Climate & Agriculture
A unique climate
Angola lies in a sub-tropical zone and yet its climate is relatively cool considering the country’s proximity to the equator.
Temperatures in Luanda average 25°C in January and 21°C in the winter month of July. With less rain along the coast, the capital only has around 300mm annually.
The coastal lowland regions are influenced by the cold Benguela current offshore. This brings fog and low cloud in the winter and a mist called ‘Cacimbo’. The current also affects the northern coast of Namibia – see Namibia, Climate & Agriculture.
Regions across the highlands and plateau of the interior – see Geography & Wildlife – are cooled by their altitude. Temperatures are highest in the north (closer to the Equator), generally decreasing the further south a region lies.
The country has two distinct seasons – warm and rainy (October to April) and dry and cold (May to September). Rainfall is heaviest in the north, where up to 1,800mm can fall annually. Along the coast, rainfall decreases north to south as the cooling effects of the Benquela current become pronounced. Areas to the south may receive as little as 50mm.
Cash crops such as coffee, tobacco, tea and cotton are grown for export, though the country’s highest-earning agricultural export in 2010 (according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation) was palm oil.
The main domestic crop is cassava, which is often used as a staple – see Food & Daily life. Maize, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and bananas are also grown in some areas.
The main fertile regions are in the highlands and valleys, though less than 5% of Angola’s land is cultivated. Workers in farming areas also face restricted land use because of leftover land mines from the long civil war.
Angola has received large loans (from the World Bank and countries such as China) for investment in its agricultural sector, to help reduce the country’s dependence on imported food. 150 million dollars has also recently been earmarked for the coffee sector; before independence, Angola was among the top five producers of coffee.
Much of Angola’s farming is based on grazing livestock across pastureland. Cattle meat is the second largest agricultural product (after cassava) in the country. Other livestock, such as goats, pigs and chickens are kept mainly by small-holders for their subsistence farming.
A fishing nation
As well as livestock, fishing is important to Angola’s agricultural economy. Angola is in the top ten African producers of fish (not including stocks raised on fish farms). The rich fishing off Angola’s shores is due to the nutrient-rich cold waters of the Benguela Current (mentioned above).
Foreign boats moved into the area during the civil war, leading to overfishing and reduced stocks. Angolan fishermen mostly use small-scale and sustainable fishing methods. Angola is in the process of re-establishing its fishing industry and processing facilities.
In 2010, over 260,000 tonnes of fish were ‘captured’ (according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation Fisheries Department). Catches include sardines, hake, mackerel and tuna, as well as crabs, lobsters and prawns.