Governance, natural resources and local development in Mozambique
Massuanganhe, Israel Jacob
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The role that agriculture should play in economic development has been recognised for years. In recent years, concern has been expressed over rising agricultural and food prices. The world market prices for major food commodities have risen sharply to historic highs of more than 60 percent above levels just two years ago. Many factors have contributed to the rise in food commodity prices. Some factors reflect trends of slower growth in production and more rapid growth in demand that have contributed to a tightening of world balances of grains and oilseeds over the last decade. Other factors that have added to global food commodity price inflation include the declining value of the US dollar, rising energy prices, increasing agricultural costs of production, growing foreign exchange holdings by major food-importing countries, and policies adopted recently by some exporting and importing countries to mitigate their own food price inflation (Trostle, 2008). Mozambique has a vast extension of land and diversity of natural resources. Resources are inadequately used, the rural income continues to fall, and poverty is increasing. The rural standard of living has been deteriorating year by year. To date, estimations reveal that between 60 and 80 percent of cultivated land in all the provinces is concentrated in areas between 0.2 and 1 ha. For a sample of 192 farmers, using a translog stochastic production frontier like that of Bravo-Ureta and Pinheiro (1993), who estimated a Cobb-Douglas total value product frontier for analysis purposes, the study found that the average economic efficiency (EE), technical efficiency (TE) and allocative efficiency (AE) for the sample were 11.6%, 83.0% and 13.7% respectively. These results suggest that there is considerable room to maximise resource usage and increase agricultural output without additional input and given the existing technology. The adoption of new technologies designed to enhance farm output and income has received particular attention as a means to accelerate economic development. However, output growth is not only determined by technological innovations, but also by the efficiency with which available technologies are used in the absence of inefficiency factors. As Bravo-Ureta and Pinheiro (1993) noted, the evidence presented in this study suggests that there is much room for improving the efficiency of natural resource management in general. The results based on frontier methodology are generally consistent with the notion that local actors play an important role in the management of local resources; consequently, public investments designed to enhance human and social capital at local level can be expected to generate additional skills and output even in the absence of new technologies. The participation of citizens in all stages is crucial. It is recognised that qualitative variables have influence and potential importance in efficiency. Governance is considered within the framework of power, process and practice and how these have shaped peasant access to and control and use of natural resources. Over the years, state visions of appropriate agriculture development have largely been extended to the peasant sector through a centrally directed structure and process. Pioneering efforts at decentralising entrustments over the use and management of resources to the peasant communities have largely resulted in recentralisation at the district level, where such efforts are still practised in the trickle-down mode. This is in part because the policy thrust seeking to empower the peasant communities is supply-led, and thus defined according to the terms and processes of external agents, including funders and central governments. The research found that by improving institutions’, citizens’ and communities’ capacity to address local governance and decision-making through prominent, decentralised natural resources management policies, they could participate more effectively in local development, gain experience in democratic processes, and hold local officials responsible for their decisions. The study concluded that natural resources play a strategic role in rural economies both as a potential source of long-term development and as the essential contributor to sustained food security. Access by the poor to natural resources (land, forests, water, fisheries, pastures, etc.) is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. Many rural communities are dependent on natural resources in one way or another. Decentralising natural resource management and using local decision-making power is critical to improve the revenue generation of citizens and local authorities. Local representative bodies need power over the resources that affect rural sustainable livelihoods in order to become legitimate actors around which civic organisations and citizens rally for justice, sustainable livelihoods and economic improvement. Decentralising natural resource management (NRM) can give local governments allocative powers over lucrative opportunities, both of which can help build local government legitimacy. In short, local development can emerge.