The Angolan cooperative building a brighter future

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The Angolan cooperative building a brighter future

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
© IFAD/António Penelas

Climate change is making it harder than ever for rural people in Angola to feed themselves and their families. Floods and drought are becoming more frequent and long-lasting, affecting agricultural production across the country.

In fact, nearly four of every five Angolans are affected by moderate or severe food insecurity. A third of the population lives on less than US$2.15 a day.

But by joining forces in cooperatives, small-scale farmers and fishers are finding ways to build a better future for their families.

In the country's northern Malanje Province, one cooperative is tapping into the region's immense potential for inland aquaculture. By sustainably farming fish, members are earning more while providing the essential nutrients their families need to thrive.

Finding strength in numbers

For João Cesar Binzole, a farmer and father of 12, ensuring his family had enough to eat was once a constant struggle. But he found a new lease on life when he founded the Binzole Cooperative.

With the support of the Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture Project, he now manages a flourishing network of community fish ponds and vegetable gardens.

João Cesar and his partners learned how to rear and process fish to maximize returns while diversifying food sources and ensuring clean water supply. Not only have their diets improved, but they have a safety net when they need it most.

Part of the cooperative’s profits are used to improve access to health care, business investment and agricultural production through interest-free loans.

“Even during hard times, we manage to have food on the table,” says João Cesar. “And through difficult times such as a death, we have subsidies to give the families of the deceased.”

Today, João Cesar earns more than enough to support his entire family. By the time the project closed, the cooperative was harvesting 900kg of fish from every pond – nearly twice the global average for similar systems.

João Cesar founded and now leads the Binzole Cooperative in Malanje Province, Angola. © IFAD/António Penelas

Inspiring rural youth

João Cesar's 24-year-old daughter, Domingas, has been inspired to follow in her father’s footsteps. As well as serving as the Binzole Cooperative’s assistant treasurer, she is involved in day-to-day tasks, like tending the farm and cleaning fish tanks.

Thanks to the cooperative, Domingas hasn’t just saved up and bought a house for her family – she’s developed practices that help them thrive. From treating drinking water to preparing nutritious food, she’s giving her infant daughters a good start in life.

Nutri-ponds have been another game changer for Domingas and other young mothers in the cooperative. Unlike the commercial ponds, these small, shared ponds – an innovation introduced by AFAP – are intended for personal consumption.

This means that cooperative members no longer need to choose between consuming and selling the fish they rear in commercial ponds. Domingas knows that there will always be food on the table for her girls.

“We used to harvest and sell all our produce in the market. We didn’t keep any for our homes,” Domingas recalls. “Now that we have been trained on nutrition, we know that we must first ensure our own food security.”

Domingas followed in her father's footsteps as the assistant treasurer of the Binzole Cooperative in Malanje Province, Angola. © IFAD/António Penelas

Driving inclusive development

Jaime João Cunda took an unusual route to becoming the vice-president of the Binzole Cooperative. A former miner and Paralympic athlete, he first met its members as a literacy teacher with AFAP.

Inspired by their work, the 31-year-old decided to join the cooperative himself and turn to farming. After taking entrepreneurship training, he opened a small shop and dug his own fish pond.

Today, Jaime João’s diverse skill set benefits the cooperative as a whole – and with his own income improved, he is able to pay for his children’s schooling and medical bills.

Former Paralympic athlete Jaime João is now vice-president of the Binzole Cooperative in Malanje Province, Angola. © IFAD/António Penelas

 

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For João Cesar, Domingas and Jaime João, coming together as members of the Binzole Cooperative has made their individual enterprises larger than the sum of their parts.

Working together as a community, they are reaping the rewards from their fish ponds and gardens – and making sure that Angola’s rural people have the nutrition they need to prosper, now and in the future.