China’s Centre for Agricultural Technology in Mozambique opens at start of 2010 to boost productivity

30 November 2009

Maputo, Mozambique, 30 Nov – The opening of the first Centre for Research and Transfer of Agricultural Technology in Mozambique, which promises to increase productivity of the country’s agricultural land, is set for the beginning of 2010, according to a statement from the Panos development institute.

“The unit will use Chinese agricultural capacity to drive agricultural productivity in Mozambique, improving cropping methods and training local scientists and farmers,” said the statement published by Panos.

The Centre is being built in the area next to the Umbelúzi Agrarian Stations, in Boane district, Maputo province and represents an investment of US$55 million.

“Chinese experts placed there will make available maize, rice seeds, fruit and vegetables and test their appropriateness for the local climate,” said the statement.

The Centre will be a pioneer amongst the ten agricultural technology centres that China, via President Hu Jintao, pledged to build in Africa.

In Mozambique’s case, it is expected that the launch of projects that will make it possible to increase rice production five-fold, from 100,000 tonnes currently to 500,000 tonnes per year.

The centre will specific laboratories for natural and biological sciences, areas for planting up various crops as well as for aquaculture.

The centre is the result of an agreement signed in 2008 between the Mozambican and Chinese governments, via the Ministries for Science Technology and Agriculture.

It also included building a second Chinese centre in Mozambique, in the Moamba Technological Park.

In 2008 the Chinese government committed to investing US$800 million in modernising the Mozambican agricultural sector and a year before that the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the establishment of around 3,000 Chinese farmers in Tete and Zambézia provinces, with the aim of setting up agricultural and livestock farms along Mozambique’s largest river.

Construction of irrigation networks and channels, including a large canal linking lake Malawi, the second largest on the continent, to the rivers and dams of Mozambique, is also planned.

Around 100 Chinese agricultural experts have been working in Mozambique this year, including teams from the renowned Hunan Hybrid Maize Institute.

According to researcher, Loro Horta, the technological centres project is the result of a growing Chinese interest in African agricultural resources, which creates the basis for “the modernisation of the African agricultural sector.”

“Over the last two years, demand for new land has led Beijing to aggressively search for large property concessions in Mozambique, especially in its most fertile areas, such as the Zambezi valleys (north) and the Limpopo (south),” noted a recent article entitled, “Food Security in Africa: China’s new rice bowl.”

“Considerable attention has been paid to Chinese interests in oil and other African mining resources, but it is perhaps in agriculture and food processing that China will have a more significant impact on the continent’s future,” said Horta, who is the son of East Timorese President, Ramos Horta. (macauhub)