Agriculture: Future Scenarios for Southern Africa - Food Production in Mozambique and Rising Global Food Prices

By Gilberto Biacuana on March 12, 2009

This briefing explores the driving forces of high food prices in Mozambique and the country's potential for food security and agricultural production and illustrates how the government's underinvestment in agriculture and its limited participation in markets of key agricultural inputs have affected food production.

Key findings:

  • Food production is undermined by lack of public investment in agriculture. Mozambique has tremendous agricultural potential, 36 million ha, with only 12.5% currently in use. It has irrigation potential of 3.3 million ha with only about 50 000 ha under irrigation, mostly sugarcane. It is almost self-sufficient in maize but the Internal marketing of the grain is affected by poor infrastructure.

  • After the Structural Adjustment Program agricultural investment and support decreased and marketing of inputs and agricultural produce was left to the private sector on the assumption that free markets would raise farm-gate prices and increase production. Unfortunately, production did not increase as small farm holders could not afford farm inputs.

  • Land ownership remains a big problem as the current land regime does not encourage partnerships, is costly & cumbersome & can delay investments and the process of obtaining a lease is not transparent & prone to corruption.

  • Government has put in place a Green revolution strategy to increase long term food security by using trade policy instruments such as the reduction of import tariffs of major staples i.e. wheat and rice and the creation of silos for strategic reserves.

Key recommendations:

  • Private sector participation will be crucial for the development of the agricultural sector in Mozambique.

  • In order to attract private investors to the sector, the government will have to improve the country's investment climate situation, roads, marketing infrastructure and credit markets and resolve the problems that still persist with regard to land tenure.

Report details

IISD, 2009