twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Natural gas is driving industrial agriculture expansion in Mozambique, says Grace Goodrich

Already considered a mecca for crop cultivation, Mozambique is now benefiting from ongoing gas monetisation initiatives which hold huge potential for industrial farming expansion

bigstock Farm 180% of the labour force in Mozambique is employed in agriculture. (Image Source: Africa Oil & Power Conference)

Agriculture represents the second-largest sector of the Mozambican economy – accounting for more than 25% of GDP and employing 80% of the labour force – and is supported by staple crops including maize, cassava, rice, nuts, cotton, coffee, sugar and tobacco. Maize and cassava, for example, are grown by 80% of all Mozambican small-scale farmers and make up more than one-third of cultivated land. Yet the sector remains confined to subsistence farming largely due to a lack of investment, which impedes the development of critical infrastructure required to extend farming practices outside of the individual household.

In fact, smallholder farmers in Mozambique account for 95% of agricultural production, while roughly 400 commercial farmers - primarily producing sugar, soybeans, bananas, rice, vegetables, nuts, cotton and tobacco - account for the remaining five%. With only 16% of land suitable for farming currently being cultivated Mozambique boasts considerable potential for large-scale, industrialised farming both in-country and for regional export.

From Net Importer to Net Exporter

A key constraint to the development of commercial agriculture in Mozambique is limited infrastructure: insufficient roads, railway and ports, antiquated farming practices and high vulnerability to drought, floods and cyclones, leaving the sector susceptible to external shocks.

While discovery of Mozambican gas has accelerated energy infrastructure growth since commercial reserves were discovered in 2011, domestic transport and logistics sectors remain underdeveloped, leading to longer lead times and higher costs associated with storage and warehousing. Moreover, limited electricity access and high fuel prices - given that the country relies on imported refined petroleum derivatives - can increase product costs by 10-20% per kg. To render small-scale farmers more resilient to climate change and improve farming techniques, resource-smart technologies such as drip systems, pumps, ultraviolet plastic filtration and post-harvest storage have been implemented and met with intermediate success, yet sustained knowledge and technology transfer remains needed.

Despite its considerable export potential to the wider region, Mozambique carries a significant trade deficit, importing capital-intensive goods such as farming and transport equipment, along with processed produce, meat and livestock from its Southern African Development Community neighbours. As a result, integrated value chains that facilitate the manufacturing of cash crops stand to generate in-country value by refining raw agricultural goods into consumable products and establishing domestic and regional consumer markets in the process. Improved access to financial services and credit, in which smallholder farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises can grow their businesses and access critical capital for improved farming technologies, would also serve to alleviate rural poverty and drive financial inclusion.

Natural gas to drive expansion

Ongoing gas monetisation initiatives in Mozambique have a direct impact on the scale and expansion of industrial agriculture in the country, in addition to the potential that gas-to-power offers to power irrigation pumps, dry crops, heat greenhouses and so forth.

Under the administration of President Filipe Nyusi, natural gas has been positioned not as an end within itself, but rather as a means of generating long-term economic diversification, skills development and job creation across energy, agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing and construction sectors. Nyusi’s focus on agro-industry and agro-chemistry seeks to achieve “zero hunger” in the country through the cultivation of self-sufficient farming and improved access to infrastructure.

More specifically, natural gas offers the ability to reduce costs of food production (and importation) and establish large-scale industrial farming through the development of locally manufactured chemical fertilisers. Natural gas, of which Mozambique holds 100 trillion cu ft of recoverable reserves, plays an integral role in fertiliser production, as it is used as a primary raw material for the production of liquid ammonia and resulting carbon dioxide gas, which is then combined to create urea fertiliser.

Fertilisation not only improves crop yields, but also boosts agricultural profitability and nutrient density. With enhanced crop efficiency and the early seeds of a downstream and manufacturing industry, Mozambique could serve as a regional (and even international) player in food production and security, a transition facilitated by the African Continental Free Trade Area that widens the reach of domestic agriculture and industry. For import-dependent African countries like Mozambique, food and energy security have risen to the forefront of the national agenda in the wake of Covid-19 and disruptions to regional and global supply chains.


LATEST NEWS IN Agriculture

African food imports bill predicted to double by 2030

African food imports bill predicted to d…

Experts have warned that the cost of Africa’s yearly food imports could increase from US$50bn to US$110bn by 2030 if immediate measures aren’t taken to increase food production

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spotlight

Wildlife and forestry sector in the spot…

On August 22, the 23rd session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, hosted by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo opened in Kinshasa, putting the future...

Boosting investment for Africa-made cotton

Boosting investment for Africa-made cott…

At a partner’s conference on cotton, jointly organised with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), donors were urged to mobilise resources for new partnerships.   

Nature-based solutions help farmers in Ghana

Nature-based solutions help farmers in G…

Organic pesticides, waste-based fertilisers and forest regeneration are just a few of the green initiatives being employed in Ghana to boost farming communities’ resilience to the impacts of climate...

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Saharan Africa

Boosting soil nutrient mapping in sub-Sa…

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is set to fast track an impact-oriented project in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America for digital soil nutrient mapping, after...

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double rice production to curb food insecurity

Gambia-Korea partnership seeks to double…

President Adama Barrow has received a delegation led by the Korean Ambassador to The Gambia, HE Kim Ji-Joon, at the State House in Banjul to announce the delivery of sample rice...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Agriculture

Soycom to boost sunflower and soyabean farming in Rwanda

Soycom to boost sunflower and soyabean f…

Soycom, an edible seed processing company, announced that it has signed an agreement with Rwandan farmers to promote the growth of sunflower, soyabeans and groundnuts in Rwamagana, Rwanda

IFAD rural youth work project in Senegal declared a success

IFAD rural youth work project in Senegal…

An IFAD-supported youth employment project in Senegal has shown great progress, with 100 per cent of participants interviewed reporting improvements in their employment situation, professional skills and income

Liberian farmers urged to run farms as business venture

Liberian farmers urged to run farms as b…

Liberian farmers have been urged to carry out farming as a business venture to help improve food security within the country and increase the chances of success for the government's Poverty Reduction...

FAO shares strategies for women's resilience to climate change

FAO shares strategies for women's resili…

The FAO Subregional Office for West Africa, in collaboration with country offices, organized a panel to share adaptation strategies to improve women's resilience to climate change

Research uncovers gene that improves drought resistance in cereals

Research uncovers gene that improves dro…

As climate change is having a devastating impact on cereal crops, scientists at Heriot-Watt University have identified a gene responsible for drought resistance in barley which is thought to help...

NDC launches US$111mn palm oil project in Tanzania

NDC launches US$111mn palm oil project i…

Nava Bharat Pte. Limited (NBS) in collaboration with Tanzania’s National Development Corporation (NDC) is investing US$111mn in a 10,000ha (hectare) Integrated Palm Oil project in Ruvu Basin Coast region near...

Pan-African AgriBusiness Forum 2015 opens in DR Congo

Pan-African AgriBusiness Forum 2015 open…

The annual AgriBusiness Forum opened its doors to more than 400 delegates from around the world starting 22 March 2015

Good Nature Agro secures funding to accelerate production of legume value chains

Good Nature Agro secures funding to acce…

Good Nature Agro, a Zambian company working from end-to-end within the specialised legume value chains, has announced the closure of Series A equity financing totalling US$ 2.1mn

Zimbabwe considering scrapping fertiliser import duty

Zimbabwe considering scrapping fertilise…

Zimbabwe’s government may remove the import duty on fertilisers this season to help reduce production costs for farmers

African Development Bank joins online to launch AGRF platform

African Development Bank joins online to…

African Development Bank participates in the launch of African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) platform linking Africa’s SMEs to investment opportunity

Cargill investing heavily in Côte d'Ivoire cocoa sector

Cargill investing heavily in Côte d'Ivoi…

US agribusiness giant Cargill Inc has announced that it will invest US$3.25mn in developing and expanding farmer training to support the cocoa sector in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's top producer.

Nigeria sets up a 200,000 yam capacity facility

Nigeria sets up a 200,000 yam capacity f…

The Nigerian government has set up a 200,000 yam capacity market in Zaki Biam, a local government area in Benue State, North Central Nigeria

Prev Next