Maputo — The Mozambican government, through the National Wildlife and Forestry Directorate in the Agriculture Ministry, promoted in Maputo on Thursday, a seminar that brought together representatives of various countries and foreign organizations to discuss investment possibilities in forestry products.
Opening the event, Agriculture Minister Tomas Mandlate stressed the country's potential in terms of resources that facilitate investment, saying that "we have Development Corridors, and we have coal mines and electricity".
He also noted that, for prospective paper mills, "we have rivers with sufficient water" to feed those industries, and "we are strategically located, with ports, for the exports".
Mandlate expressed hope that this seminar will assess all these opportunities and discuss the possible risks, in order to have a clear idea of the investment possibilities in the Mozambican forestry sector.
He called for an improved partnership between the public and the private sectors, which will help the country improve the conditions for forestry plantations.
Mandlate said that Mozambique is counting on cooperation with countries such as South Africa, Finland, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and others.
The Finnish embassy is co-sponsoring the seminar, and Mandlate thanked Finland for its support for the National Agricultural Development Programme (PROAGRI), that the Mozambican government has set up as a means to fight against poverty.
The Minister pointed out that "Mozambique has large areas of forest, and exploiting these resources calls for the involvement of the public and the private sectors, but particularly of the communities".
He said that rural communities are to benefit from 20 per cent of the yields of the exploitation of forest resources.
Mandlate recalled that Mozambique has signed an agreement with the South African paper company, SAPPI, under which this company is to help reforest about 140,000 hectares.
He said that Sweden is another of the countries interested in the forest sector in the northern province of Niassa.
On the controversial issue of the export of unprocessed logs, Mandlate said that the government had been permissive for the last few years, but now intends to discourage such exports, in favour of processing the wood in Mozambique.
Simply cutting down trees and exporting the logs does not allow full use of local labour, sad Mandlate, and the country would gain much more by adding value to the timber through processing inside the country.