AIM | 13 April 2011
Matutuine — The rice production and processing unit being built in the southernmost district of Matutuine, Maputo province, could reduce the country's rice import requirement by 20 per cent. Currently the country imports 650,000 tonnes of rice per year.
However, reducing imports by such a huge amount is dependent on the government giving permission to the owners of the Bela Vista Rice Project, LAP/Ubuntu, to extend its land under cultivation to five thousand hectares so that the project can undertake industrial scale production.
The Bela Vista Rice Project was initiated in September 2009 and has already invested 24 million US dollars out of a budget of 33 million dollars.
The Chairman of LAP/Ubuntu, Filipe Gago, said on Tuesday that since the project began in 2009 the company has carried out research into the varieties best suited to the land.
The research team included consultants from Thailand and Vietnam, countries which together account for 65 per cent of world exports of rice.
The research covered a total of 39 varieties from which ten were selected. Further studies culminated in the selection of just four varieties, which were planted over an area of 60 hectares. These varieties are expected to yield between seven and nine tonnes per hectare. Gago pointed out that Vietnam and Thailand achieve production levels of ten tonnes per hectare.
Other developments include the construction of a three metre high and seven kilometre long dyke to stop the River Maputo from flooding the fields and processing factory during the rainy season.
"We believe that we have the perfect conditions to tackle the country's rice production deficit, because we have carefully studied the complex chain of rice production" asserted Gago. However, he added that large scale production can only be implemented once the concession is extended to at least five thousand hectares.
During a visit to the rice fields, the head of Provincial Services for Rural Extension, Jorge Noe, said that the Ministry of Agriculture is committed to resolving as quickly as possibly the issue of the five thousand hectare extension. However, he pointed out that it may be that the land is not granted all at once.
The project employs 160 workers, although this number could rise to 400 workers once production is launched.
The rice de-husking factory with the capacity to process 600 tonnes of rice a day should be concluded by 2012.
The Bela Vista Rice Project is co-owned by the Libyan state's Libyan African Portfolio for Investments (LAP) and the Mozambican company Ubuntu. It is financed by the Libyan African Development Fund.