Tonight I’m on may way to Angola for another assignment with CNFA and USAID’s Farmer to Farmer Program. This time I’ll be training farmers in vegetable production techniques. I’m looking forward to actually demonstrating tomato trellising, mulching and crop rotation and teaching about soil health and organic production. Emilio, from CNFA-Mozambique has provided me with some wonderful materials that include plenty of photos and text in Portuguese. These materials will make my job so much easier! I’ll be based in Huambo, to the south west of the capital, Luanda. Huambo, the second largest city in Angola, is over 5,000 feet high so the days will be quite hot and the nights cool.
For those of you who don’t know Angola, like Mozambique, is a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 1975 and suffered through a civil war. Unlike Mozambique the war lasted ten more years, until 2002. Like Mozambique, Angola was a net exporter of agricultural products prior to independence and civil war. However, these days an entire generation has lost significant knowledge of agricultural production due to the war and the inability to produce during this time. Yet nearly a third of the population depends on subsistence agricultural for survival. Unlike Mozambique, Angola is the second largest producer of petroleum on the African continent. Diamond mining also plays a significant role in the economy. In fact, these two industries account for nearly all Angolan exports and more than 50 percent of GNP. These industries tend to significantly skew the economy and I’ve been warned not to be shocked by outrageous hotel and restaurant meal pricing.
I’m looking forward to seeing a new part of the world, yet being able to build on all I’ve learned in Mozambique over the years. Many people have asked me if Angolan Portuguese is like Mozambican Portuguese and well the answer is “I’ll find out”. While in Mozambique in September I listened to quite of a bit of popular Angolan music while driving along bumpy dusty roads. Hopefully, I’ll get to hear some more in what appears to be a thriving music scene. Look for my next post from Luanda late on Wednesday or early on Thursday.