November 28, 2002

Drought in Mozambique affects 587,000 people

Mozambican Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia said in Maputo on Thursday, November 28, that the southern African drought is currently affecting about 587,000 people in Mozambique. He explained that this situation affects about 84,000 hectares where crops have completely failed.

Answering questions in the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Muteia said that a number of measures have been completed while others are still under way, to try and minimise the effects of the drought. He said that some of these measures include the rehabilitation or building of irrigation systems and the distribution of agricultural inputs, such as seeds and tools, for the 2002/03 growing season. In this area, Muteia said that a pilot strategy is the opening of agricultural fairs, with the participation of some companies. There are now 36 fairs functioning in the southern Inhambane and central Manica provinces. He also said that his ministry has launched a cattle vaccination programme countrywide.

To an opposition question as to what the Mozambique Grain Institute (ICM) is doing to help in marketing peasant farmers' surplus crops, Muteia pointed out that this area is not part of his ministry, but falls under the Industry and Trade Ministry. Nonetheless he said that the ICM has marketed about 215,000 tonnes of assorted products this year. He explained that of this quantity, 49,000 tonnes are to be redistributed to the needy population through the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC). Muteia said that Mozambique has drafted a strategic plan to face the drought, counting on the support of the World Food Programme (WFP). (AIM, Maputo)

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