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Angola, officially known as the Republic of Angola, is located in Southern Africa, with its entire western part bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest country in sub-Sahara Africa. Angola’s population is slightly more than 2 million (2012), and its capital is Luanda. Being a former colony of Portugal, its official language is Portuguese. Angola gained independence in 1975 after 13 years of armed struggle. Almost immediately thereafter, a civil war broke out that continued till 2002. Almost three decades of war resulted in millions of dead or displaced Angolans, destruction of crops, livestock and infrastructure, dissipation of institutions, and ever lingering threat of unexploded land mines. After the end of the civil war, the economy of Angola, driven by exports of oil (second largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa) and diamonds (fourth largest producer in the world), started recovering at an exceptionally rapid rate. However, only a tiny elite sector of population reaped benefits from this economic development while most people, and especially those living in rural areas, keep suffering from extreme poverty, with minimal basic facilities.

Angola is administratively divided into 18 provinces. The provinces are sub-divided into a total of 163 municipalities. In terms of climate, the temperatures in the northern areas, close to the Equator, are high and start declining while moving towards south. The country has two distinct seasons; warm and rainy, and dry and cold. Rainfall decreases from north to south. The climate of the capital Luanda remains pleasantly moderate throughout the year. Many rivers flow in the country.

Before the liberation war, the agricultural commercial sector was one of the most important pillars of Angola’s economy, mostly due to plantations of export crops owned and managed by Portuguese farmers. Angola was the fourth largest coffee producer in the world, and also exported sisal, banana, sugarcane and cotton. The sector almost collapsed during the fighting period and is now struggling to rise again. Presently, agriculture remains mostly subsistence in scale and primitive in methods. In 2007/08, the average area cultivated by farmer families was 1.56 hectares. The main fertile regions are highlands and valleys. Main food crops are cassava, maize, sweet potatoes and millet. The cultivation of cash crops like coffee, banana, sisal, sugarcane, tea, and oil palm is also being restored. Livestock (cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens) and fishery are important for rural and coastal livelihoods. Agriculture-related environmental problems have been caused by slash-and-burn practice by farmers, and overuse of insecticides. Existing landmine fields have reduced the arable land area.


Angola has gone through several upheavals, such as being unwillingly a surrogate for power struggle among some key countries like USA, Soviet Union, South Africa and Cuba, prolonged armed struggle for independence, a long civil war, and a period of communist rule. As such, most of its national institutions, including agricultural extension services, were either destroyed or barely survived.

During the 1930s, some missionary schools in Angola were providing extension support to farmers. It is evident from some photographs in the William V.S. Tubman Photograph Collection at Indiana University, showing agricultural extension at Galangue Mission Station, supposedly the first ever demonstration with plow to a large group of farmers, and a plow designed to dig ditches.

In the early 1970s, various types of agricultural production units existed side by side, ranging from primitive hunting and gathering to large commercial plantations. The agricultural census placed these units in two categories, namely traditional (mostly small plots on tribal lands which produced food both for home consumption and market; almost 1.2 million holdings in 1971/72), and commercial (large fields and plantations such as for coffee, but also some small and medium sized farms; 8,038 commercial farms in 1971/72, all registered under Portuguese civil law).

Angola gained independence in 1975. By 1977, when the Portuguese abandoned their farms and had fled from Angola, the Angolan government, following a Soviet model of centralized, planned economy, nationalized the commercial farms while smaller land properties were organized into cooperatives.

During the communist era in Angola, agricultural extension services were given inadequate budget. Not only that, but it is also suspected that extension meetings held in rural areas were used by political appointees as a platform for communist propaganda in support of the government control over marketing of farm produce.

By the end of 1985, the Directorate of Farm Marketing supposedly controlled 4,638 farm cooperatives and 6,534 farmers’ associations. However, in fact, only 93 cooperatives and 71 associations were operational.

Although Angola’s economy is presently based on the export of oil and diamonds, the government does realize the great potential of the agricultural sector for food security and export of agricultural commodities as was the case during the colonial period. The China Development Bank has recently approved a four-year loan of $1.2 billion, aimed at kick-starting agricultural development in Angola.