Train to Mozambique starts rolling

After a recent agricultural meeting in Xai-Xai, Mozambique, Agri SA will set up a branch there, dubbed Agri SAMos. Six South Africans living in Mozambique were elected to the committee, which will serve as Agri SA’s “eyes and ears” in the country.

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Mkuze sugar baron and Agri SA representative Charl Senekal said, “They’ll liaise with the Mozambican government on the road ahead and report back to Agri SA.” No chairperson has been elected, and the new affiliate will also take black Mozambican farmers as members.

Nearly 100 South African farmers attended the conference, which was organised by the South African High Commission and the Gaza provincial government to discuss settling South African farmers in Mozambique. “South African farmers are very interested in settling there,” said Senekal.

“Two banks – Barclays International and Standard Bank – showed huge interest in giving financial support to farmers. The profile of a typical South African farmer is a hard-working, well-educated, dedicated family man. The farmers we want to settle in Mozambique will be ambassadors to South Africa and assets to Mozambique’s government.”

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Senekal said Mozambique was an opportunity for farmers wanting to diversify or start anew after losing farms to land redistribution. He said 800 South African farmers are already registered in Mozambique, with another 1 000 due to arrive in the next two to three years. Gaza has set aside over 1 million hectares of agricultural land for South Africans.

“It’s still early days,” said Senekal, adding that Agri SAMos would be liaising with the Mozambican government about what food to produce and which markets to access. Property developer Charles Caywood, who’s been living in Tete for 16 years, advised farmers to do their homework before taking the leap. But, he added, there’s potential in Gaza, which has huge open areas in the Limpopo flood plains and is only 500km from the main markets, as well as an easy shipping port in Maputo.

“Maize, beans and soya will have good local markets, but farmers must hold back their crops until prices rise. There’s also huge potential in rice farming in the Limpopo flats, as Mozambique is a nett importer of rice,” he said.Caywood and his family left South Africa after they lost their tomato and citrus farms in the Messina area in the great drought of 1987 to 1992. His sons, Shaun (31) and Graham (26), are respectively farming red meat and developing a new hunting company. – Robyn Joubert