Maputo, Mozambique, 21 July – The Government of Mozambique wants to increase the rice producing area in the Chokwe irrigation area, in Gaza province, from 7,000 to 14,000 hectares with a view to wiping out the country’s rice deficit by 2011, according to Mozambican news agency AIM.
The governor of Gaza province told AIM that the Government was working with a view to garnering US$9 million in funding to expand the rice production area in Chokwe, which in the current season produced 30,000 tonnes of rice.
Currently the rice deficit in Mozambique is estimated at 315,000 tonnes, despite the country’s potential and rice being considered to be a strategic crop in the Plan of Action for Food Production (PAPA), approved in 2008.
Raimundo Diomba also said that other activities were underway such as assisting rice producers, with a view to increasing productivity in the districts of Manjacaze, Bilene and Xai-Xai.
By 2011 the goevrnment wants to wipe out the deficit of the main foodstuffs and reduce the lack of wheat by 20 percent. Wheat production is expected to total 21,000 tonnes this year (as compared to around 3,000 tonnes last season).
Figures from the Agriculture Ministry showed that, from 2005 to 2008, production of cassava, a staple food for many Mozambican families rose from 6.6 million tonnes to 8.4 million tonnes.
In the same period grain production saw a rise of 1.9 million tonnes to 2.3 million tonnes.
According to the Agriculture Minister, Soares Nhaca, these rises are still not enough as Mozambique has an overall food deficit of around 20 percent.
Up to 1993 Mozambique imported 80 percent of its grain needs, but now it imports 20 percent.
According to the Government, the biggest deficit currently is rice, which totals 315,000 tonnes, and wheat, imports of which total some 469,000 tonnes per year.
Mozambique also has a deficit in production of cooking oil, chicken meat, potatoes and other foods. (macauhub)