Maputo — The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a loan of 89.4 million US dollars from the Bank’s soft loan facility, the International Development Association (IDA), to support the governments of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia in their efforts to boost food security and farm productivity.
In addition, the World Bank’s Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa will grant 600,000 dollars to the Botswana-based Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa. According to a World Bank press release, the project’s objective is “to increase the availability of improved agricultural technologies in participating countries in the SADC region”. It will establish a Regional Centres of Leadership to allow “regional specialization around priority farming systems and more strategic investments in agricultural research capacity”. These Centres will deal in particular with such staples as maize (Malawi), rice (Mozambique), and legumes (Zambia). The project will also support regional collaboration in agricultural research, technology dissemination, and training. At least 30 percent of targeted farmers will be women.
“Like in most of the continent, agricultural productivity is far below potential in Mozambique,” said the World Bank country director for Mozambique, Laurence Clarke, cited in the release. . “I’m pleased that we are supporting actions such as technology transfer that will directly impact on the food crops sub-sector, which in turn affects the performance of the agricultural sector overall, as well as incomes and poverty levels throughout the entire economy.” One of the team leaders for the project, Aniceto Bila, said “Agricultural productivity is one of the main priorities of the Agriculture Development Strategy (PEDSA) in Mozambique. The project will, among other things, focus on rice productivity through improved research in the country. It will also support the construction of a regional center for research in Namacurra, Zambezia province.” The Bank release says that the project “is fully aligned with the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and supports its call for scaling-up regional collaboration in agricultural research and development as a way to efficiently address capacity constraints and increase technology spillovers in the rural economy”.