Extract of a study by the The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project led by Digital Green, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Care International and GFRAS.
Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975 after about a decade of colonial war. The transition of power to Mozambicans was all, but smooth. When the Portuguese left Mozambique after independence, the social and economic status of most of the population was very low. For example, illiteracy rates were extremely high, and there were very few Mozambicans with formal education. This trend, unfortunately, continues today with the average rural household head having only four years of formal education as of 2015. The country made ties with and received a lot of economic and military support from the USSR and Eastern Bloc Countries on condition of becoming a socialist country. The one-party state that resulted because of the assistance from the communist bloc of countries sparked protests within Mozambique, resulting in a civil war that erupted a year after independence that ended with the peace accords signed in 1992.
In the process of peace talks, development aid and support started coming from the West in 1989. Prior to this, only emergency food aid had been provided. In 1987, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded that the country adopt a structural adjustment program to liberalize the economy as a condition of their support. Privatization of previously stateowned companies followed and the economy became more market-oriented.
To address the rural poverty so prevalent following independence, Mozambique implemented two poverty reduction strategies, the first from 2001 to 2005 and the second from 2005 to 2009. Since then, Mozambique has drafted and implemented various other agricultural strategy documents, each building on previous ones, such as Revolução Verde (Green Revolution), Strategic Plan for the Development of the Agricultural Sector (PEDSA, for its Portuguese acronym), National Plan for Investment in Agricultural Sector (PNISA, for its Portuguese acronym), Operational Plan for Agricultural Development (PODA, for its Portuguese acronym) and Operational Plan for Agricultural Marketing (POCA, for its Portuguese acronym), just to name a few. These poverty reduction strategies were implemented with the idea that the macro-economic reforms changing a controlled economy to a market-based one would lead to economic growth that would trickle down to the poor and lift them out of poverty. Mozambique has enjoyed solid economic growth since these strategies have been adopted, but how successful these strategies have been for those in rural areas is open for debate.
Unfortunately, after more than two decades of peace, the country has fallen back to armed conflict, and this has had a significantly negative effect on the economy since 2013. Traffic on the main highway, Estrada Nacional #1, linking Maputo to the rest of the country, and a few other highways were only passable twice a day with escorts provide by the army. Also, during this resurgence of violence, many schools were closed and households displaced, especially in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambézia, thus having an impact on economic activities in these areas. In April 2017, the country’s ruling party Mozambique Liberation Party (FRELIMO, for its Portuguese acronym) and Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO, for its Portuguese acronym) agreed to uphold a peace accord indefinitely, so all armed conflict has ceased, thus allowing for the return to normal economic activities and life that was there before the return of armed conflict in 2013. But there are no guarantees that this peace will last and the possibility continues to exist of REMANO taking up arms again.
An additional predicament is that a total of USD $2 billion of debt was hidden from the donor community and the public in general, and was discovered in April 2016 when the government admitted this to the IMF. This action is not only illegal, but has led to donors cutting development funds until the results of an independent audit, that was completed in April 2017, are disclosed. At present the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and many other government institutions are negatively affected by this hidden debt, and as a result have reduced their development activities. This discovery has also led to the Mozambican currency, the meticais, being devalued by 45 percent since the start of this crisis, leading to rampant inflation.