Why Mozambique?

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The focus of ACES is on Mozambique because it typifies the challenge of managing woodlands for the benefit of the rural poor. Furthermore, relatively good governance allows for critical, informed debate and policymaking, thus maximising our impact. Mozambique still has an extensive woodland resource (70% of the land cover; 55 M ha), albeit with high deforestation (0.2-1.7%/yr, Marzoli 2007) and degradation rates (2-3%/yr, Ryan et al. 2012). Mozambicans are predominantly agrarian, with ~14 M people cultivating ~5.5 M ha (PEDSA 2011). The country is extremely poor by any standard (184/187 in the UNDP 2001 human development index, 54% poverty incidence), particularly in rural areas, where for example, 64% of agricultural households are consumption poor and 87% are asset poor (Jones and Tarp 2012). Recent economic growth has been rapid, but poverty rates are not currently decreasing (PARP 2011). Inequality remains high (Gini Index 0.45) and social unrest is increasing (Jones and Tarp 2012). Agricultural intensification is seen as the route to rural development and decreasing poverty (PARP 2011), but has proved elusive. Currently there are around 400 large commercial farms producing sugar cane, sorghum, tobacco, cotton, tea, citrus and livestock, comprising only 5% of national agricultural production (PEDSA 2011). However, the potential is high and change imminent; the Ministry of Agriculture recently indicated the intention to allocate 5.8 M ha to grow soya in northern and central Mozambique under the ProSavana project (Clements & Mançano 2012).

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