FAO in Mozambique

Mozambique at a glance

Mozambique became independent in 1975. Shortly after, the country suffered a civil war that lasted 16 years until the Peace Agreement was signed in 1992. Since then, it has enjoyed significant economic growth, with an annual GDP growth rate of over 7.5% in recent years.

Sectors relevant to FAO:

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries continue to play an important role in the Mozambican economy. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), in 2014, the sector contributed 23,4% to GDP.

Agriculture remains the main economic activity in Mozambique. Smallholder farmers account for the vast majority of this sector's production, with some 3.2 million smallholder farmers accounting for 95% of the country's agricultural production. Roughly 400 commercial farmers produce the remaining 5%. Agriculture is practiced on less than 10% of the arable land and largely in flood- and drought-prone areas. Difficult access to credit and markets, low use of improved inputs and the dominance of rain-fed agriculture make the sector vulnerable to shocks.

Mozambique has a coastline of about 2.800 km, indented with several major rivers (Limpopo, Save, Púngoè, Zambezi and Rovuma) and two important freshwater bodies (the lakes of Cahora Bassa and Nyassa). The main supplier of fish for the country's population is still the artisanal fisheries subsector. According to the Artisanal Fisheries Census 2012, this subsector supports the livelihoods of about 380.000 fishermen who use 39.550 boats, of which only 2-3% are motorized.

The percentage of forested land in Mozambique has rapidly diminished in recent years. This is due to deforestation practices and degradation, especially along the main economic corridors and around urban centres. Although rural communities use forests for their subsistence, the main causes of deforestation and degradation are commercial activities such as intense demand of firewood and charcoal in urban zones, the transformation of forest into large commercial agricultural areas, commercial logging and the development of mining activities.

Mozambique's Land Law (1997) recognizes the rights acquired through customary occupation of land. However, there are still challenges that limit the potential impact of such legislation on the development and improvement of the living conditions of rural populations. Security of land tenure, in its turn, is an important factor for increasing agricultural production and reducing poverty.

The nutrition situation in Mozambique remains precarious, with 43% of children under five suffering from chronic undernutrition. Throughout the last 40 years, the Mozambican diet has not diversified much. This is mainly due to:


  • Low diversity of production
  • Difficult access to nutritious food
  • Little knowledge of nutrition issues 

Maize and cassava, the main food staples, are grown by 80 percent of all Mozambican smallholders and cover over a third of cultivated land. Other important staples are wheat and rice.

Animal production plays a fundamental role in the lives and nutrition of the rural population, particularly poultry and small ruminants. In urban areas, beef and poultry provide more than 80% of the meat supply to formal outlets.

Mozambique is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events such as drought, floods and cyclones. Climate change has a significant impact on livelihoods and food security, particularly among rural populations.

Integrated value chains to add value to agricultural products are still at an incipient stage due to production problems, the quality of the products, lack of functional markets and issues related to market information systems, limited access to financial services and credit. Consequently, the export potential of the country is being underused and the domestic market (mainly in urban areas) is increasingly dominated by fresh and processed produce from the SADC region.