Angola is emerging from 27 years of civil war that ended with a peace deal in 2002. In 2008, the country held its second-ever parliamentary elections which, though the ruling party’s dominant position was confirmed, were hailed as free and fair by the international community.
The country has seen significant economic growth in recent years thanks to its resources in diamonds and oil. Angola recently surpassed Nigeria as the continent’s biggest oil exporter, and high prices have buoyed government revenues.
Nevertheless, this newfound wealth has not trickled down to the nation’s poorest people, and some rural areas remain isolated by the lack of transport infrastructure and lack of access to markets to buy and sell goods. Landmines are still strewn across areas most affected by the conflict.
Agricultural production is expected to be lower this year than in 2007, due to poor rainfall in some parts of the country. Angola imports about half of its food from abroad to meet its consumption needs.
FAO is supporting the Angolan government through a Technical Cooperation Programme project worth US$500 000. This project is aimed at bolstering an ongoing national food security programme in the provinces of Bié and Huambo, which were severely affected during the war years due to their heavy presence of anti-government fighters.
FAO is helping in the local purchase and distribution of maize and bean seeds to approximately 3000 impoverished farming families, or about 15,000 people. Each family will also receive fertilizers, which with the seed is equivalent to US$165 in support per family.
These funds are essentially a start-up loan, however, to be paid back in kind to the community system of Farmer Field Schools set up throughout these provinces, again with support and technical assistance from FAO. After two seasons, farmers will donate funds to the community pool to purchase agricultural inputs for the next seasons and to contribute to the marketing and sale of the community’s produce.
The projects include training in organic farming methods to improve soil fertility, as well as training of community groups in financial management for their community-based agri-business.
Inputs are being supplied for the September-October planting season, as well as for the dry season planting beginning in March in areas with sufficient water control to have an additional harvest.