For the past decade, Mozambique has experienced wide-reaching legal reforms and unprecedented economic growth. Despite these gains, the country remains dependent on natural resource use and extraction, limiting its capacity to reduce poverty. Over half of the population is poor and more than 70 percent live in rural areas while relying on subsistence agriculture.

At the end of the civil war in 1992, the government of Mozambique created a legal framework to protect land rights and encourage rural investment. The resulting Land Law is considered one of the world’s most progressive.  While the State owns all land, the law grants communities perpetual use rights to land. This right is known as a DUAT (based on its Portuguese acronym). The law also enables investors to acquire 50-year renewable rights. If the land they wish to invest in is held under a DUAT, the investors must first conduct community consultations, and receive government approval for land exploitation plans.

Investor-community negotiations can lead to mutually beneficial arrangements for land use and development, but implementation of the law has been uneven. Many rural residents are unaware of their rights, or lack financial and technical support to assert those rights. Local governments lack the capacity they need to implement the law. Both local officials and investors sometimes fail to recognize the extent of community claims.

Mozambique

Read more about Mozambique

Over the last two years, the government of Mozambique has approved more than 10 new agribusiness development projects, the largest of which awarded 10 million hectares to a consortium of foreign investors. While such investments can promote rural development, in several deals communities have alleged that they were not consulted. Such cases have sometimes led to disputes and even to resettlement and loss of community livelihoods. 
 
Such problems can exacerbate Mozambique's generally low agricultural productivity. Mozambique’s agricultural sector is primarily comprised of small, subsistence farmers with limited access to infrastructure and inputs. Most farmers rely on traditional farming methods, rain-fed irrigation, and unimproved seeds. With low productivity, the rural poor have little to buffer them from food insecurity in times of scarcity.
 
Seeking to address land-related issues, the government has introduced tighter policies for investors.  Further, with funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation, it is implementing a land tenure regularization program. By 2012, the program had prepared DUATs (titles for the right to use and benefit from land) for 19,356 rural land parcels. The government is also working to implement the Land Law, and identify gaps in the legal framework for land, a process that includes public outreach and dispute resolution.

Mozambique infographic

Total population 23,929,708
Rural population / rural poverty rate 16,459,906/56.90%
Share of women in agriculture 89.90%
Urban population / urban poverty rate 7,469,802/49.60%
Internally displaced People N/A
Total land area / Agricultural land as % of total 786,380/62.82%
Protected areas (as % of total land) 15.83%
Forested land (as % of total) 49.35%
Annual deforestation rate -0.53%
Land rights and access rating 0.647
Time required to register property (days) 42
Women's ownership rights 0.5
Large-scale land holdings 2,372,823
GDP per capita (current USD) 533
Agriculture as % of GDP 29.80%
Natural resource income as % of GDP 7.18%
Major natural resources coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower, tantalum
Tourism as share of GDP 0.45%

Sources