So many stories to tell, pictures to show and experiences to share. We spent spent 48 hours in Huambo, spread over three days. We saw the seed and fertilizer project that the Rotary Club of Luanda in District 9350 and 34 clubs from District 5230 in California made possible.

We arrived in Huambo province just before noon on Wednesday, 17 June 2009, after a quick flight from Luanda. Huambo is the second largest city in Angola, located in the central highlands at about 1,800 meters (5,500 feet) of elevation.

We arrive in Huambo. Left to Right: PDG Nina Clancy (RC Visalia County Center, D-5230), WorldVision Rotary liason Kim Lorenz (RC Seattle), Dustin Koobatian, Florinda Carneiro (RC Luanda, D-9350), and Kristin Pires (RC Tulare Sunrise, D-5230).

Our delegation was comprised of six Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Luanda, District 9350 (including John Yale, World Vision's country director in Angola), four Rotarians from three clubs in District 5230 in California, and several World Vision staff members. Kim Lorenz, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, is on World Vision's staff and serves full time as their liaison with Rotary.

Our first stop was a meeting with Ex.ª Senhora Lotii Nolika, the vice governor of Huambo province. Her first question was "why only certain communities?" President Manuel explained that potatoes -- the chosen crop for our project -- need water, which means that only villages where gravity-fed irrigation is possible can take part in our current project.

President Manuel Correia and President Elect Manuel de Sousa (RC Luanda, D-9350) brief Ex.ª Senhora Lotii Nolika, vice governor of Huambo Province, on our project.

The vice governor was also concerned about logistics, saying that transportation to Luanda, the primary market for the crop, is difficult. She wanted to know what we're doing about that problem. He explained that others are working on transporation solutions, and we are focused on improving production by improving the quality of the seed. Better seed means higher and more consistent yields, and more predictability in getting a crop to market. Making the crop more predictable also helps ease the transporation problem, because associations and cooperatives can make arrangements well in advance of need.

Right now, the only way to move the produce the 600 kilometers (about 400 miles) to Luanda is by truck. The road is constantly being worked on -- Portuguese and Brazilian companies have made considerable improvements -- but it is still a difficult drive. The real answer should come next year, when railroad service is scheduled to resume between Huambo and the coast.

Dinner back at the hotel. In the foreground are Jonathan White, operations director for World Vision Angola, and Steve Koobatian (RC Visalia County Center, D-5230)

Our next stop was a quick check in at our hotel, and then we went into the field. Those pictures and stories – the real purpose of our trip – will be posted soon.

President Manuel, PDG Nina and President Elect Manuel departing Huambo

We were in Huambo about half a day on Wednesday (17 June 2009) and Friday (19 June 2009), and a full day on Thursday (18 June 2009), going from early morning to well after dark each nights.

Nina, Steve Koobatian and Dustin flew back to Luanda on Friday. They were joined by Florinda Carneiro, PN Arlete de Sousa, PE Manuel de Sousa and John Yale from the Rotary Club of Luanda. President Manuel Correia stayed on in Huambo. He is originally from there and does business there regularly.

Rosalino Neto from the Luanda club, Kristin Pires from RC Tulare Sunrise and Steve Blum, RC Monterey Pacific chose to drive back to Luanda. The trip took about nine hours and went through some spectacular scenery.

The 600 kilometers between Huambo and Luanda has amazing views

The Kwanza River serves Luanda with hydroelectric power, and provides a source of water for drinking, washing, transportation and waste disposal, a common situation in the developing world and the reason Rotary focuses so intently on water projects

John Yale (RC Luanda, D-9350), World Vision country director for Angola, Nina Clancy and Steve Koobatian at the World Vision office in Luanda

Steve K, Kristin and PDG Nina at the Luanda airport, heading home on Saturday, 20 June 2009

Great meeting with our companheiros at the Rotary Club of Luanda. It's a small club with a proud history. During the civil war in Angola, and afterwards under a Marxist government when Rotary was effectively banned, a handful of members kept the flame alive by meeting where they could and sharing meals, sometimes with as few as three members in the club.

Rotary Club of Luanda welcomes District 5230 team

Not only are they spearheading the Million Dollar Dream in Huambo, they've organized the National Immunization Day for Rotary's Polio Plus program, which happens to be tomorrow, the day we fly to Huambo.
Comments (2)

Notes from our first meeting with John Yale, Angola country director for WorldVision...

Map of Angola, with Huambo Province circled

The objective of the program is to develop the economy in Huambo by building self-sustaining enterprises. Right now, those enterprises are small farms, referred to as smallholdings, which support one family on a handful of acres.

Huambo Province

The Rotary Club of Luanda (D-9350) and District 5230 are providing, literally, seed money for the project. The $250,000 we raised is going towards seed and fertilizer, which will be distributed as part of a comprehensive development program. That program includes organizing smallholders into associations, providing agricultural expertise, developing a market for produce and arranging access to credit.

Market access makes the program work, access to credit keeps it self-sustaining. We're providing one piece of a larger project. Another partner in the effort is the Gates Foundation, which is working on developing a market for agricultural produce from Huambo. The capital, Luanda, is eight to twelve hours by truck from Huambo, and there's evidently no reliable source of real-time information about prices and demand for any given commodity there. Most food is imported, the internal agricultural market is very poorly developed.

Supermarkets and restaurants in Luanda are being targeted right now as potential customers for Huambo's produce. In order to make that happen, the smallholders and their associations have to be able to promise a reliable, steady supply. They can't just show up with 12 truckloads of produce at the usual harvest time. They have to be able to supply one truckload a month for an entire year. Or even smaller lots weekly or better. That's one piece of the puzzle to solve.

Another is transportation. There is a rail line that runs from Huambo to the Atlantic coast, and from there up to Luanda. Some traffic is apparently moving on it, but it needs work and, according to Yale, the Angolan government is working on upgrades.

If Huambo smallholders can just get their produce to the coast, and sell it there, they could well succeed in building a sustainable business. Yale said that a smallholder might be able to sell produce at, say, $175 per tonne directly off the farm -- "gateside", as he puts it -- but that same tonne would fetch $500 on the coast.

A typical smallholder might be able to produce 2.5 tonnes in a single harvest. That's worth about $400 gateside, but $1,250 on the coast.

That's a huge difference, a three-old increase in income. And the numbers themselves are critical. In order to produce that 2.5 tonnes, the smallholder needs to start with about $375 worth of seed and fertilizer. $400 of revenue leaves just $25 to support a family until the next harvest, $1,250 puts $850 on the family's table.

Having that money available also allows the family to invest in their home, maybe put on a zinc roof or build a cookstove. Quality of life goes up.

Credit is piece that makes it self-sustaining. If a smallholder can borrow $375 for seed and fertilier, then he or she is assured of being able to plant again. The major government-controlled bank in Angola is beginning to loan seed money directly to smallholders in Humabo, through our joint project. The bank makes the loan, WorldVision guarantees the loan and provides training and other assistance to smallholders and their associations, so that the loans can and will be paid as promised.

Part of that involves developing individual business plans for each smallholder.

Yale also talked about how the Green Revolution, the biotech miracle of the second half of the 20th Century, never happened in Africa. Through better technology, the Green Revolution is credited with vastly increasing agricultural production in both the developed and developing worlds. Countries that were once on the brink of mass starvation are now self-supporting in terms of food, or have even become food exporters. Not so in Africa, according to Yale.

He said that WorldVision has had a lot of success around the world with agricultural technology programs. They've been very successful in boosting production. The market access and agricultural credit side is a work in progress, but it's work that's now being done in partnership with Rotary, the Gates Foundation and others, such as the Angolan Government, Chevron (Angola is a major oil producer), and the U.S. government's AID program.

The Gates Foundation is also focusing particularly on improving agricultural technology adoption, in Angola as well as elsewhere in Africa. Another, larger agricultural technology program is being run in Angola by the Rockefeller foundation. Both are trying to tackle the problem from both the supply and demand side, by developing markets and business acumen along with increasing production.

Yale believes the project in Huambo should be a success. While Angola was a Portuguese colony and before it was wracked by nearly 30 years of civil war, Huambo was a major agicultural producing region. During the war, Huambo was Ground Zero for the fighting, and was devastated. But the history and the natural resources are still there. Critically, Huambo has ample water for irrigation.

Africa in general is a relatively dry continent, with very little in the way of developed, or even developable, water resources. Because of its location in the highlands on the edge of the Congo basin, Huambo is wetter, with plenty of accessible ground water. That ground water is now being tapped to provide reliable, year round irrigation for crops.

We have lots more to see and learn. Yale said we'll be going to the villages where the Rotary seed and fertilizer will be distributed. We'll be learning exactly how our contribution will be put to use in this comprehensive development program, and we'll see the distribution chain from beginning to end. We'll also see some villages and local agricultural associations that are further along in the process.

Several members of the Rotary Club of Luanda will be going to Huambo with us on Wednesday. The president of the club is already there, having made the overland drive today. Tuesday, we'll see some of Luanda and the Worldvision operation here, and tonight we go to the RC Luanda meeting.

Kristin Pires and I are in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. The flight from Joburg was flawless, but our arrival at the airport wasn't quite that. We walked into a mad rush at passport control to get immigration forms. It sorted out eventually, then we waited maybe an hour and half for Kristin's backpack to appear at baggage claim.

After that, though, it was back to flawless. Rotary's partner on the Million Dollar Dream project is WorldVision, a Seattle-based relief and development organization with an extensive operation here in Angola, as well as projects throughout the developing world. A WorldVision driver picked us up and brought us to the Hotel Tivolli. We checked in, and then met with John Yale, WorldVision's country director for Angola.

John told us a lot about Rotary's project in particular and WorldVision's activities in Angola in general. Those details will come in a later post -- this is just a quick update while I have a few minutes of Internet access before we head out to dinner.

We're going to have dinner with John, then hang out tomorrow morning waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. Once we're all together, were going to take a quick tour around the Luanda area, and visit WorldVision's headquarters here. Tomorrow evening, we attend the Rotary Club of Luanda's regular meeting.

Wednesday, we head to Huambo, where our Rotary project is based. John has promised that we'll be able to see the entire distribution chain for the seed and fertilizer that District 5230, the Rotary Club of Luanda and the Rotary Foundation have raised $250,000 to buy.

It's all real now!

More later...

The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is Cape Town's commercial showcase, with malls, restaurants and a lively promenade. Rotary makes it mark there, sponsoring a signpost that shows you exactly how far you are from most of the rest of the world.

Friday was a perfect day, mild temperatures, low humidity and a gentle sun. Today it's back to winter. Not bad, very San Francisco-like. Cool with cloud cover and rain expected later on.

Arrived in Cape Town this morning after a 12 hour flight from Heathrow. Picked up a car, stopped at our hotel for a quick shower, then headed over to the Royal Cape Yacht Club for the Rotary Club of Signal Hill meeting.

Good fellowship and interesting conversations. Their scheduled speaker didn't show up, so I gave a quick overview of our project, and we talked about it some. One good piece of advice was to take a close look at the distribution logistics in Huambo when we get there. They've had experience with similar projects in South Africa and elsewhere. Told us one story about seed left rotting by the side of the road because no one had a truck. Some of it was dragged out on skids, but most of it was left behind.

We talked with PDG Peter Hugo, currently foundation chair for District 9350, and also a member of the Signal Hill club. He gave us some good background information about the district and the Luanda club. Had very good things to say, and offered to help out if he could.

Another excellent bit of advice, which we took, was to waste no time in taking the cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain. Today is a rare, warm and clear winter day in Cape Town. The clouds that usually wrap Table Mountain this time of year were nowhere to be seen this afternoon.

Kristin Pires, Rotary Club of Tulare Sunrise, on Table Mountain

It was spectacular. 360-degrees of visibility, with perfect views of Cape Town itself, Point Cape, the Atlantic coast and the mountains ranging south and inland.

Steve Blum, RC Monterey Pacific, overlooking Cape Town from Table Mountain

Had a quick dinner at our hotel, and now two days of travel and a nine hour time change are kicking in. There's a 7:00 am Rotary Club meeting -- RC Capetown Waterfront -- tomorrow. Might or might not make it, depends on how the jet lag goes.

More pictures from Table Mountain, courtesy of Kristin Pires...


Kristin Pires (Rotary Club of Tulare Sunrise) and I are leaving today, flying out of SFO this evening. We'll be meeting Nina and Steve in Luanda next week. Here's our trip plan...


In Huambo
1. See co-op(s) that will distribute and manage Rotary seed and fertilizer
2. Verify Rotary branding and public awareness re Huambo project
3. Verify seed and fertilizer distribution chain
4. See warehouse with seed and fertilizer earmarked for Rotary
5. Establish ongoing communication and reporting process
6. Future needs assessment for second half of project
7. See a smallholding that will be receiving Rotary seed and fertilizer
8. See co-op that has been in operation for a longer time


Itinerary for Steve Blum & Kristin Pires


Tuesday 9 June 2009
United Airlines 930
Depart: 7:17pm San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)
Arrive: 1:35pm (Wednesday 10 June 2009) London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)

Wednesday 10 June 2009
Virgin Atlantic 8221, operated by South African Airways -- SA 221.
Depart: 9:00pm London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)
Arrive: 10:10am (Thursday 11 June 2009) Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town International (CPT)

Monday, 15 June 2009
South African Airways 302
Depart CPT at 06:00
Arrive JNB at 08:00

Monday, 15 June 2009
South African Airways 54
Depart JNB at 09:45
Arrive LAD at 12:25

Saturday, 20 June 2009
South African Airways 55
Depart LAD at 14:10
Arrive JNB at 18:25

Saturday 20 June 2009
Virgin Atlantic 602
Depart: 8:40pm Johannesburg, South Africa Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
Arrive: 6:50am (Sunday 21 June 2009) London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)

Thursday 25 June 2009
United Airlines 93
Depart: 2:10pm London, United Kingdom London Heathrow (LHR)
Arrive: 5:11pm San Francisco, CA San Francisco International (SFO)


Cape Town:
The Village Lodge Portfolio
Tel: +27 (0)21 421 1106
49 Napier Street
De Waterkant
Cape Town
South Africa 8001

Hotel Alvalade
Avenida Comandante Gika
Phone: +244-222-327470
Fax: +244-222-327480

Hotel Roma Ritz
Avenida da Republica
Phone: 244-241-223816/7/8
Fax: 244-241-223820

The first half of the project has a total budget of $1 million, which is why we call it our Million Dollar Dream.

It started with small contributions from Rotary Clubs in District 5230, and a $2,500 contribution from the Rotary Club of Luanda during Rotary Year 2007-2008. Week by week, the contributions came in from dozens of clubs throughout Monterey, Fresno, Tulare and Kings Counties in California. In total, District 5230 clubs contributed $97,500 to the first half of the project, providing a cool $100,000 in out of pocket money from clubs and individual Rotarians to get things started.

Then the Rotary Foundation's matching grant process began. First, District 5230 contributed $50,000 in foundation funds that were raised in the district some time ago. Then, the Rotary Foundation matched funds again, providing another $100,000, to bring the total Rotary contribution to $250,000.

WorldVision then provided an equal amount -- $250,000 -- primarily comprised of in-kind services and staff expenses in Huambo. Finally, the Angolan government matched both Rotary's and WorldVision's contributions, and added $500,000 to the project, to bring the total to $1 million.

In reaching our Million Dollar Dream, every dollar contributed out of pocket by Rotarians in Angola and California was matched ten times over in cash and in-kind contributions.

We're not stopping there. It worked so well the first time, we're going to do it again. Rotarians in District 5230 have already contributed $12,000 out of pocket to the second half of the project. We're on our way to a 2 Million Dollar Dream.

Thank you!

We're contributing a major piece of a bigger project. The overall goal of the project is to provide comprehensive development assistance to Huambo province, in Angola. This province was devastated by thirty years of civil war.

The overall project is managed by WorldVision. Through the Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Club of Luanda and District 5230 are providing $250,000 to purchase seed and fertilizer. The overall plan below was prepared by WorldVision and tells the whole story. Our current piece (we're hoping to do more!) forms the core of Phase 2, improving crop yields.


Project Activities during the first year of the project

During the first year of the project the AWM+ will conduct the following major activities:

  • hire project staff;
  • conduct a baseline survey;
  • initiate project activities as described below;
  • conduct a launch training workshop;
  • purchase of a vehicle and computer;
  • achieve the targets stated in Table 1.

Table 1: Summary of Program Impact Indicators

1) To improve water hygiene and sanitation practices that are effective in reducing water borne diseases.

Community activists will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and local communities to train, support and supervise health post staff, community leaders, community selected health workers and committee members to adapt, promote, guide and support household behaviors for preventative and basic health care, including issues relating to water and sanitation. Volunteers will be trained and supported in making regular home visits for high-risk households.

The WATSAN committees will work closely with project activists in educating communities on sanitation and hygiene. Behavioral change communication sessions on hand washing, environmental sanitation, personal hygiene, and latrine construction will be organized and carried out on a regular basis, conscious of the fact that it takes time for practices to change. Training will be linked to other essential themes such as diarrhea, and sound weaning practices to create an integrated approach to health care.

2) Increase crop yields through the adoption of improved production technologies and gravity fed irrigation schemes.

Improved Gravity Fed Irrigation Management

A major investment made by the program will address the capacity building needs of the farmers with respect to social organization, production and marketing and water-scheme management aspects. It is fundamental that from the very beginning, the project adopts a flexible attitude and avoids the temptation of defining a priori the ultimate responsibilities’ thresholds of each respective party as these will find the best and ideal shape only when all the capacity building investments have been completed.

The use of gravity fed irrigation offers the possibility of responding to the market demand for a continuous and regular supply of potatoes and onions for the major market in Luanda. Currently a furrow system of irrigation is in use. The advantages are low initial cost, avoidance of contact of water with plant foliage thereby reducing foliar diseases, few permanent structures, uniform water application and high water application efficiency with good design, operation and control equipment such as siphon tubes and gates available at low cost. The limitations are moderately high labor requirements, engineering design essential for high efficiencies, water inefficiency during transport and erosion hazard from rainfall on steep slopes.

The following aspects of the current irrigation systems will be taken into account for improvement of current practices:

  • Planting on the contour and using the correct slope (up to 5% with row crops) to minimize soil erosion and the transport of pathogens;
  • Improvement to the storage and transport of water for irrigation purposes;
  • Rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes;
  • Community management of water systems to take into account the needs for human consumption, animal consumption and washing purposes.

Seeds of improved crop varieties

The project will work to promote a sustainable supply of seed of improved crop varieties through three basic areas of activity:

Multiplication of seed of potatoes by commercial seed producers;
Multiplication of basic seed of improved crop varieties through Community Seed Banks;
Access to commercial suppliers of seeds of improved crop varieties.

The crop focus is on high value non-perishable cash crops that can support the high cost of transport to distant markets and include the following:

  • Irish Potatoes (export quality);
  • Phaseolus Beans (manteiga type);
  • Onions, Garlic and Carrots.

Field Demonstrations of Improved Crop Technology

WVA, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in the central highlands, will promote improved technology packages for crop production and sustainable soil fertility improvement practices. WVA will partner with MINADER to further organize and stimulate production among beneficiary farmers by transmitting a series of basic, technical messages, which farmers can use to significantly increase yields on their farms. Disseminating objective technical messages will require an active group of qualified agronomists and extension agents who know how to communicate with farmers and are equipped to do so. The use of economically sound technical recommendations with MINADER will also serve to develop the market for input supply.

Soil Fertility Management

The soils of the central highlands are inherently deficient in nitrogen and phosphate and in many areas have been grossly depleted of essential plant nutrients by years of cropping with no addition of nutrients. As a result the response to fertilizer is often high. Even though fertilizer use is widely understood by farmers, a large project of participative evaluation and demonstration is needed to ensure suitable use and rapid widespread adoption. The project will stimulate the private sector to support a massive upswing in the use of fertilizer and improved crop varieties in the central highlands of Angola. Widespread, intensive fertilizer use is essential to the high yielding agriculture needed to bring prosperity to the Planalto and to the economy of Angola. It is not possible to expect increased (or even stable) yields in many areas without replacing the nutrients that are removed with each crop. Adoption of new high yielding crop varieties will further increase the crop yield and hence the extraction of nutrients.

Once smallholder farmers are on the scale of commercial production, linkages will be facilitated with suppliers of agricultural inputs. The use of economically sound technical recommendations will serve to develop the market for input supply. Credit through bank micro finance with the Bank of Savings and Credit will allow Farmers Associations to access essential imported inputs such as fertilizer, animal traction equipment and vegetable seeds supplied at the most competitive prices. The priority need for credit by smallholder producers is primarily for fertilizer, and also for seeds, animal traction implements, packing materials and crop protection chemicals.

3) Enhance the ability of farmer organizations to manage water systems, business relationships, access rural credit and achieve economies of scale in input and output markets

Capacity Building of Farmer Organizations

The essential element in any strategy for agricultural development revolves around the capacity building of farmers associations and their members (with gender sensitivity) to increase their development capabilities. There has been a serious disruption of human capacity to promote agricultural development activities. The development of social capital will create synergies with private sector initiatives for input supply, rural credit and improved access to markets.

Access to Credit

The Bank of Savings and Credit BPC has opened a line of credit that requires World Vision and MINADER to provide technical assistance and business services to smallholder farmers so that they can qualify for rural credit. World Vision, as a provider of business development services will provide training to clients eligible for credit from the partner Bank of Saving and Credit at the level of the association. Group training topics will include loan approval criteria, and the concept and practice of solidarity.

Linkages will be facilitated with suppliers of agricultural inputs and the use of economically sound technical recommendations will serve to develop the market for input supply. Credit in kind through bank micro finance with Bank of Savings and Credit will allow Farmers Associations to access essential imported inputs such as fertilizer, animal traction equipment and vegetable seeds supplied at the most competitive prices.

Small rural enterprises that are organized into Farmers Associations that have started the process for the legal registration will be eligible for loans. Loans will be made in US$ or Kwanzas indexed to the US$ with an interest rate of 1% per month. The priority need for credit by smallholder producers is primarily for fertilizer, and also for seeds, farming implements and packing materials.

Business Development Services

World Vision, as a provider of non-financial, business development services will provide training to clients at the level of the association and to the Apex Trading Unit. Group training topics will include loan approval criteria, and the concept and practice of solidarity. The following major steps can be identified in the credit cycle:

  • Diagnosis of Association capabilities, opportunities and needs to strengthen capability;
  • Structuring, election of a credit/administrative committee and definition of statutes;
  • Identification of high value market and structuring of the crop production chain;
  • Development of a generic business plan for Farmers Associations in each microregion;
  • Identification of individual needs for finance by a credit committee of the Farmers Association;
  • WV identify lowest cost source of required inputs and negotiate bulk supply;
  • WV and MINADER provide technical assistance for the production process and post harvest processing;
  • Institutional viability through Federations and an Apex Trading Unit;
  • Training in community organization, planning of production for identified markets, processing and packaging, business management, trading and accounting.

Access to Markets

A major factor contributing to the success of WVI-Angola’s project for economic development is to ensure that the enterprises are viable by linking Farmers Associations to pre-identified, high value output markets. Many farmers cannot identify profitable markets for produce. They are subject to low prices given by itinerant traders and are involved in inefficient individual trading at commune and municipality level markets. Smallholder farmers lack the economy of scale needed to reach more lucrative provincial level markets and lack the business skills necessary to evaluate and trade in these markets.

The project will assist the farmers associations with access to information and the knowledge of how to best use information to make business decisions, after providing business training to the groups. WVI-Angola staff will monitor agriculture commodity prices at major markets and adapt mechanisms to share market price information with farmer groups. Farmer groups will be linked to services for identification of markets, product processing and quality control, and other buyer requirements in distant markets. The following activities will improve the margin on the trading of agricultural produce in food markets and substitute imports:

  • Crop production scheduling, seasonality and estimation of production potential;
  • Identification of informal/formal markets and pre-sales negotiation;
  • Cost analysis and economics of the supply chain;
  • Monitoring of prices, publication of market information and transport costs;
  • Post harvest technology and handling, packing, quality improvement and assurance mechanisms and selection/grading;
  • Bulk transport to distant markets;
  • Sales management and credit repayment at the moment of sale.
See Older Posts...