Angola: Over one million Angolans still need food aid


Despite improved crop - many refugees and soldiers are returning to their homes
25 July 2003, Rome -- Despite the first year of peace in almost three decades of civil conflict and substantial increase in food production, over a million people still urgently need food aid in Angola, according to a special report published by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission warns that food aid needs remain high because the reduction in internally displaced people has been offset by the rise in number of refugees and demobilised soldiers returning to their homes, which followed the 4 April 2002 peace agreement between the Government and UNITA military forces.

As a result, some 1.4 million Angolans, roughly the same as 12 months ago, will require 219 000 metric tonnes of cereals, 24 000 metric tonnes of pulses and smaller quantities of oil, sugar, salt and corn-soya blend to ward off starvation until the next harvest.

WFP plans to assist 1.03 million of the worst-off Angolans, including returnee and resettled farmers, the socially vulnerable and IDPs still sheltering in camps.

Higher cereal production

The mission reveals that abundant rains, the return of farmers to their land and agricultural input distribution have led to a 14 percent increase in cultivated areas, boosting agricultural performance for 2002/2003. This year's cereal production is expected to reach 670 000 tonnes - 23 percent higher than 2002.

Despite the favourable agricultural output, the mission forecasts that Angola will need to import 490 000 tonnes of cereals commercially with a further 219 000 tonnes required through food aid.

In the report, the two UN agencies also warn that Angola's "potential to produce food should not divert attention from the immense task of social and economic development still to be accomplished."

More than 70% of current WFP activities in Angola are recovery-oriented, a dramatic shift since last January, when 62% of the beneficiaries were under emergency programmes.

Encouragingly, the report concludes that the combined effects of Angola's agricultural potential and the return of farmers to their land are set to improve the food situation rapidly - providing favourable climatic conditions continue to hold.

"It is possible and probable that, in the near future, Angola will no longer need food assistance from abroad and will even be capable of keeping strategic stocks of food for any eventual crisis or natural disaster," said the report.

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