What Makes Agricultural Intensification Profitable for Mozambican Smallholders?

November 1, 1998 - Author: Julie A. Howard, José Jaime Jeje, David Tschirley, Paul Strasberg, Eric W. Crawford, and Michael T. Weber

IDWP 69. Julie A. Howard, José Jaime Jeje, David Tschirley, Paul Strasberg, Eric W. Crawford, and Michael T. Weber. 1998. 98 pp. What Makes Agricultural Intensification Profitable for Mozambican Smallholders?


Mozambique, at peace since 1992 after three decades of civil strife, must increase agricultural
production in order to reduce poverty and help feed its rapidly growing population.
Intensification (increasing yields on land already under cultivation through the use of inputs such
as chemical fertilizer, improved varieties of seed, and pesticides) is an important part of this
strategy. The country’s prime agricultural lands are already densely populated, and the presence
of tsetse fly in the productive northern areas makes area expansion through the use of animal
traction difficult.
Current yields of major food and export crops in Mozambique are low in comparison with other
African countries1, and the use of improved inputs is extremely limited. Mozambique uses 1.2
kg of NPK per hectare of arable land, compared to 13.9 kg/ha in Southern Africa, 20.1 kg/ha in
SSA, and 87.1 kg/ha in the world (Bay and de Sousa 1990). Although many smallholders
received improved varieties of seed through emergency programs during the late 1980s and early
1990s, the programs have now ended and farmers are replanting instead of purchasing new seed.

This report summarizes an appraisal of input utilization and marketing in Mozambique, focusing
on the following research questions: (1) What are current smallholder yields for major
commodities, and what is the potential for increasing yields through the use of improved
technologies? (2) To what extent are improved technologies already being used by smallholders,
and is the use of improved technologies profitable? (3) How are improved seeds, fertilizer and
pesticides currently produced and distributed? and (4) What are the key constraints and
opportunities for increasing the use of improved technologies by smallholders?
A two-part approach was used to gather data. First, key informants and reports (from
government agencies, NGOs, donors and international organizations) were consulted to obtain
information on yields, levels of technology adoption, and production and distribution channels
for seed, fertilizer and pesticides. Second, an in-depth analysis of one of the country’s leading
efforts to promote intensification was carried out. A survey of 223 smallholders participating in
the Direcção Nacional de Extensão Rural/Sasakawa-Global 2000 program (DNER/SG2000) was
undertaken to evaluate the financial and economic profitability of the improved maize
technology package as applied by farmers in Manica and Nampula Provinces during 1996/97.

Tags: food security group, idwp, input use and market development, mozambique

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