Maputo — The Mozambican authorities are considering stripping the company Aviam Ltd of its licence to plant the shrub jatropha in 10,000 hectares of land, in the district of Nacala-a-Velha, in the northern province of Nampula.
Aviam is a joint venture formed by Italian and Mozambican interests. It had pledged to invest 20 million US dollars in the jatropha plantation, which would then produce biofuels.
But, according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Aviam is not respecting the agreed timetable for implementing the project.
"When a project is submitted to the government's Investment Promotion Centre and to the Office of Special Development Economic Zones, it must be accompanied by a plan which should be complied with scrupulously", said the Nacala-a-Velha district administrator, Daniel Chapo. "This isn't happening with Aviam. There are a series of things that are not happening within the established deadlines".
Aviam's supposed lack of seriousness had been denounced to Nampula provincial governor Felismino Tocoli in mid-2011. At the time, Tocoli thought there were already sufficient signs that Avian was not following the project timetable.
Although the Ministry of Agriculture granted Aviam a licence to plant on 10,000 hectares, to date the company has only planted 150 hectares with jatropha. There is no sign of the promised factory to produce biodiesel from jatropha. Initially, Aviam had employed 158 local peasants, but subsequently that number has fallen to around 50.
"Because the area requested was more than 1,000 hectares, this project had to be authorised at central level", said Chapo. "What we have to do now is to inform the government that the situation on the ground is not meeting our expectations"