Angola - A biosciences diamond in the rough

Workshop in Luanda

SANBio/BioFISA II visited Angola on 30 May - 3 June 2016. The purpose of the visit was to introduce SANBio and the BioFISA II Programme to various stakeholders and create awareness of the funding opportunities available in the BioFISA II Programme.

The visit comprised meetings with various stakeholders. More specifically, the stakeholders met included (but were not limited to) the Department of Biology at the Agostinho Neto University (UAN), National Technological Centre (CTN), Angolan National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (CRF NPGRC), Chemical and Environmental Laboratory Engineering Centre (LESRA), National Scientific Research Centre (CNIC). The visit to Angola, facilitated by the Ministry of Science and Technology, also importantly included a meeting with the Minister of Science and Technology Prof Maria Cândida Teixeira. A workshop was also held at the CNIC, with numerous additional stakeholders from relevant institutions.

Several interesting bioscience projects were introduced. These included a project by the CTN to collect and characterise indigenous mushrooms in the country; efforts to gather, characterize and conserve plant germplasm by the CRF NPGRC; and various projects completed by students at LESRA (one especially interesting research project involved using moringa to treat water for human consumption).

A very promising multi-million dollar project called Aldeia Nova is also underway in Angola. It involves developing agro-communal centres based on a novel and innovative concept that has the potential to reinvent agro-industrial farming communities in developing countries. With inspiration from Israel, its aim is to create vibrant, modern, skilled and self-sustaining communities, bringing new life to developing regions in Angola.

Aldeia Nova integrates agricultural production with service provision and social development through large scale agro-communal centres. These centres support large communities of farmers through the provision of animal feed, mechanical equipment, processing and packaging facilities and marketing tools, in essence aiding farmers in the production, processing and distribution of their products, ranging from poultry and cattle to crops, fruit and vegetables.

The project will help Angola to move away from importing much of its food, providing mainly eggs and dairy products for the local market, and also helps repair the damage caused by the long civil war by re-integrating former soldiers and rebels and offering new opportunities for displaced farmers, providing them both with adequate housing and a productive livelihood. In the long term the project will also further develop local industry and commerce, creating new jobs and contributing to improved nutrition and livelihoods in the communities as well as the overall development and diversification of the Angolan economy.

SANBio believes investments such as this are to be applauded; innovative and industry-integrated approaches in agriculture can lead to a better future in the whole SADC region.