Mozambique projects to create 4 000 jobs
Maputo - Mozambique's government said on Wednesday it has approved two investment projects in forestry and agriculture worth $660m that will create around 4 000 jobs.
Two companies will run plantations in central Mozambique and sugar and cotton fields in the northwest in separate projects covering 90 000ha, according to government spokesperson Henrique Banze.
"The government discussed and approved a 70 000ha forestry concession to be explored by IFLOMA (Manica Forestry Industries) in Sofala province," Banze said.
The $450m project in the central province of Sofala will produce timber, paper and other products over a 30-year period. A South African company owns the majority share in IFLOMA, while 20% belongs to the Mozambican state.
A second project in coal-rich Tete province in the northwest will see an investment of $210m over 10 years.
"This agriculture project will consist of the production of sugar cane, sugar, cotton and food on 20 000ha," said Banze. It will be run by Mozambican company Episteme.
The two projects will create around 4 000 jobs, mainly for Mozambicans.
In October, the government approved a $100m forestry project in central Mozambique - the first large project approved since December 2009.
The southern African country has 36 million hectares of arable land, of which 5.6 million hectares is currently planted with crops. Around 80% of its 23 million people are small farmers.
Mozambique has been a prime site for land grabs in Africa, a practice in which multinational companies are granted vast tracts of land to the detriment of the livelihoods of local populations.
A 2010 World Bank report found the country had signed deals for 2.7 million hectares of land between 2004 - 2008, which should have expanded its farmland by more than 50%.
A 2009 audit found that more than half of those investments were lagging in production - one third had not even started farming, the Bank said.