New rice project launched in Maputo

Agencia de Informção de Moçambique | 14 August 2009

Maputo — The 'Bela Vista-Rice Project', a consortium formed by Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP) and the Mozambican company Ubuntu SA (LAP/Ubuntu SA) launched in Maputo this Friday a new rice project budgeted at 30 million U.S. dollars, to be implemented in Bela Vista, capital of Mozambique's southernmost district of Matutuine.

Of this amount, 10 million U.S. dollars will be used to build a new processing plant and storage silos. The project is due to start by the end of this month.

According to Filipe Gago, LAP's representative, the project is to be implemented within the next five years, and initially rice will be grown in an area of nine thousand hectares, with an expected annual harvest of 40 thousand tons of rice.

In the third year of operations, the owners of the project believe that they will be able to meet at least 20 per cent of Mozambique's needs.

'During the first phase we will focus on mechanized rice production on an area covering nine thousand hectares. We are going to do some research and test a number of rice seeds varieties to get the best yields,' said Gago.

'We are working to reduce within three years imports of rice in Mozambique, particularly in Maputo, and meet the needs by 20 percent', he added.

For his turn, Ubuntu's Chairperson, Nuno Uinge said one of the main targets of the project is to promote rice production among farmers in the district of Matutuine, where there is a 'huge' potential for rice production.

Uinge explained that its enormous potential dictated the choice of Matutuine for the development of this project.

Besides large swaths of fertile land, Matutuine has the advantage of having abundant water from Maputo River that is underutilized.

'We have chosen the district of Matutuine because we found in this region the right conditions for rice production. Years ago, this district was one of the major rice producers in Mozambique and it is a good option for the country 'he said.

Matutuine has great potential for the development of large-scale rice production in the localities of Salamanga and Tinonganine, and in the communities of Matsolo, Makassane, Massohane, Caiado, Mudade, Santaca and Zitundo.

The Mozambican Government granted to the consortium 20,000 hectares of land, of which nine thousand will be used initially, and by the end of the implementation of the project most of the land will be under cultivation.

The processing plant will be built with the same area.

Investors expect that the project will reduce Mozambique's dependence on food aid and imports of rice, unemployment, mal-nutrition and improve food security, boost economic activity, among others.

Mozambique is a country gifted with huge potential for the production of rice in the irrigation schemes of Matutuine, Maputo province, Chókwè in southern province of Gaza, Nicoadala in the central province of Zambezi and Nguri in the northern Cabo Delgado province.

However, Mozambique is still dependent on rice imports to meet more than half of the demand at a national level.

Currently Mozambique imports about 315,000 tonnes of rice a year, and consumes around 600,000 tonnes.

Actions are currently underway across the country in terms of research, extension, the production of improved seeds, and the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, in order to produce rice and other crops.

Between 2005 and 2008, grain production in Mozambique grew from 1.9 to 2.3 million tonnes, but Nhaca says that "this is still not satisfactory, because we still have an overall grain deficit of 20 per cent".

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