The African Development Bank Group’s (AfDB) has authorised a $47.09 million grant to help the Niassa province in Mozambique boost agricultural productivity and agribusiness development by expanding institutional capacity, skills and entrepreneurship. The grant is for the first phase of the Pemba-Lichinga Integrated Development Corridor, a special agro-industrial processing zone (SAPZ).
“The project will pilot improved policy and development coordination between the Niassa province and national departments, especially with the ministry of industry and commerce and the ministry of agriculture and rural development,” the AfDB said via a statement.
“Special agro-industrial processing zones are integrated development initiatives designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity, integrate production, processing, and marketing of selected commodities.”
Agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors will be able to work together in these zones to save transaction costs and share business development services, resulting in enhanced productivity and competitiveness.
SAPZs will attract investments from private agro-industrialists or entrepreneurs to contribute to the economic and social development of rural regions by providing suitable infrastructure (electricity, water, roads, ICT, and so on) to rural areas with high agricultural potential.
A game-changing initiative
“The initiative is in line with the Mozambique National Development Strategy 2015 – 2035, which seeks to improve the living conditions of the population through structural transformation of the economy and expansion and diversification of the production base. It is consistent with the concerted efforts of the international community to support Mozambique to promote inclusive economic growth and peace-building in the north,” the bank added.
The initiative also complements the African Development Bank’s Mozambique Country Strategy Paper 2018 – 2022, which focuses on the northern regions, as well as the bank’s Feed Africa Strategy for agricultural transformation.
Commenting on the board’s approval, Mozambique’s minister of industry and trade, Carlos Mesquita, described the project as a “game-changer” that would transform the economy, promote social inclusion and foster peace by tackling important industry enabling factors such as infrastructure for development.
The project will build on a long list of bank interventions in northern Mozambique to provide infrastructure and unlock the agricultural potential of the host corridor. The most recent of these bank-supported projects are the N13 Cuamba-Muíta and the N14 Montepuez-Ruaca roads linking the provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa.