Maputo — Once again, the Mozambican and Indian governments have insisted that Mozambique is still able to export pigeon peas to India, despite reports that surpluses of this crop are rotting in the fields.
Last week, the Indian-owned Export Trading Group (ETG), which buys pigeon peas from peasant farmers and processes them for export, announced that it was ceasing activities at its factories in Beira, Nampula, Nacala and Gurue, supposedly because it had become impossible to sell the crop in its main market, India.
But on Thursday Mozambican Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco, shortly after talks in Maputo with his Indian counterpart, Vijay Kumar Singh, said the problem was that in the 2016/2017 agricultural year Mozambique produced much more pigeon peas than expected, leading to an unsold surplus.
He denied there has been any interruption in the export of pigeon peas to India, since the overall target laid down in the July 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments has not yet been exceeded.
That target was 500,000 tonnes, but since Mozambique did not have the capacity to export such a large amount all at once, it was decided that the exports would be phased. Pacheco said that, since the 2016 agreement, Mozambique has exported 200,000 tonnes of pigeon peas to India.
“Last year's target was met in full”, he said. “The only phenomenon that occurred is that we underestimated our productive capacity. We produced more than our own target for last year”.
Under the agreement, Mozambique can export a further 300,000 tonnes of the crop to India - but it is far from clear when this will happen. Pacheco said the two governments are looking for solutions so that there s no interruption of pigeon pea exports.
Singh said there had also been overproduction of pigeon peas in India too in response to an earlier rise in the price. That led to a glut. “Most Indian farmers opted to produce pigeon peas and that created a surplus”, he argued.
Singh added that the Indian government hoped to create a system of storage silos in order to control the market.
Pacheco also told reporters that the Indian government has expressed willingness to train Mozambicans in the management of natural resources and energy. He said that, during Singh's meeting with President Filipe Nyusi “there was a very important sharing of interests about strengthening Mozambique's institutional capacity”.