Prioritizing Angolan Agriculture to Unlock Economic Diversification

Despite its vast arable land and abundant water resources, Angola still imports most of its food. In 2022, according to figures from the National Bank, Angola spent around $3 billion on food imports. In the last five years, however, the Government of Angola has prioritized the agricultural sector and has been promoting agribusiness in view of reducing its reliance on external markets for food supply.

One such initiative is the Angola Commercial Agriculture Development Project (PDAC), co-financed by the World Bank and the French Development Agency. The project aims to incentivize bank lending to agriculture by helping producers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) prepare and finance agriculture investments, providing the needed technical assistance, grants, and de-risking through partial credit guarantees. The support is helping the transition from subsistence to a more market-oriented, competitive agriculture sector in the country.

During our tour of the provinces of Malanje, Kwanza Sul, and Kwanza Norte, we visited five business initiatives supported by PDAC and spoke with the beneficiaries to learn about their achievements. These included three large-scale corn farms, a coffee-roasting factory, and a poultry farm.  

The first stop – Fazenda Media 31, Province of Kwanza Sul

Situated in Waku-Kungo, 430 km from Luanda, this farm cultivates maize, soybeans, beans, and potatoes and is overseen by Antonio da Costa, also known as Cafuringa. As a professional with over three decades of experience in farm management, Cafuringa perceives himself as being on the cusp of fulfilling his aspiration to emerge as a prominent cereal producer in Angola. Media 31 Farm has benefited from technical support from PDAC and agricultural machinery and equipment, such as a generator, a tractor, and a harvester. These have significantly bolstered the farm’s productivity. The farm has adopted a rotational cultivation technique that will enable year-round crop cultivation, supported by a small dam for continuous irrigation. Anticipating a corn yield ranging from 5 to 5.5 tons per hectare in the ongoing season, Cafuringa is optimistic about the farm’s future prospects.

“I have witnessed significant transformations facilitated by the assistance of PDAC. Previously, I operated under the belief that my land holdings were substantial due to my production of 10 hectares each of beans, corn, and soybeans. We have now adopted a rotational cultivation method encompassing the full 72 hectares of our land. Witnessing simultaneous operations, such as one tractor tilling the soil while another sows the seeds, is truly remarkable. I am deeply appreciative of PDAC for their invaluable support.” – Antonio da Costa.

Fazenda Media 31 sells to large commercial supermarkets, retail vendors from Luanda, and the most lucrative avenue —  major open markets in Luanda. As productivity rises, logistical challenges have emerged in transporting the increased output to distant markets.

The Second Stop – “Gabela Coffee” a story of a man’s dream and resilience, Province of Kwanza Sul

Jose Manuel Ventura, a 66-year-old entrepreneur and owner of a small coffee roasting factory in Sumbe, is dedicated to revitalizing Angola’s coffee industry and preserving its rich heritage. Until 1973, coffee was Angola’s primary gross domestic product, and it was renowned for its premium coffee beans, but it has experienced a decline in production stemming from the prolonged civil war and the dominance of the oil sector. However, with Jose’s unwavering commitment and vision, there is optimism for a revival of the coffee sector. Drawing on generations of family experience in coffee cultivation, he retired from a career in civil service to rekindle his passion for coffee production. Immersed in every aspect of the coffee-making process, from cultivation to brewing, he started with a modest coffee roasting machine capable of producing up to 10 kg daily. Jose then introduced his coffee at national fairs, initially facing skepticism as consumers favored more familiar and popular brands of coffee. Through perseverance and dedication, his coffee brand, Café Gabela, gained recognition and popularity and is now available in major supermarkets nationwide.

To secure the future of his company and employees, Jose had to increase coffee production beyond 10 kg/day and expand it internationally.

“With the assistance of PDAC, our company has successfully established two coffee nurseries in Amboim and Cassongue. Three hundred local producers have received plant donations from our nurseries, leading to a revitalization of production and an increase in volume. Over the next 3-4 years, the region is poised to witness a significant increase in coffee production and demand for Gabela coffee, with plans underway to start exporting internationally. The support extended by PDAC exceeded our initial expectations, catalyzing a transformative shift in coffee cultivation within our region. This backing has instilled greater confidence among coffee producers, ensuring a sustainable market for their goods. By fostering this market, we have made significant strides in enhancing the livelihoods of producers, their families, and laborers, consequently benefiting thousands of individuals both directly and indirectly.” – Jose Ventura.

Third Stop – Cafuqueno Farm, Province of Kwanza Norte

Despite Maria Campos’ family history being rooted in farming for generations, her decision to re-engage in agricultural activities was somewhat unconventional. Following years of service as a civil servant in Luanda, Maria sought therapeutic respite in the countryside in 2013 to address her health concerns. Initially, she was met with resistance from her husband regarding her farming aspirations, but he later became her staunchest advocate upon witnessing the significant improvement in her well-being as she immersed herself in farm work. Starting with fruit cultivation, Maria gradually diversified into growing vegetables and tubers. By the close of 2018, she had amassed over 400 hectares of land with aspirations to enhance production levels, albeit constrained by limited resources. With support from PDAC, the farm has benefitted from technical guidance, improved seeds, and essential machinery to facilitate large-scale cultivation of corn and beans. Presently, Maria has sown 21 hectares of corn earmarked for harvest by April’s end while preparing an additional 30 hectares for bean cultivation. Maria’s ambition is to optimize the total 400 hectares of her farm, which currently has 90 hectares under cultivation and employs 19 full-time staff.

“PDAC has played a pivotal role in realizing our agricultural objectives by strategically furnishing key resources and expertise to our farm. Prior to our engagement with PDAC, large-scale production posed challenges, often resulting in losses due to inadequate measures to combat pests and insects. However, through equipment such as the seeder and sprayer provided by PDAC, we can now effectively cultivate vast expanses of land while safeguarding our crops. Additionally, the provision of storage facilities has enabled us to preserve our produce, a capability previously lacking which had compelled us to sell our products at reduced prices.” – Maria Campos.

Fourth Stop – Anjomal Farm, Province of Malanje

Situated in the Cambanje commune, 25 kilometers from Malanje city, Anjomal Farm is owned by Jose Manuel Domingos and his wife Ana José, known as Tia Seja. Both aged 62, they are parents to five daughters. The farm spans 1,800 hectares and cultivates a variety of crops, including maize, cassava, coffee, soya, vegetables, fruit, beans, potatoes, and fish. This season, it has cultivated 50 hectares of maize with an expected harvest of over 200 tons.

With assistance from PDAC, the farm has acquired modern agricultural equipment such as a six-row seeder, a fertilizer spreader, and a sprayer. Although corn production was not new to the farm, this is the first time they are utilizing advanced techniques for large-scale corn cultivation.

“Last year, we suffered significant losses due to lacking a harvester machine. When cultivating large areas, it is crucial to have an efficient method of harvesting to ensure timely and optimal production. Previously, we used to harvest 40 hectares of corn manually with the help of many employees, yet we still lost a significant portion of our yield. However, with the right equipment, we have increased our production area and minimized losses. We are gradually moving towards achieving our full production potential,” – José Domingos.

“Previous losses were experienced as a result of the absence of professional guidance on farming techniques. Thanks to the assistance of Incatema experts (one of PDAC’s technical service providers), we now have access to invaluable support and resources. The transformation brought about by PDAC’s support is significant, with our progress likened to transitioning from crawling to walking, and now advancing towards running.” –Tia Seja.

While optimistic about the future with PDAC’s support, the maize producers acknowledge the need for silos to store surplus produce for increased production. The inadequate storage infrastructure poses challenges to both the country’s economy and its people.

The Fifth Stop – Poultry farming, Province of Malanje

Carlos Marta, age 45 and a father of four, is among the key figures driving the poultry initiative at the Catchicongo Farm in Malanje. The inception of the poultry project dates back a few years, but actual implementation commenced in early 2023 with the stocking of two out of the five preexisting structures. Through the assistance of PDAC, infrastructure enhancements were made and chickens were procured. The farm boasts 1,200 hens, yielding between 800 and 900 eggs daily. While the standard egg output per hen should ideally be one per day, varying feed costs pose a significant challenge. The consistency of egg production is directly influenced by the quality of the feed provided.

Given that this marks Malanje province’s inaugural poultry enterprise, the absence of a local feed supplier or producer means they are dependent on Luanda. The farm hopes to produce feed on-site in the future.

“The PDAC’s support reinforces a motto that we had put down at the beginning when we decided to take up poultry farming: even when things are difficult, giving up is the last option. PDAC came along at a time when spirits were very low, and here we are today. Even with the feeding challenges, we’re producing between 800 and 900 eggs a day, but our goal is to reach 30,000 to 40,000 eggs a day. To achieve this goal, we need to increase our hen population and produce the feed ourselves. We want our province to be self-sufficient in egg and chicken production; we have 600,000 inhabitants to feed here in the city of Malanje” – Carlos Marta.

The overwhelming demand for their eggs has prompted some establishments, such as local shops and restaurants, to secure advance bookings. Carlos Marta’s transition from urban life to poultry farming demonstrates a strategic move towards economic diversification after a lengthy stint as a teacher.

All these projects showcase the resilience, strength, and perseverance of entrepreneurs who leverage the vast potential of land and water resources to enhance food security and diversify Angola’s economy.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The World Bank Group.

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