A diamond in the rough: Angola’s vast and growing potential as a fruit exporter

A diamond in the rough: Angola’s vast and growing potential as a fruit exporter
Copyright  euronews
By Chris Burns  & Dinamene Cruz

With great year-round weather, soil and water supplies, Angola has huge potential as an agricultural exporter.

Aderito Costa, Angola’s Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) King and Yudo Borges, Angola’s Strawberry King have both set themselves apart from the competition by embracing a shared set of values through their passion for excellence, innovation, agricultural know-how, and community development. 

"We have the best conditions to produce strawberries in the world
Yudo Borges
Known as "The Strawberry King"

In southwest Huila Province, it’s harvest time in the strawberry fields. On a 60-year-old farm that converted from flowers and cattle. That’s how Yudo Borges became known as The Strawberry King.

"We have the best condition for to produce strawberries in the world. We are 2000 metres high. We've got a dry winter. But it's very good because when we plant, we start peaking already in winter, and it's dry. We don't have many pests, we don't have any fungus or anything and we irrigate our strawberries with spring water."

The temperature range here is ideal for year-round cultivation, as Yudo explains, "Even in summer, the … hottest day we can get up to 29-30 degrees. That is good for ripening the fruit."

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"...the best conditions to produce strawberries in the world..." Yudo Borges "The Strawberry King"Euronews

Yudo brought in experts from South Africa at first, to train his team.

"We taught the girls how to pick. We've got the irrigation guys already taught how to irrigate and everything. So right now we are 100% Angolan-run company."

Most of the production goes to Luanda, filling supermarkets in the capital.

"We sell most of our strawberries in the Luanda market. So we get two cold room trucks leaving every week from our farm, taking close to two and a half to three tonnes of strawberries packed."

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Strawberry fieldsEuronews

The logistics of this can be challenging though. 

"There's still a large stretch of roads that are not very good. So this is a big problem. We are a thousand kilometres from our main market."

That’s different for a farm in Bengo Province, just outside Luanda, growing pitaya, or dragon fruit. Aderito Costa is the Pitaya King. He discovered the fruit in Brazil and brought it home 12 years ago.

In terms of quality and taste, I would say that Angola is well positioned to compete with other pitaya markets.
Wanderley Ribeiro
President of the Angolan Agricultural Association

"I never saw that before in my country. The way they were caring, producing, selling, you know, and especially the benefit of the pitaya for health."

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Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)Euronews

In fact, that’s how he got his nickname, from a woman calling in on a radio show, crediting pitaya for her family’s good health. 

"This lady said, I want you guys to call this young man the king of Pitaya in Angola and the guy in the radio said wow, this is a good idea. So after that, many other phone calls came to radio, saying he must be, he has to be the king of pitaya."

With his reputation depending on it, Costa insists on healthier production as well, avoiding the use of chemicals.

The fruit, whatever - the mango, pineapple, pitaya, whatever you want to talk about.

Those ones that taste good have been produced by following a natural system of production.

The Pitaya King
Aderito Costa
Fruit producer known as "The Pitaya King"

The President of Angola’s Agricultural Association, Wanderley Ribeiro, says his country has vast potential as a major producer and exporter of pitaya and other crops, but most of all the potential lies in the people themselves.

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Workers in the pitaya fields.Euronews

"Today we have a new generation of people that we are not only looking to the local demand. We're looking at what the global market is demanding, what the global market wants in terms of quality."

Angola is a diamond in the rough on agriculture production, and green entrepreneurs are betting on Angola’s agricultural potential.

Journalist • Richard Cadey