ANGOLA — Angola has inked a US$150m financing agreement with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), aimed to ensure national food security through the Smallholder Resilience Enhancement Project (SREP).

The project will promote sustainable practices such as the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties, adaptation of cropping calendars and rainwater harvesting.

It will invest in small-scale irrigation, increased access to water and climate-resilient farming practices.

The agreement was signed by Angola’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Rome (Italy), Fátima Jardim, and IFAD president Gilbert Houngbo.

The funding includes a US$29.8 million loan from IFAD, as well as cofinancing from the Agence Française de Développement (US$42 million) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (US$40 million).

The Government of Angola is providing US$10 million, with a further US$6.5 million contributed by beneficiaries themselves.

The financing gap of US$21.7 million will come from IFAD resources or from other development partners identified during the implementation.

According to reports by Angola Press, SREP will particularly benefit young people and women vulnerable to climate disasters and contribute to bolster their resilience, targeting a total of 218,000 families i.e. over 1 million people.

It aims to establish rural infrastructures including roads, strengthen institutional capacity of the beneficiaries through the construction of field schools, access to market and increase of productivity.

In Northern Angola, the main target group will be low-income small farmers’ families, grouped in cooperatives and associations, while in the south the programme will benefit vulnerable families to climate disasters moving from recovery to resilience.

The project foresees the construction of rural infrastructure to support market-oriented production, as well as to enable an efficient placement of surplus production in the markets, thus contributing to the improvement of income and living conditions of the populations.

Among other things, it will strengthen the capacity of the private sector to develop and disseminate advisory services, including those related to adaptation and resilience to climate change, and covering arid, semi-arid and sub-humid agro-ecological areas covering 35 municipalities in seven provinces, namely Bengo, Zaire, Uige, Cuanza Norte, Benguela, Cunene and Namibe.

Fátima Jardim, who is also Angola’s ambassador to Italy, said the signing of the agreement demonstrates the excellent cooperation relations between Angola and IFAD, based on the commitment to fight hunger, improve nutrition, reduce rural poverty, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDS) contained in the United Nations Agenda 2030.

The government of Angola has implemented several development projects to revitalize 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 with US$583 million the first quarter of 2019. 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. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, such steps are more important than ever.

“If we want to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security and reduce Angola’s food import bill, the government must invest massively in the agriculture sector,” said Robson Mutandi, Country Director for Angola.

“Particular attention to commercializing family farming on a sustainable basis is critical for the prosperity of Angola,” he added.

In other related news, the Agrarian Development Support Fund (FADA) of Angola is set to inject Akz 15 billion (US $26.3million) in this year’s agricultural season to enhance crop production in the country through offering credit to family farmers.

The funding will enable the farmers acquire agricultural inputs such as tractors, fertilizers, pesticides, production tools, agricultural seeds, as well as other means to guarantee the development of agriculture in better conditions.

The expected results of the project is job creation, improvement on the means of nutritional subsistence and facilitate the development of value chains in the agricultural sector.

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