Angola is on the southern part of the west coast of Africa, and has a population of 24.4 million of which 38% live in rural areas and 52% are women. It occupies an area of 1.25 million km2 and enjoys an excellent climate and abundant water resources that support the production of almost all kinds of cereals, fruits and vegetables.
Large areas are given over to pasture for livestock production and the convergence of the streams of Benguela and the Gulf of Guinea facilitate the growth of plankton and a wide variety of fish stocks of high commercial value along a 1,650 km coastline. The country’s inland waters are conducive to the development of aquaculture.
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Certificate of Merit
The agriculture and fisheries sectors have gradually increased their contribution to GDP, from 8% in 2008 to 12% in 2014 and they meet part of the demand for food consumed domestically, particularly the produce of family farms and traditional and semi-industrial fishing. The growth of production in agriculture, livestock and fisheries, complemented by food imports, enabled Angola to make significant advances in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the years following the signing of the peace agreement in 2002.
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics show that from 1990 to 2015 the number of undernourished people in Angola fell from 6.8 million to 3.2 million. By more than halving the number of people suffering from hunger, Angola successfully achieved the Millennium and the World Food Summit goals, for which it was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the FAO.
The policy of the Angolan government has led to improvements in the conditions of populations who can now travel safely and quickly to any part of the country using a range of transport means. Furthermore, most children today have access to schools and young people have access to universities. In 2002 the number of university students was 10,000, while today there are about 250,000 in the many universities that have been created since then.
National Development Plan 2013-2017
Because of heavy economic dependence on oil, the Government devised a National Development Plan for 2013-2017, with the fight against hunger and poverty being established as a top priority for the creation of a more prosperous society and social justice. To this end it was considered essential to diversify the economy and concentrate efforts on the non-oil sector to ensure more rapid growth than in the oil sector, reduce dependency and move towards sustainable development.
The development of the agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors, beyond contributing to lower dependence on oil, will enable increased employment, lower migration to the cities, generate income and replace food imports, with positive impacts on trade balance. Although production has increased in recent years, it is still insufficient to meet domestic demand, so the foreign market is still required to cover this deficit, in particular with regard to cereals and meat. Angola is self-sufficient in tubers (cassava and sweet potato).
Pillars of Angolan agrarian policy: access to land, knowledge, credit, markets and agricultural insurance
Immediately after the start of the Angolan peace process, the Government started to focus attention on the return of displaced populations to their areas of origin and on providing them with the means to resume production and food self-sufficiency. It then focused on recovering the economic and social infrastructure to address the difficulties still faced by a large part of the population. To this end it mobilized the private sector and social partners to guarantee the success of these initiatives.
Under its powers, the State defines agricultural and fisheries policies, rehabilitates infrastructure, such as roads and irrigation canals, reorganizes the work of research centres, manages development and training and facilitates credit conditions. These areas of activity have revealed the lack of qualified and experienced personnel to cover the national territory and financial resources for the construction of the missing infrastructure and the provision of more substantial support to the productive sector, in particular to small producers who represent the majority of the rural labour force and are responsible for the bulk of food production.
Although the agreed priority of the National Development Plan is to combat food and nutritional insecurity and poverty, increased support for the productive and social sectors and the sharp drop in oil prices may affect some of the planned initiatives.
Angola is a country with a high percentage of young people who play an important role in the modernization of agriculture, because their education will promote the use of more modern instruments and mechanized farming processes. There have been positive experiences in this regard, particularly in the province of Kwanza Sul, with the integration of young people who, on completion of their courses, are given land, mechanical resources and access to credit for the development of their units.
Furthermore, the extension of school canteens throughout the country, with the intention that they be supplied with local produce, will provide an additional stimulus for family farmers.
The Angolan private sector has undertaken laudable initiatives through investments in the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the areas of processing, distribution and marketing. Likewise, public-private partnerships have been created to intensify large-scale agricultural production of basic food crops, to achieve food security through capital-intensive processes and higher levels of production and productivity.
Unused and less productive land has been targeted for investment in the production of sugar, ethanol and energy, given the high sugar deficit in the domestic market and the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable and have a limited lifespan. This type of investment must adhere to the standards set by the Angolan authorities in that they must not compete with food producers and must comply with the environment and rights of traditional farmers.
The recent approval of the New Investment Law, with various types of incentives and the elimination of bureaucracy in the approval of projects, shows the Government's interest in creating an institutional environment conducive to foreign private investment in the fields of agricultural, livestock and fisheries production. The partnerships targeted by the law aim to address the lack of capital and know-how and achieve higher productivity levels.
Collaboration with UN agencies
Angola has benefited from collaboration with UN agencies, in particular the FAO, IFAD and WFP, through institutional assistance projects and support in the areas of policy, statistical organization, micro credit, aquaculture mapping, mitigation of climate change, promotion of the role of women, access to markets, field schools and other areas.
Sustainable development after 2015 is on the agenda, and environmental issues are addressed so as to ensure that future generations continue to have permanent access to food of sufficient quantity and quality. Agriculture and fisheries play an important role to the extent that they depend on the climate, while the climate, in turn, benefits from responsible and sustainable use of agricultural and forest resources.
The climate changes recorded all over the globe have recently started to become evident in Angola, particularly in the southern regions. Research centres, in collaboration with specialized international organizations, are studying suitable responses for the mitigation of the effects and the government has taken emergency measures to minimize the impact of these changes on living standards.
Creating a more prosperous and socially just society
There is still much work to be undertaken to enable the enormous potential offered by the land and sea to be harnessed to achieve food and nutrition security. Angola may, in the future, recover its role as an exporter of agricultural products, as it was in the past. To achieve this noble goal it is imperative to enhance the allocation of financial resources to these sectors, in line with the commitment made in the Maputo Summit, to ensure that investments generate significant increases in productivity.
By Carlos Amaral,
Angolan Deputy Representative to FAO, IFAD and WPF, in Rome
This article was originally published in CCEG Social Value & Intangibles Review