UN fund supports Angolan smallholders

Training in farming practices and efficient water use will come as part of a $40m program designed to help aid the West African nation recover from civil war.

Farmer in gabela kwanza sul province angola dries coffee in a fi

Training in farming practices and efficient water use will come as part of a $40m program designed to help aid the West African nation recover from civil war.  

The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development has announced a $38.2 million program to support smallholder farmers in Angola that it says will assist 60,000 rural households.

IFAD said that it would extend a $28.8 million loan to support the Smallholder Agriculture Development and Commercialization Project, with the Angolan government providing an additional $8.2 million and the remaining $1.1 million coming from the beneficiaries themselves.

Focused on the provinces of Cuanza Sul and Huila, the program will provide farmers with access to training and technology designed to increase productivity and strengthen marketing operations. The training will focus on women and young people, according to the release, and aim to increase their capacity in areas including irrigation and efficient water use, perishable product storage and processing.

“Support will be provided to farmers’ organizations to promote climate resilient agriculture for key priority food and horticultural crops, while working to promote investments aimed at reducing post-harvest losses and strengthening market linkages,” IFAD said.

Although agriculture accounts for 85 percent of employment in Angola, according to the CIA Factbook, the sector generates just 10.2 percent of national GDP, with key crops including bananas, sugar, corn and others. In June, the USDA highlighted that although Angola does not produce wheat, the recent addition of wheat milling capacity is making the country a potential market for US exports.

“With the recent decline and instability in the price of petroleum – Angola’s primary source of revenue – the government of Angola has been pushing for economic diversification, including support for agro-processing development,” USDA analysts wrote. “The country’s wheat milling capacity is expected to grow over the next several years, with the opening of two mills and increased production at two existing mills.”

As IFAD points out in its statement, Angola’s 26-year civil war, which ended in 2002, led to a reduction in agricultural productivity and forced many smallholder farmers to switch from producing for local markets to subsistence agriculture.

While the conflict and its aftermath have likely kept many investors far from Angola’s agricultural sector, it is on the radar of at least one iconic investor.

“Angola used to export food and then had a long civil war,” Jim Rogers told Agri Investor a 2014 interview. “It is a huge country with not many people where land is cheap and permissions are good, so I am sure there are now spectacular opportunities for investment there.”