Whether for profit or social motives - and often both - an increasing number of investors are targeting opportunities in African agriculture. At the same time innovative approaches for deploying aid to support farming businesses linked to smallholders are emerging. This blog provides a snapshot of who is doing what, where and how.

19 July 2012

Mining drives agricultural development in Mozambique

The Government of Mozambique, the British Government, Rio Tinto and AgDevCo have teamed up to assist thousands of small farmers who live in the vicinity of mines in Moatize, central Mozambique, to boost their crop yields for commercial food production.

The first of its kind in Mozambique, the new agreement will bring access to private investment for smallholder farmers who would otherwise struggle to get the investment they need to thrive.

Eric Finlayson (Rio Tinto), Andrew Mitchell (Secretary of State, DFID), Keith Palmer (Chairman, AgDevCo) and Daniel Clemente (PS Agriculture, Govt Mozambique)
 Investment in the mining sector is resulting in new infrastructure links – roads, rail and ports – being built and an increase in the local population. This provides an opportunity for small farmers in terms of a larger local market for their produce and improved transport links opening up new potential markets. However many small farmers lack the access to affordable capital to develop their farms despite being highly suitable for a wide range of crops and livestock.
Andrew Mitchell, Britain’s International Development Secretary, said: “Mozambique is at a crossroads. For the first time, its enormous natural resources could give it the chance to escape poverty for good. Britain will help harness the skills and resources of the private sector to ensure the poorest benefit from the country’s phenomenal potential. This partnership is proving that investing in development is good for business, as well as good for the poor.”

Eric Finlayson, CEO of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique, said: “This initiative, which is part of our wider commitment to support broad-based economic development in Mozambique, will provide a practical boost to farmers and can help the development of Mozambique’s agricultural sector”.

Chris Isaac, Director of Business Development at AgDevCo said: “By working in partnership with the mining sector, we can invest to help local farmers access rapidly growing domestic markets and, from there, expand their businesses to take advantage of export opportunities in the Middle East and Asia”

The memorandum of understanding signed in Tete today, co-signed by Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture, involves initial investments of up to US$500,000 to link local farmers and businesses into the mine’s supply chain by:

• Investing in local businesses and buying local produce: Rio Tinto, AgDevCo and the Ministry of Agriculture will explore how promising small and medium agricultural businesses can supply food to communities living in the Tete mining area. This could result in Rio Tinto offering long-term contracts to local farmers to supply locally grown produce to its mine, helping them to expand and create more jobs. Currently, international firms rely on imported food as very few domestic suppliers are capable of growing enough quality food at a competitive price.

• Irrigating land: Develop sustainable irrigated agriculture and improve livestock and fish farming to increase harvests across Tete province. Support will be targeted towards helping farmers who are resettled as the mine expands.

• Growing new crops: Work with specialist businesses and institutions to create cost-effective and sustainable sources of biodiesel for the mine. As well as providing new sources of income for local farmers, newly irrigated land will boost food production.

Investments will follow the United Nations’ Principles for responsible agricultural investment (PRAI).