Afonso Pedro Canga

«Agriculture plays a fundamental role in the diversification of our economy»

\\ Text Andreia Filipa Ferreira \
\\ Photography Carlos César

Included in the 2013-2017 National Development Plan as one of the economic priorities, agriculture has been the target of a range of actions aimed at strengthening production potential of food products on Angolan soil. The goal is very clear: to promote the full and sustainable development of the agricultural sector, using the full exploitation of natural productive resources and the competitiveness of the sector as a key guideline. Fighting to guarantee food security and domestic supply, Afonso Pedro Canga is the minister for agriculture and rural development and of fisheries, and is in no doubt that, with the right efforts, the agricultural sector will become an indispensable means for the diversification of the national economy. 

Agriculture is one of the priorities in Angola's economic development plan. What strategies are being outlined for the sector?

We have some key strategies, since agriculture is a sector, within the Angolan government's economic policy framework, of the highest priority for development. It is the sector that, in addition to producing food that we need to be able to live, is highly labour intensive, creating jobs and providing the economic and also social foundation of millions of Angolan families. That said, it plays a fundamental role in the diversification of our economy and has a great deal of importance in the country Gross Domestic Product. And what are our strategies? First of all, we are ensuring the sustainable food security of the country, which means increasing production and productivity to be able to increase the supply of basic consumer goods for the population. Using national production, always. Another tactic involves working on the diversification of exports. Angola depends on exports of a single product ? oil ? and we have to turn this situation around through actions aimed at promoting the agricultural sector and the agro-industry. These are our key strategies. And we have had positive and encouraging results. Proof of this is the world recognition of Angola's efforts in substantially reducing the number of people that were experiencing food insecurity and malnutrition. In 1992 about 63% of the population was experiencing food insecurity and malnutrition and, at the moment, this figure is around 18%. This fact has led the United Nations, or more precisely the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and other international agencies, to see Angola as one of the countries that has managed to achieved the first goal of the millennium.

«We are preparing instruments that will naturally improve quality in terms of agricultural practice»

What initiatives have there been to encourage agricultural practice?

There are government initiatives, through instruments that have already been approved and are being implemented. I am talking specifically about support for family farming, which is very important. In the private sector we have programmes aimed at assistance and support of family production, through seasonal loans, supply of agricultural inputs, technical support or rehabilitation of irrigation or conservation infrastructures. For example, lending to small and medium-sized farmers is a loan granted by commercial banks and for which the government subsidises interest rates and provides the necessary guarantees. There are also other programmes related to trading of farmers? produce and also to supporting agricultural mechanisation. We are preparing instruments that will naturally improve quality in terms of agricultural practice. In the public sector, we are also developing programmes for the implementation of some production units, but the greatest support is in fact aimed at the private sector.

The development of the agricultural sector is therefore anchored to private investment. What projects are being implemented?

There are many projects. A growing number of private bodies are now investing in agricultural production, which is a sector with a great deal of momentum. Merely by way of example, three years ago monthly egg production was no more than five million. At the moment, this production stands at 35 million eggs per month. This is thanks to projects by private bodies. We are aware that there is an effort by these companies in increasing production. There are projects aimed at the production of beef; there are also units that are being implemented likewise for the production of fruit and vegetables (and in particular banana production) and also in the production of cereals and corn. At the same time, agro-industrial projects are being created for processing these products.

Agriculture is an area that depends on numerous factors, such as, for example, weather conditions. Are agricultural insurance programmes being factored in?

This is a major challenge. Agriculture is a sector affected by many adversities, while depending without doubt on weather conditions and on other factors. If unplanned events occur that affect production, it is only natural that we have to set mechanisms into action that render possible the continuity of production by the producer and protect investments. At the moment there is no institutionalised form of agricultural insurance. But there are developments being made, both within the Ministry of Finance and within competent agencies dealing in insurance, with the intention of setting up agricultural insurance in Angola. Technically, we are working towards being able, in the short future, to have an agricultural insurance that is properly differentiated from other kinds of insurance.

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