The structural adjustment programme a food security in Mozambique - a case study production incentives in the traditional agricultural sector
Ubisse, Armindo Elias
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Mozambique has inherited from colonialism a backward agricultural sector based mainly in plantations of export crops, dominated by white settlers and a handful of foreign companies. Production of food crops, especially maize (which constitutes the main cereal food for the population), was mainly undertaken by the traditional agricultural sector. Combined events, from central planning of production to war and natural disasters, have made unsuccessful the governmental objectives of modernising the agricultural sector and making it more productive, in order to ensure a normal food supply, leading to a permanent situation of food shortage. The "free market" economy introduced in 1987 under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), brought very little progress in terms of food crop production, leaving the country reliant on continued foreign food aid and imports. Recent studies of problems of low agricultural output in general and on the SAP performance in particular, have shown that the private sector, which is benefiting from SAP's investments, is biased towards cash crop production. The traditional agricultural sector, the biggest food producer in Mozambique, is facing integration problems into the new "free market" economy. This study has attempted to clarify the problems, which lie behind the difficulties in market integration of this sector of national agriculture. This is of particular importance, especially in this crucial moment of the ongoing regional food security project, within Southern African Development Community. The study has produced evidence of a lack of appropriate incentives within the traditional agricultural sector under SAP, mainly with regard to the marketing network and buyer of last resort in case of market failure. This includes absence of road facilities, rural shops and respective goods and commodities of interest to the peasantry. The study showed also that it is important to regulate commercialisation of food aid and food import, to ease the market for food crops locally produced. This could enable a gradual integration of rural markets. Conscious that the lack of the above-mentioned incentives may not be the only explanation for the persisting food shortage, I therefore suggest further research on the topic on appropriate incentives for the traditional agricultural sector, given its fragility and vulnerability within the free market economy.