Thousands face food shortages

Thousands of Angolans in the country's central highlands could be facing food shortages in the coming months, according to a monthly report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

The food stocks of about 245,000 people in Huambo, one of the central provinces, were particularly low, warned the report. Elsewhere, food stocks were beginning to run out, just four months after the main harvest.

According to the last vulnerability analysis, newly returned formerly displaced farmers had enough stocks to meet their cereal and bean consumption requirements only until August. The long-term farming population was better off and had stocks to last them until next month.

However, the incidence of extreme coping strategies, such as a drastic reduction in the number of meals or sales of productive assets, was reportedly low in Huambo. FEWS NET noted that this suggested the availability of alternative sources of income from crops like potatoes and other vegetables.

The other affected provinces in the highlands were Bie, Kuando Kubanga, and Kwanza Sul. Although the total cereal production in Bie was higher this year, cereal food stocks for 7,000 Angolan returnees in the northeastern town of Cuemba were close to depletion, the report said.

A recent Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Food Porgramme Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission report said cereal production in Humabo had dropped by 16 percent since last year because of excess moisture, poor farming practices, low input use and lack of draught power.

However, the recovery of the bean and sweet potato crops in the second season had helped households to access food between May and August this year.

The average level of food prices and the outcome of low-lying land production would determine the availability and access to food in the coming lean season from this month until February next year, said FEWS NET.