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[MAPUTO] Mozambique aims to lead a green revolution in sub-Saharan Africa by using science to improve crop varieties, and by boosting innovation.

Opening the conference Biotechnology, Breeding and Seed Systems for African Crops in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday (26 March), Mozambique's Minister of Science and Technology declared that a green revolution is needed for development in the region.

"Incorporating science in agriculture in Mozambique is key to the modernisation of the economy and to provide jobs in rural and urban areas. This is why science improves the lives of people," said Venancio Massingue.

He said his country’s bid to bring about a green revolution would only be possible if scientists breed high-yielding varieties of crops to relieve hunger in rural areas.

Mozambique has set aside over US$30 million dollars for seed and fertiliser distribution, and the government is looking for private sector partnerships to widen the seed programme.

Last week, Mozambican president Armando Guebuza declared that his government is striving toward a green revolution to improve and diversify agriculture and increase food production.

Calisto Bias, director of the Mozambique National Institute of Agricultural Research, said research plays an important role in the development and promotion of new agricultural products.

"The use of improved seeds is quite small in Mozambique and Africa in general. Seed companies always complain about the small market compared to the cost of production," said Bias.

Rajiv Shah, director of Agricultural Development and Financial Services at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told SciDev.Net that some of the US$150 million invested in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa programme will be used to improve seeds and soil health in Africa (see Partnership forged to spur Africa's green revolution).