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IRRI in Mozambique

Rice cultivation has been practiced in Mozambique for more than 500 years. It is mainly done in lowland rainfed ecologies, where farmers follow traditional management practices.

Rice is one of the major food crops in Mozambique, along with maize, wheat, and sorghum. However, rice consumption has increased rapidly in recent years, from 86,000 metric tons in 1990 to 519,000 metric tons in 2010, at an annual growth rate of 8.6%. This shift in consumer preference, like other African countries, is attributed to urbanization, better income and rice’s convenience in preparation.

IRRI accompanied Mozambique in its initiatives to upgrade the rice agri-food systems in the country and build the capacity to expand and sustain its rice industry. Since 2006, and in collaboration between IRRI and Mozambique, high priority was given to promoting and accelerating exchange of rice information and personnel, research on rice and rice-based farming systems, integrated natural resource management and human capacity building including testing of machinery for small-scale farming, and the formal academic training and specialized non-degree training of Mozambican scientists, as well as the development of Mozambique Rice Knowledge Bank.

Today, IRRI has identified different research and development focus provinces in Mozambique: Maputo (Umbeluzi and Matutuine research stations) and Gaza (Chokwe and Xai Xai research stations) for irrigated ecosystem and Zambezia (Namacura and Mucelo research stations) for rainfed ecology. The IRRI Mozambique office also serves as one of IRRI’s country offices in Africa, strengthening the country’s strategic role in ensuring food and nutrition security in the region and beyond.

Key achievements in Mozambique

Breeding new rice varieties tailored for Mozambique

Since 2006, IRRI has introduced more than 6,000 breeding lines of rice for irrigated and rainfed ecosystems into Mozambique to evaluate their performance locally and select the best ones for the country. IRRI has made significant progress in Mozambique, releasing two stress-tolerant varieties with good grain quality and resistance to different diseases (Blast and BLB), increasing rice yield from 1 t/ha to 3–3.5 t/ha in rainfed conditions.

IRRI has been supporting the development of the rice seed system in Central and Southern Mozambique, particularly with the support of the PROIRRI project, funded by the World Bank. IRRI provided foundation seed of improved varieties to seed growers’ associations, training farmers on seed production and handling, popularizing new varieties through establishing demonstration plots, organizing farmer field days, and sharing tours.

As part of the JICA- supported project on seed systems development, seed technicians, junior researchers, and seed inspectors from the national program were trained at IRRI HQ and PhilRice on quality rice seed production and extension methods. IRRI also trained more than 25 staff from the Agriculture Research Institute of Mozambique (Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique; IIAM) and Eduard Mondlane University at HQ for short degree training on different rice research aspects including plant breeding, rice post production to Market, rice research to production, rice diseases, long season (6 months) extension training, Rice Knowledge Bank, on Job training, rice production techniques for researchers, rice production techniques for technicians, and rice data management. IRRI also is sponsoring 3 MSc and 2 PhD students from the local program.

Ensuring quality seeds for farmers

In partnership with IIAM, IRRI Mozambique assists in purifying seed and multiplying the seed of newly released rice varieties in the country. Each year, at least three metric tons of purified, breeder and foundation seeds are produced and made available for multiplication by IIAM and ultimately distributed to the farmers.

Introducing better management practices

IRRI establishes rice plots across south and central Mozambique (Maputo, Gaza, Sofala and Zambezia provinces) to demonstrate best management practices to the farmers, ranging from land preparation to harvest. Post-harvest technologies like small-scale mechanization, including pedal and mechanical threshers, and super bags for seed storage were showcased to enhance production efficiency and quality.

Building public and private partnerships

IRRI is actively forging partnerships between public and local private companies and other organizations in Mozambique for the benefit of smallholder farmers and consumers . IRRI is mainly involved in Partnership with IIAM and different departments at the Ministry of Agriculture; Provincial Agriculture department; Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo; University of Lisbon in Portugal and Private rice millers.