Security in Angola improves food production grows but challenges remain – UN

A joint assessment mission from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that the area planted with crops was about 2.91 million hectares, an increase of 15 per cent over last year. But the cultivated acreage reflects only a very small amount – 4.8 per cent – of the potentially cultivable land. Cereal production in 2003-04, including milled rice, is estimated at 713,000 tons, more than 9 per cent higher than last year and 27 per cent above the previous five-year average, mainly from increased areas under cultivation. The average number of people needing food aid per month will be about 1.12 million, compared to 1.4 million last year, the report says. Many vulnerable people are once again cultivating their fields and producing food even though many lost their assets as a consequence of the war that tore the potentially rich country apart. Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest oil exporter. In contrast, the agricultural sector employs some two-thirds of the working population but contributes only 6 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) as compared with 18 per cent in 1990. The increase in oil production could help boost real GDP growth to 11.3 per cent in 2004 or 13.7 per cent in 2005, but this would probably have only limited or even a negative effect on the non-oil sector. The predominance of oil in the economy induces such an appreciation of the local currency that it may eventually reduce the competitiveness of domestic production vis-à-vis imports. Since April 2002, when a ceasefire agreement was signed between the government and the rebel Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in neighbouring countries have been returning to their homes. Circulation within the country has become easier but people must still cope daily with landmines, and removing them is one of Angola’s top priorities. Furthermore, the extremely poor condition of the roads is seriously hindering market activities, increased access to food or the expansion of income-generating activities, particularly in the countryside.

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