25 July 2003, Rome -- Despite a substantial increase in food production during the first year of peace in almost three decades of war in Angola, over a million people still urgently require food aid, according to a special report published by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission said food aid needs remain high due to increased numbers of refugees and demobilised soldiers. The reduction in internally displaced people is offset by these needy people returning home following the peace agreement in April last year between the Government and UNITA military forces.

Some 1.4 million Angolans - roughly the same as 12 months ago - will require 219 000 metric tonnes of cereals, 24 000 metric tonnes of pulses and smaller quantities of oil, sugar, salt and corn-soya blend to survive until the next harvest.

WFP plans to assist 1.03 million of the most vulnerable Angolans, including returnee and resettled farmers as well as IDPs still sheltering in camps.

Higher cereal production

According to the FAO/WFP report, abundant rains, farmers returning to their land and the distribution of agricultural inputs have led to a 14% increase in cultivated areas, boosting agricultural performance for 2002/2003. This year's cereal production is expected to reach 670 000 tonnes - 23% higher than 2002.

Despite the favourable agricultural output, the report predicts that Angola requires the commercial import of 490 000 tonnes of cereals with an additional 219 000 tonnes of food aid.

The two UN agencies also warn that Angola's "potential to produce food should not divert attention from the immense task of social and economic development still to be accomplished."

More than 70% of WFP's current activities in Angola are geared towards recovery - a dramatic shift since last January, when 62% of the beneficiaries were assisted through emergency programmes.

Encouragingly, the report concludes that the combined effects of Angola's agricultural potential and the return of farmers to their land are set to improve the food situation rapidly - if favourable climatic conditions remain.

"It is possible and probable that, in the near future, Angola will no longer need food assistance from abroad and will even be capable of keeping strategic stocks of food for any eventual crisis or natural disaster," said the report.

Erwin Northoff
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53105