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SA farmer makes it in Mozambique
Fri, 04 Feb 2011 14:40
By Nelly Nyagah

Howard Blight, CEO of Macs-In-Moz Limitada

Macs-In-Moz Limitada's orchard in Chimoio. The company plans to expand production.

The huge potential in Mozambique's agriculture sector has attracted SA farmers seeking locations that can offer more land, water affordable labour and profits.

Investment opportunities in Mozambique include reviving and modernising dormant agricultural businesses that were once very lucrative. Pictures provided by Macs-In-Moz Limitada

A lot of farmers have left South Africa to expand their production in other African countries. In Mozambique, fruits and macadamia nuts farmer Howard Blight reveals the big incentives he is finding in a country that is undergoing a 'green revolution' aimed at diversifying agriculture and increasing food production. 

Venturing into Mozambique...

After considerable research and numerous trips to Monica province, I ended up 40km south west of Chimoio in the region of Sussendenga. Chimoio, with a population of 256 000, is the fifth largest city in Mozambique. I was looking to buy land to grow macadamia nuts. The province has the ideal climatic conditions for the production of sub-tropical fruits and nuts. Three years on, our Mozambiquen-registered company, Macs-In-Moz Limitada, has established orchards on 300 hectares of land and developed a nursery for bananas, litchis, macadamias and citrus trees. We will plant the first batch of these soon.

Great prospects…

Only 10% of Mozambique's arable land is being farmed, though it has four times more, high potential agricultural territory than South Africa. Macs-In-Moz immediate expansion plans include developing an area of up to 1500 hectares of trees through irrigation. Orchards on 250 hectares are also on the cards. Profitability is the main reason for the exodus of South African farmers and we are seeking opportunities that can maximise our bottom line. For instance, the Sainsbury Trust, which has a fresh vegetable project close to our farm in Chimoio, has contracted us to grow 10 hectares of beans this year. Yield from another 20 hectares of paprika will be supplied to a company in South Africa.

Existing opportunities…

There are many dormant agricultural businesses that were once flourishing. For example there are many old - 30 to 40 years - avocado, litchi, mango and citrus trees still growing in and around Chimoio and Sussendenga. Mozambique was quite a significant exporter of avocados in the 1960s and 1970s. Huge citrus pack houses stand derelict with all the machinery still in the buildings. Substantial investment is required to revamp such operations.

Acquiring farming land…

A foreigner can register a company in Mozambique and then apply for a land concession from the government after obtaining investment authorisation from the Investment Promotion Centre (Centro de Promoção de Investimentos - CPI). This is by far the easiest and quickest way to acquire a land concession with a valid land usage title document known officially as DUAT (Direito de uso e Aproveitamento de Terra). A DUAT is similar to the South African Notarial Deed of Lease. Another option would be to buy a property from a previous owner. Mozambican law does not allow the sale of land but it is possible to sell the infrastructure on the land. Therefore a potential seller would add the value of the land when he sells the infrastructure. It is recommended that one carries out thorough due diligence in this process and avoid corrupt individuals. I found the services of professional consultants extremely valuable because even though there are attractive opportunities, the setting up procedures can be quite lengthy and tedious. A credible consultant can speed up the processes considerably.

Mozambique’s agriculture sector…

The agriculture sector in Mozambique is a magnet for investors due to the vast opportunities it offers, such as the availability of land, water and affordable labour. These are big incentives for South African farmers who are looking for destinations to expand. South Africa has one of the most developped agricultural sectors and Mozambique is already benefitting from the expertise of the South African farmers here.