Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is set to meet Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, and other officials of the Republic of Angola, to discuss investing in rural communities to improve food security and provide employment opportunities for rural youth.
During Houngbo’s official visit to the country on 4-6 April, a financing agreement will be signed for the new Agricultural Recovery Project. The project is designed to address the country’s food insecurity issues, which have been aggravated by repeated climate events, such as El Niño (drought) and La Niña (flood), in the target areas.
In Angola, the agriculture sector contributes on average only 10 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 44 per cent of the population.
In addition, more than half of Angola’s poor are located in rural areas and depend exclusively on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Young people in rural areas are faced with the dual challenge of wanting to explore alternative livelihood opportunities to subsistence farming or small-scale fishing, while at the same time having little formal training to equip them to face the labour market.
“Agriculture and agroindustry have great potential to provide jobs and livelihoods,” Houngbo said prior to his departure. “We need to provide investment and support to help young people to find employment. Empowering rural youth can be a catalyst for achieving the global development agenda, and we need the energy, strength and creativity of young people to drive rural transformation and build sustainable food systems.”
Since 1991, IFAD has financed seven rural development programmes and projects in Angola for a total cost of $147.3 million, with an IFAD investment of $82 million. The projects have directly benefitted 268,600 Angolan rural households.
In addition to meeting with the President of Angola, Houngbo will meet with Vice President Bornito de Souza Baltazar Diogo; Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Marcos Alexandre Nhunga; Minister of Finance, Augusto Archer de Sousa Mangueira; Minister of Economy and Planning, Pedro Luís da Fonseca, and other members of Government.
Their discussions will focus on the role of smallholder farmers in ensuring food security in Angola, the challenge of climate change, and the opportunities agriculture can offer to the rural youth.
Houngbo also will visit an IFAD-supported project to see first-hand how project participants have improved their lives in the provinces of Huambo and Bie.