The northern province of Nampula hopes to harvest more than 37,000 tonnes of cashew nuts this year, a source in the provincial agriculture directorate told AIM. The country's total production is estimated at about 55,000 tonnes.Vitorino Xavier of the Nampula provincial agriculture directorate said that Nampula harvested 37,000 tones in 1999 - 7,000 tonnes less than the its maximum ever output.
Xavier thought that the liberalisation of the trade in raw and unprocessed nuts, imposed by the World Bank, is a problem "but not the most important". Under pressure from the World Bank, the government has been stripping the processing industry of protection and stimulating the export of raw nuts to India. "In our view, liberalisation policy is a serious problem, but a more serious problem is low productivity. Thus, efforts and resources should be allocated to address this problem", he said.
He said that Nampula has launched combined actions to improve the quality of cashew trees, including the identification of higher quality trees and encouraging their treatment with chemical products. He believed that the fight against the so called "cashew tree disease" will bear good results in the near future, and will reaffirm Nampula as a leading cashew nut producing province.
Xavier explained that a number of experiments were carried out in 1998, which involved treating trees with chemical products. They showed good results, and peasants felt encouraged to continue tending to trees. The experiment was in an advanced stage, he said, adding that it increased hopes of an increase in production.
He pointed out that by looking at the production figures, one can easily conclude that even if all the raw nuts were to be processed in the country there would still be not enough to supply the existing factories. About ten processing plants have been closed, and others are at a standstill as a result of the trade liberalisation in raw nuts.
As an example of how improved techniques can lead to improved productivity, Xavier gave the example of the neighbouring Tanzania, that produced only 16,000 tones in 1986, but is now producing about 100,000 tones a year.
A former Finance Minister, Abdul-Magid Osman, has suggested the concession of fiscal incentives to small and medium scale agricultural companies.
Speaking on 3 August at a meeting between the country's Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry and the Agricultural commercial sector, Osman said the regime in use for industrial ventures should also be applied for agriculture.
He thought that although huge projects such as the MOZAL aluminium smelter in Maputo were big in terms of the volume of business, their raw material and final product are from outside the country and of little use to the country.
However, he said that small and medium scale companies create jobs for the nationals and have an added value in Mozambique. He was not against huge projects, he added, but fiscal and other incentives should be given to other investors for the development of the country's economy.
The impact of small and medium scale companies on the lives of the population "has visibility and is direct", and if agriculture employs about 90 per cent of the country's population, it should be benefit from fiscal incentives.
"Mozambique needs agriculture for poverty relief", he stressed, adding that the sector "shouldn't be left to its own luck, since this way it won't survive".
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia said that one of the problems the sector faces is the lack of markets to sell most of the agriculture surplus. This is mainly due to the bad state of roads and lack of transport, he said. But if the private and public sectors were to establish partnerships, this would be eventually overcome.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food Security Sector projects a cereal deficit of 487,000 tonnes for the 2000/2001 marketing year, according to the sector's annual report.
The deficit has been blamed on the number of natural and economic factors including the Cyclone Eline which caused the floods that hit Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Cereals, particularly maize, are the staple food for the 200 million people in the region and any shortage means some will have to rely on imports for sustenance, said the report. The expected cereal output of 27.05 million tonnes falls short of the total requirements estimated at 27.53 million tonnes, including 2.3 million tonnes needed for replenishing strategic grain reserve stocks.
The report said it should be noted that cereal deficits in some countries do not necessarily mean food insecurity as financial resources are available to import cereals.
The European Union has approved an additional $1.2 million intended for flood victims in Mozambique.
The funds will be channelled through some of the NGOs involved in relief operations, namely World Vision, Movimundo, and Action Against Hunger; and will be used to strengthen the process of resettlement of about 18,500 families.
Priority is to be given to food security and the monitoring of the situation of vulnerable groups in the Limpopo, Save and Buzi river valleys during the forthcoming planting season. The European Union is also to pay special attention to the rehabilitation of water supply systems and other infrastructures in rural areas damaged by the flooding.
The announcement follows the EU's approval at the end of July for the disbursement of $61 million for post-flood reconstruction. The money, pledged during the Rome donor conference, will be used for urban road rehabilitation, and the construction of protective dikes in Xai-Xai and Chokwe, in the southern Gaza province, seriously hit by flooding in February and March.
France has disbursed 15 million French francs (slightly less than $210,000) intended for post-flood reconstruction.
The funds have been earmarked for the sectors of public administration, health, school and rural development.
Some of the money is to support the resettlement of the population of the Chokwe district, in the southern province of Gaza, which was devastated by flooding.
France has already disbursed five million francs for the purchase of school material for 34,800 pupils in Chokwe.
Norway has agreed to disburse $6.5 million for post-flood reconstruction in the areas of health, energy and agriculture.
The amount is part of the funds pledged at a donors' international conference held in Rome in early May. In all, donors pledged $452.9 million.
The Italian government has pledged $382,000 to Mozambique intended for post-flooding reconstruction in some of the country's southern and central districts.
The money will go toward the funding of the Machanga district, in the central Sofala, and Mambone, in the southern Inhambane province. The funding has been earmarked for the areas of education, health, water supply.
The coordinator of the Italian cooperation in Sofala, Luigi Andreoni, said that in parallel to these activities, his institution is carrying out other institutional and technical support programmes in another six districts. Andreoni said that apart from Machanga and Mambone, emergency works are being carried out, in Govuro, Inhambane, to rehabilitate 10 primary and secondary schools, and boarding schools belonging to the Catholic Church. Machanga pupils have also received 2,000 kits of school materials and household goods.
Andreoni pointed out that the Italian support to emergency programmes goes hand in hand with planned development programmes, in the context of the "Sofala-2000" programme.
One of the undertakings, in the district of Nhamatanda, is the building of an electric sub-station, to solve the problem of systematic power cuts, particularly in the local hospital, and the rehabilitation of local sanitation estimated at $20,000.
The British government has pledged an undisclosed amount intended for reconstruction works on the main north-south highway between Chicumbane and Xai-Xai, in the southern Gaza province.
The Chicumbane-Xai-Xai stretch was badly damaged at the height of the floods. The repair works have been estimated to cost $10 million. The money will also be used to improve various sections on the highway destroyed by flooding.
Emergency works on the road will be completed by September. It is expected that long-term works will be over by the end of 2001.
Apart from funding for the Chicumbane-Xai-Xai stretch of road, the British government is also funding the rehabilitation of rural roads in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane.
Mozambique and the United States of America have signed an agreement under which the latter is to disburse $5.5 million earmarked for the purchase of 23,000 tonnes of wheat in support of the country's population.
Signing the Food Aid Agreement were Mozambican Foreign Affairs Minister Leonardo Simao and the representative of the United States Agency for International Aid, Cynthia Rozell.
The agreement signed on 2 August is aimed at improving rural household revenues, and promote food security. The programme will be carried out by formal financial intermediaries, and the generated funds are intended for the establishment of a line of credit in the local commercial banks for the firms.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has granted the Mozambican government $30,000 for the country's programme against HIV/AIDS. The grant was handed to the Mozambican National Council for the Struggle AIDS (CNCS), and is earmarked to cover its operational costs.
UNICEF is also planning to disburse $4 million this year for the programme's technical and financial support.
During the next few years more Mozambicans will die of AIDS than died in the past few decades of war, floods, drought, and diseases, said Mark Stirling, UNICEF representative in Mozambique. Stirling was speaking at a ceremony to hand the money over to CNCS executive secretary, Janet Mondlane.
The Mozambican government is seeking to attract big tourism investors in a measure aimed at boosting the tourism sector which has been turning over an annual average of about $32 million, a Tourism Ministry source told AIM.
The government is currently working out strategies to attract big hotel chains, particularly in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa where there is a great potential for tourism.
"We need investments in the entire country, but the Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces are a priority in this effort that is aimed at stimulating development of eco-tourism, particularly in the Niassa reserve", the source said.
He did not say which hotel chains were being targeted, but said they are mainly from the Southern African region.
To lure them the state offers incentives such as access of international flights to some of the most important touristic areas in the country, namely the tourist resort of Bilene and Ponta do Ouro.
The recent opening of the Vilankulo airport, in southern Inhambane, to international traffic, is also part of the efforts to encourage tourism activities in the country.
The tourism industry is also planning to give autonomy to the National Tourism Fund which is charged with supporting micro and small businesses in this sector.
The idea is to transform tourism into one of the main sources of the country's revenue, and contribute to job creation. As part of this programme, the government has decreed that all conservation areas, including parks, natural reserves and other biodiversity areas be placed under the Tourism Ministry, rather than the Ministry of Agriculture
The idea is to ensure the correct use of the resources, and eliminating the multiple subordination which would lead to complicated red tape whenever an investor wants to apply for a licence in the area.
As part of the same policy, the government has created a Tourism Facilitating Commission, that includes the ministries of Tourism, Transports and Communications, Interior, Public Works and Housing, and Agriculture.
Mozambique is gearing up to enter the crucial stage of the implementation of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Programme aimed at reducing by half the spread of malaria by 2010.
The programme was launched in 1998 by the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Director, Gro Brundtland.
Speaking on 10 August at a meeting to train facilitators who will carry out awareness campaigns, Health National Director Alexandre Manguele said that malaria is one of the greatest challenges to public health. Consequently it was necessary to involve all sectors of the society in the struggle against the disease.
The RBM intends to introduce new malaria fighting methods, namely the combination of new medicines and personal mosquito nets doused with insecticides and the encouragement of research on new medicines.
Samuel Mabunda of the country's National Programme for the Struggle Against Malaria said that the RBM programme will be implemented in two stages: an awareness campaign stage, and another for the drafting of a plan of action.
The implementation of the project will consume about $8 million. Malaria is blamed for a third of the deaths in the country's hospitals, and the prevalence rate is estimated at about 62 per cent of around 17 million inhabitants.
The WHO estimates that 3,000 people die daily worldwide due to malaria, and most of these deaths occur in Africa.
Illegal gold prospecting in the locality of Impapa, in the northern province of Niassa, is causing serious threats to the local environment, according to government sources.
A committee to redress the situation is to be established, the Provincial Environment Director Francisco Pangaya told AIM at the weekend in the tourist resort of Bilene in the southern province of Gaza. The committee will analyse the impact of gold panning in the area, and seek solutions to preserve its environment and natural resources.
Pangaya thought that the committee should include staff from the provincial directorates of Environment, and Mineral Resources and Energy, and this had to be done as soon as possible since the situation is getting worse.
One interim measure would be the expulsion of all illegal foreign prospectors, he said, adding that Mozambicans should be issued with licences and organised in associations that should work in coordination with the local authorities to ensure the management of the environment.
The foreigners, including Tanzanians, Kenyans, and Burundese, enter Niassa through Tanzania and settle in Impapa, in the Lago district, where they carry out their illegal activities.
In Impapa illegal panning has caused soil erosion, ravines, the diversion of the water courses, and the destruction of some forest resources. There have also been unconfirmed reports suggesting that the prospectors are using chemicals. This has fuelled fears of water contamination.
The Standing Commission of the Assembly of the Republic (AR), Mozambique's parliament, has decided to lift the immunity of two Renamo deputies.
The Attorney-General's Office (PGR) has asked parliament to lift the immunities of Manecas Daniel and Jose Manteigas of Zambezia province, so that it can subpoena them for their involvement in inciting the population to violence during the 1999 elections campaign.
Parliamentary immunity protects deputies from being brought to justice, unless they are caught red-handed or their immunity is lifted.
Mateus Kathupa, spokesperson of the Standing Commission, told AIM that the decision is still provisional, because the PGR has still to send the relevant charge sheets to parliament.
The head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ossufo Quitine, said that PGR's attitude is a clear sign of "demonstration of strength since there was no crime". Quitine thought that it was strange that the PGR is "rushing with the charges against the deputies when there are other charge sheets that have long been waiting to be taken to court".
However, Renamo was unconcerned about the lifting of the immunity because "we're sure that nothing is going to happen because they didn't commit any crime".
The Mozambican tobacco company, Mozambique Leaf Tobacco, has floated plans to build a tobacco processing factory in the western province of Tete.
Zeferino Madeira of the Mozambique Leaf Tobacco, a joint-venture between Mozambicans and Malawians, said that on-going viability studies show that the factory can be profitable within two years - it is thought by then the country will produce 15,000 tonnes of tobacco leaf per year.
Madeira thought that such a factory would avert "sad situations like Mozambique went through three months ago when 60 trucks loaded with about 7,500 tonnes of tobacco leaf were held at the border between Mozambique and Malawi awaiting authority to proceed".
All the tobacco produced in the provinces of Tete, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado is processed in Malawi, and is subsequently exported. But Malawi in March decided to unilaterally ban Mozambican tobacco imports when prices at tobacco auction floors were at their lowest.
The Mozambique Leaf Tobacco claims to have invested about $1 million since 1996 in the production of tobacco. The Mozambican authorities think that the crop has impacted positively with the peasant farmers, although production is still low - at 10,000 tonnes per year.
The government is keen on the idea of a factory in Tete. The Provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Director, Estevao Kanuandula, said that "we have to find an internal solution for the processing of our tobacco.
The consortium headed by the British Mersey Docks and Harbour company has won the bid to privately manage the Maputo port for the next 15 years, following more than two years of negotiations.
According to Transports and Communication Minister Tomas Salomao, the decision was taken recently by the country's Council of Ministers. Salomao said that the consortium is to disburse an initial instalment of $5 million, part of a total of $100 million that the full rehabilitation of the port is estimated to cost.
Speaking during an interval of bilateral talks between Mozambican and South African delegations of Transports and Communications, Salomao explained that by privatising the management of the port, the Mozambican government is rehabilitating port and railway infrastructures, which includes dredging, maintenance and management.
The umbrella organisation for the country's mainstream Protestant churches, the Mozambican Christian Council (CCM), has expressed concerns over a police decision to return firearms seized just before independence in 1975 to those civilians who can prove ownership, reports "Noticias" on 12 August. The weapons were confiscated by the then Portuguese High Commissioner to Mozambique in October 1974, following violent riots on 7 September.
The CCM argues that this will harm the ongoing "Weapons to Hoes" (TAE) project. The project is aimed at exchanging weapons used in the 16-year long war of destabilisation for agricultural tools, or other useful implements.
CCM secretary general Lucas Amosse told reporters that although legally his institution can do nothing to oppose the return of the firearms, it believes that this is not opportune because "all efforts at the moment are to prevent people owning firearms".
He urged the promoters of the initiative, particularly the police, to return the weapons "with maximum precaution and to the right people", meaning firearms should only be returned to respectable people, who do not represent a danger to the society, and have a licence.
The CCM would seek to recover the weapons from their owners in line with the "TAE" project. "We'll continue our programme. We think there's no need for a person to keep a weapon without a justification, hence we are going to invite them to hand the weapons".
For his part, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane expressed "shock" at the police decision, because the country is currently in the process of disarming people. He said that this "is an attitude that takes us back to an arms' mentality" which clashed with the "TAE" project.
"I feel like crying", said Sengulane, noting that this measure comes at a time when more and more cases of deaths by firearms are reported countrywide.
Handicapped war veterans in Matola have continued their land-grabbing campaign, despite the establishment of a commission seeking to find land to distribute among them. The commission comprises former soldiers and municipal authorities.
The land invasions in the locality of Tsalala started three months ago. The disabled veterans first said they wanted the land to build their houses, but it was later found out that they sold the plots to other people, reported the daily paper "Noticias.
Recently they tried to occupy land belonging to the publicly-owned Mozambican Television (TVM), but they were stopped by the local residents.
Matola municipality spokesperson Paulo Manhica told reporters that this case led to a meeting between TVM, the municipal authorities and representatives of former soldiers.
So far the municipal authorities have failed to expel the land-grabbers - who have occupied about 600 plots of land, and are continuing to build their houses.
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