Villas&Golfe Angola
· Agriculture Industry · · T. Cristina Freire · P. Edson Azevedo

Agribusiness, made in Angola

A commitment to growth in the national production

PMmedia Adv.
Born in Alvarenga into a rural family, in a house with no electricity or running water, Fernando Mendes Teles, one of eight children, arrived in Angola at the age of 14, at the invitation of his eldest brother, in 1966. From then on his work life was marked, among other projects, by stints at various financial institutions. With a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Administration and a degree in Business Management, he feels most fulfilled when out in the fields, perhaps as a tribute to his father, who he lost when he was 6 years old, or just because he likes doing many things at once. And in Angola, the country that saw him grow up and become a man, he invests in cattle farms, rice and other agricultural products in order to contribute to its economic and social development. Never forgetting his roots, he maintains the best conditions for his workers on all the farms, along with initiatives that promote the wellbeing of the surrounding communities. In addition to farming, and to ensure the chain of his agribusiness is complete and productive, there is also a slaughterhouse and a company which sells and repairs agricultural machinery and implements, Agrozootec. 
Fazenda de Santo António
An agricultural giant

Located in the Kwanza-Sul province, in Tari, Quibala municipality, the Fazenda de Santo António farming estate extends over 22,000 hectares, with various assets ranging from agribusiness to tourism, and employs some 600 workers, including 14 foreigners. Considered one of the largest in the country for the production of cattle, pigs and poultry, the estate is self-sufficient in most of the components for its feed, through large-scale production of corn and soybeans.
Fully mechanised, this agricultural space uses state-of-the-art technology in various sectors, carries out ongoing training for workers and has excellent quality control in all products developed. It is now experimenting with coffee and there are already plans for rabbit farming, the production of dairy cows and a factory unit directed towards the milk value chain, while at the same time considering having its own shops for the sale of feed and agrochemical products. 

«Everything we do is to increase the supply of meat to the country»

José Artur Neves, who heads this agricultural giant, declares: «Everything we do is to increase the supply of meat to the country; the aim is that, in the near future, Angola will be less dependent on these imports.» Grazing calmly or in confinement for fattening, the Fazenda de Santo António estate’s predominant breeds are Brahman and Nelore, as well as indigenous breeds. Reproduction occurs naturally, although there is an increase in the use of artificial insemination. Although the number is not certain, as animals are born in the maternity unit or in the pasture fields on a daily base, while others go to the slaughterhouse, it is assumed that there are three thousand cattle and pigs. Soon, with the construction of 28 pavilions, each with a capacity for 30,000 hens, it is expected that the production of these birds will soon reach five and a half million per year in this agricultural unit, to enter the national market. 
But this estate also produces corn and soya on a large scale, with aligned pivots guaranteeing the necessary irrigation so that there are no breaks in production. «It’s normal for us to exceed two thousand hectares of sowing per year, irrigated, achieving a production of 18,000 to 20,000 tonnes of corn and around 4000 tonnes of soybeans. These cereals are mostly processed to produce feed for pigs and cattle, and in a short time will also go into chicken feed,» explains the managing director. However, he also says that some of the corn is used to produce fuba (cornmeal), one of the main elements of Angolan gastronomy, under the brand name Tari. But there is one more piece of news showing that the entire business is sustained almost in its entirety: «In September 2019 we installed a soybean extrusion plant which, in raw form, also serves for feed and, refined, will soon be on sale as cooking oil,» reveals José Artur Neves. 

«On this farm we also produce corn and soyabeans on a large scale»

The tourism industry is taking important steps on this estate with bungalows and a hotel ensuring accommodation for several people interested in getting to know the daily life on a farming estate, as the MD stresses: «Whoever visits us can watch the sowing or harvesting, go horse riding or on boat trips on the lakes of the dams we built; there are also visits to see wild animals in a 600-hectare reserve». 
The Fazenda de Santo António also supports the surrounding community. Within the scope of social responsibility, it has already built drinking water fountains, a primary school, while supporting the salary of three teachers and providing all the school material for the children. Its greatest achievement was the installation of a health post, with a nurse and a doctor. But the most important thing is to ensure steady work for the people who live nearby. 
Fazenda Camicundo Agropecuária
Producing, husking and selling  

Located in Camacupa, in the Bié province, the Fazenda Camicundo Agropecuária farming estate is geared towards rice production, husking and bagging for sale. Pedro Marques, an agricultural engineer in charge of all operations, tells us about the process: «Everything is mechanised, starting with the levelling of the land, which must not be terraced. This is done using a laser system, sowing is also done by machines, as is the application of herbicides and fungicides, and finally, harvesting. The only human involvement is in driving the machines.» Flattening the land is perhaps the greatest secret of rice planting, as this crop grows in semi-aquatic land, which is therefore very attractive to weeds, and as the water line constant, controlling them is more effective.
The cereal species used is originally from Brazil, and the managing director explains why: «Our rice seed, which is of the long-grain type, is a Brazilian variety that has undergone excellent genetic improvement.» This agro-industrial unit wants to reverse dependence on rice imports in a short space of time, and already has proof that it is on the right track. «In 2020 we cultivated around 820 hectares and harvested close to 6200 tonnes. For the new harvest we aim to reach seven thousand, and we are also finishing new areas, which will increase production,» stresses Pedro Marques, adding that «we are developing one sowing and two harvests.» 

«The only human involvement is in driving the machines»

In terms of area, Fazenda Camicundo Agropecuária will soon have two thousand hectares that will result in a harvest of 15,000 tonnes of rice. «We have four or five workers to do this work, because everything is mechanised, however, as we are operating in a new productive area, we now have close to 80 workers, mostly nationals, although there are some expatriates for specific jobs, such as product applications in the field.»
Sowing rice begins in August, finishing in mid-November, it can, however, extend until January, and the harvest normally starts in February. But, during these months, there are processes that take place at the same time, such as fertilising and fighting pests or other invasive threats. 
From the fields, you can see the large storage silos in the distance, indicating that the factory is close by, and the agricultural engineer, a rice specialist, explains that, «after being harvested, the grain goes into a drier, still in its husk, and the lower its humidity, the longer it can be stored; it is then stored and enters the factory; after cleaning, it goes to the husking machine and, once husked, it is bleached, at which point the tegument is removed – the most nutritious part of the rice, which is normally used for flour. Then it’s polished, separated by categories and packaged.» 

«We are developing one sowing and two harvests»

There is a surplus of rice husk on this farm, but with a noble destination: «We deliver the husk that remains in the surrounding neighbourhoods, because it has small pieces, the broken rice, which, like flour, I believe is for food and a part for sale, generating an extra income. It is also normal for us to donate rice,» says the director of the estate. «Whenever we can, we help the community and now we are renovating the road leading to the village of Txinani. We have already made a football field and the small water courses, resulting from the ditches, end up being nurseries for fish that can be eaten and that kids go there to catch.» The water for the rice irrigation comes from ditches, primary and secondary ones, where there are dikes that serve as protection from river floods, but as with everything there is always a primary work with machines so that the water, from the tertiary ditch, keeps the rice paddies flooded. 
Making Angola self-sufficient in meat  

Located in the province of Kwanza Sul, in Porto Aboim, we find the abbatoir that takes the cattle produced at the Fazenda de Santo António estate. Opened in 2020, the aim of this facility is to expand it in the short term, with plans for a sausage factory. 
However, as José Rodrigues Babel, head of the facility, which processes whole animals into pieces ready for consumption, reveals, for the moment the aim is to bring national meat to the entire country: «We have the capacity to slaughter 400 pigs, 180 cattle and 700 goats per day, but at the moment we are only butchering 430 animals per week, and all is for consumption in Angola. We already send our products to Lubango and soon we will be able to cover the entire country.» 

«The aim is to bring national meat to the entire country»

All meat is subject to strict quality control, with constant veterinary inspections, so that the final consumer can feel at ease, while at the same time there are no temperature changes during processing up to distribution, as the manager stresses: «If it is to be sold frozen, the meat, already butchered, stays at minus 35/40 degrees centigrade; then it is packed in cardboard boxes and goes to cold stores, where there are also temperatures below zero; then it is transported in freezer trucks. When it is to be sold fresh, it stays between 0 and 2 degrees centigrade. This is normally distributed in Luanda and Benguela, but the frozen meat can be transported all over the country.» 
To carry out the process from slaughter to loading the meat into lorries, the abattoir has 45 national workers, and is the biggest employer in the city. «I believe that this facility is seen as a major asset because before this there was nothing, companies were almost all closed and, with the prospect of expanding, the community knows that there will be more jobs. The training is carried out here, so many arrive without experience and in a short time develop a profession,» reveals José Babel, who, throughout his life, can boast more than 40 years of experience in the meat processing industry. 

«All meat is subject to strict quality control»

And soon there will be smoked sausages, such as chouriço, black pudding (morcela), farinheira sausage and alheira sausage, from an advanced technology smokehouse, and there will also be the possibility of producing fresh ham and sausages.
Specialised in machinery and implements  

Created 12 years ago in Luanda, Agrozootec, a company that supplies equipment, products and services for the agricultural sector, came about out of the need for specialised labour to repair machinery and implements, as its managing director, José Alexandre Silva recalls: «We noticed that more and more machines stopped working on our farms, which resulted in huge losses and, if we managed to dominate this sector, there would be no breakdowns in production. But at the beginning, this was a small facility, implemented over 900 square metres». 
The company has grown now, to occupy more than a hectare and a half, where you can find a showroom, a repair workshop and a consultancy, through a team of professionals qualified in finding solutions tailored to each farmer. «Among other brands we represent, leaders in their countries, I would highlight VALTRA, a Finnish tractor manufacturer and we have stood out for three consecutive years as the best distributor of this brand in Africa. We have tractors ranging from 50 to 550 hp,» says the manager of the company, which also owns a small factory where the equipment is assembled, as everything arrives in Angola in boxes and, like a puzzle, has to be put together. As they represent international companies it is mandatory that they meet the objectives of each of them. As well as sales and after-sales service, there is periodic training of national staff, carried out by specialised international technicians: «In the tractor sector there is monthly training, because the machines are networked and so they can communicate with each other. Whenever a new situation arises, they can send photos and a specialist enters the system through teamviewer, a programme for remote access, and is able to decode and solve less common situations that arise on a daily basis,» says the general manager. 

«At Agrozootec, all workers are able to work in any sector»

At Agrozootec, all workers are able to work in any sector, as they are motivated to do so, and many also have the opportunity to train abroad: «Even if our employees do travel abroad, we prefer it that the trainers come to Angola, because our reality is different and they also reach more workers at once. Regardless of the learning model, everyone here feels valued,» declares José Alexandre Silva. 
From 2002 onwards, many people sought out the more fertile provinces to start their agribusinesses, and Angola once again saw large livestock farms and crops of various species, eventually bringing about other small agricultural projects. In this sense, one of the company’s major goals is to help the country find solutions for agriculture to be developed on a large scale. But to also answer to small farmers, as José Alexandre Silva explains: «In Agrozootec’s commercial sector, we have a great vision of what agriculture is, often farmers come to buy one piece of equipment, but end up taking another, because they are advised by our technicians on what is best for what they intend to produce, our maxim says it all: more than selling, we serve our customers. If we didn’t think like this, our business wouldn’t exist, or we’d just be one of many on the market.»

«More than selling, we serve our customers»

Agrozootec is a company that establishes relationships with all business partners going beyond what is commercial, boasting a comprehensive offer in equipment and services, able to reach all farmers, from small to large, and offering a wide range of solutions and machinery, from soil treatment for planting to harvesting. 
T. Cristina Freire
P. Edson Azevedo