Angola moves ahead with new agricultural development strategy

16 August 2011

Lisbon, Portugal, 16 Aug – Angola plans to move ahead with a new agricultural development strategy, making use of its oil exploration resources, amongst others, to increase the contribution of the primary sector in the creation of wealth and employment in the country, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.

Africa Monitor, which is published in Lisbon, said the President José Eduardo dos Santos was the mentor of the idea and is heading a commission recently set up to outline the agricultural development strategy, which involves the minister of State and the head of Angola’s Civil House of the Presidency, Carlos Feijó, agronomist  Carlos Alberto and jurist Ngunu Tiny.

The need for an effort by the State to value the agricultural and agri-industrial sector, has the aim of prioritising the primary sector in the Angolan economy, the newsletter said.

The agricultural drive is also seen as having an additional strategic importance, which will make up for a future reduction in oil reserves.

Amongst the countries that have best persuaded the Angolan authorities to focus on the agricultural sector are China and the United States, whose new ambassador, Christopher McMullen, chose as his first visits to the interior of Angola, the provinces of Benguela, Kwanza Sul and Huambo.

All these provinces have exceptional agricultural capabilities, and this priority was seen as a demonstration of interest by the local agricultural sector, Africa Monitor said.

These two countries have also provided Angola with support to develop agriculture, which in China’s case involves credit lines.

The agricultural sector was the economy’s most dynamic during the period of Portuguese administration, until 1974, and accounted for half the exports and employing 40 percent of the working population, with 6,500 large agricultural companies.

The country was at one time the world’s 3rd largest coffee producer, as well as a significant producer of maize, cotton, sugar cane and sisal.

The need to diversify the economy, in the face of dependence on oil and diamond production has been recognised by the Angolan authorities and Angola’s agricultural potential is currently considered to be under-used or un-used.

One of the measures being studied by the commission, said Africa Monitor, is the legal takeover of unused farms by the State.

A recent study concluded that just 1 percent of the 2,000 farms in Benguela province appropriated by private owners in the last few years have been appropriately used.

The strengthening of the sector is also seen as a way of dealing with social and economic problems such as unemployment and meeting the basic needs of the population, ensuring food security and fairer distribution of the country’s wealth.

Amongst the problems agricultural development has faced the most notable is the lack of energy sources, which has affected the promising agri-industrial development Aldeia Nova (Wako Kungo), as well as poor facilities for distributing products. (macauhub)