than 80 % of arable land that remains uncultivated. Experts have said that Mozambique has great agricultural potential. The country boasts a wide range of soil types and the varied climatic conditions prove beneficial for many different crops.
|Exports of cashews can reduce
the trade deficit of Mozambique.
The majority of agricultural activities that Mozambicans engage in are of the non-irrigated type. However, data show that the overall potential irrigated area stands at 3.3 million hectares. For Mozambicans, the agriculture industry provides work for more than three quarters of the labour force.
The Agriculture Minister was quoted as telling the Maputo daily Noticias that the crops selected for this research project will be instrumental in improving the lives of Mozambicans. Moreover, the crops will bolster the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) and balance of payments.
Mozambique, on the one hand, relies on cotton and cashew exports to reduce its trade deficit, as well as to boost the incomes of peasant families; cassava, on the other hand, is a staple crop for the sustainability of food security. Also called manioc, cassava is cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible and starchy tuberous root. As for the potato, officials in Mozambique consider that increasing the output of this crop will result in a drop in import numbers.
For his part, Clauzuola noted that solid research, the promotion of new technologies, and the generation of improved seeds will make this programme a true winner. The research will be carried out by the country's National Agricultural Research Institute, the National Cotton Institute and the Cashew Promotion Institute, Noticias reported.
Cooperation between the EU and Mozambique has progressed smoothly and positively over the years. EU disbursements to Mozambique, for the period 1978-2004, stood at EUR 1.8 million. The funds were earmarked to various programmes and projects; 86% were grants and the rest were soft loans. Besides apportioning funds for the agricultural sector, the EU has offered macro-financial support, food aid, transport infrastructure and rural rehabilitation. Additional funding was provided for the period 2002-2007.