A new project to boost agricultural productivity, improve food and nutrition security and build the resilience of at least 218 000 rural families in Angola who are vulnerable to climate shocks was announced by the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD) on 15 July. In Angola, 50% of poor people live in rural areas and mostly depend on subsistence agriculture, with this sector employing 44% of the population and contributing 5.5% to the country’s GDP.
Robson Mutandi, country director for Angola at IFAD, says improving small-scale agricultural production, productivity and commercialisation is vital to reducing poverty and improving food security in the rural areas. He says the government of Angola has implemented several development projects to revitalise the economy, however more needs to be done to boost the agriculture sector and provide sustainable livelihoods to vulnerable poor people in rural areas.
“The country also has a large food import bill of US$583 million for the first quarter of 2019 and coupled with the decline in oil revenues in 2015-2016 and rising food costs, these factors have impelled the government to start promoting economic diversification, which with the COVID-19 pandemic are more important than ever. If they want to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security and reduce Angola’s food import bill, the government must invest massively in the agriculture sector,” says the country director.
Particular attention to commercialising family farming on a sustainable basis is critical for the prosperity of Angola. The financing agreement for the Smallholder Resilience Enhancement Project (SREP) was signed on 15 July in Rome by Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of IFAD, and Maria de Fátima Monteiro Jardim, ambassador of the Republic of Angola to Italy and permanent representative.
According to Mutandi, this $150 million project will particularly target young people and women who are vulnerable to climate shocks, aiming to help them to recover and to build their resilience. He says it will promote sustainable practices such as the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties, adaptation of cropping calendars and rainwater harvesting, as well as invest in small-scale irrigation, increased access to water and climate-resilient farming practices.
SREP will be implemented in seven provinces in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid agroecological zones including Bengo, Zaire, Uige and Cuanza Norte in the north and Benguela, Cunene and Namibe in the south. It will strengthen the national private sector’s capacity to improve delivery of advisory and climate information services tailored to family farmers’ needs.
“Funding includes a $29.8 million loan from IFAD, co-financing from the Agence Française de Développement providing $42 million and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa providing $40 million. The government of Angola is providing $10 million with a further $6.5 million contributed by beneficiaries themselves and the financing gap of $21.7 million will come from IFAD resources or from other development partners identified during the implementation,” says the country director.
Mutandi says livelihood development, improved nutrition and resilience are critical areas for Angola’s food security and contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals including no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, climate action and life on land which are SDGs 1, 2, 5, 13 and 15. He says since 1990, IFAD has invested $111.8 million in eight rural development programmes and projects in Angola worth almost $284.6 million which have directly benefited 486 600 rural families.
“SREP will build the capacity of small family farmers in production and processing through farmer field schools so they can become more productive with the project increasing their access to markets by linking them to different private sector actors in value chains. Appropriate rural infrastructure will be put in place to support market-oriented production and to enable efficient delivery of surplus production from family farms to markets allowing small-scale farmers to sell more and improve their livelihoods,” says the country director.