- Improvements are finally widely noticed in post-war Angola, a new UN report outlines. "Security in Angola has noticeably improved, cereal production is growing and the number of people needing food aid is falling," the UN today reports.
After almost three decades of war followed by two years of peace and stability, the civil and food security in Angola is finally improving. However, "the southern African country is still only achieving a tiny fraction of its agricultural potential," according to a UN report.
A joint assessment from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that the area planted with crops was about 2.91 million hectares, an increase of 15 percent over last year. But the cultivated acreage reflected only a very small amount - 4.8 percent - of the potentially cultivable land.
Cereal production in 2003-04, including milled rice, is estimated at 713,000 tons, more than 9 percent higher than last year and 27 percent above the previous five-year average, mainly from increased areas under cultivation.
According to WFP, the average number of people needing food aid per month will be about 1.12 million, compared to 1.4 million last year. "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 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) as compared with 18 percent in 1990.
- The increase in oil production could help boost real GDP growth to 11.3 percent in 2004 or 13.7 percent in 2005, but this would probably have only limited or even a negative effect on the non-oil sector, the report says.
The predominance of oil in the economy is inducing 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 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. Nevertheless, Angolans at large now enjoy a noticeably improved security situation.
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, the FAOI/WPF report holds.
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