We analyze a rice farmer panel data set that was collected in 2007/08 and 2011 in Mozambique. We found that in a rainfed area, farmers expanded their cultivated area as local paddy prices increased in parallel with international rice price trends. However, the average yield decreased as the farmers were approaching to marginal land of their land frontier. To improve yield for further production increases, the production mode must shift from extensification to intensification through the introduction of land-saving technologies, such as irrigation development. A lesson learnt from the Chokwe Irrigation Scheme, the largest scheme of the country, is useful for this aim. A key lesson is that assuring water access is crucially important because timely water application directly increases output and also increases the returns to chemical fertilizer use. In Chokwe, a recent increase in the real price of modern inputs, such as fertilizer and tractors, saw farmers substitute family labor for modern inputs, that is, a return to traditional farming. To recapture the momentum of modernization, our analyses suggest that training and market access are important. Those farmers who received a training program did not give up using animal traction. Additionally, those who had access to rice buyers, kept using chemical fertilizer.
Keywords: rice farming, Mozambique, irrigation, modern inputs, rice production training