Maputo — Gondola (Mozambique), 17 May (AIM) - Mozambique has suffered not only from cyclones and flooding in the central and northern provinces, but also from drought in the south of the country.
According to Agriculture Minister Higino de Marrule, at least 126,000 hectares of crops have been affected by drought in the three southern provinces of Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo in the current (2018/19) agricultural season.
Speaking on Thursday in the central district of Gondola, at the opening of a meeting of his ministry's Coordinating Council, Marrule said that more than 60,000 households are affected by the drought. In the areas affected some 60 per cent of the crops have been lost.
"Production has dropped significantly", he said. "What was expected could not be achieved during the first sowing seasons".
The challenge now was to exploit to the maximum low lying areas which still retain some moisture during the second season. "The government is providing the necessary support to the producers to increase their production", said the Minister.
Mozambican agriculture had also faced insect and fungal pests, which had destroyed part of the efforts made by farmers.
On the positive side, Marrule said that food security had improved in 2018, with 85 per cent of households food secure, compared with 66.5 per cent five years ago. He said that in the 2018 harvest, the country produced 3.2 million tonnes of grain, a 28 per cent increase on the 2.5 million tonnes produced five years earlier.
As for root crops, production had risen from 9.5 million tonnes in the 2014/15 agricultural year to 15 million tonnes in 2017/18, a rise of 58 per cent. Over the same period, Mozambique's vegetable production rose by more than 100 per cent, from 1.3 million to 2.9 million tonnes.
Marrule attributed these successes to such factors as exempting the import of agricultural raw materials and equipment from Value Added Tax (VAT), and the introduction of the National Agricultural Mechanisation Programme (PNMA).
134 agricultural service centres have been set up, he said, which will soon be transformed into agro-industrial parks. They now hire out 741 tractors, which were used to plough an area of 187.000 hectares in the 2017/2018 campaign.