27 Nov 2019
Six Angolans are starting new careers in farming, after graduating from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) as part of a ground-breaking partnership. They were selected from 500 applicants by UNITEL (Angola’s largest mobile phone company) to complete the RAU’s Graduate Diploma in Agriculture in Cirencester.
The group gained expert knowledge and farm management experience along with the skills to train others once back in Angola, where they are now managing a specially selected 5,000 ha farm. To tackle the challenge of diversifying the economy away from oil and to meet its own Corporate Social Responsibility goals, UNITEL acquired the land in the Province of Malanje to turn into a cutting-edge commercial farm.
The new enterprise sees the returning students managing crops such as maize and soybeans, with around 100 ha being ring-fenced for a new farming community with families receiving parcels of land and additional training. Baroness Lindsay Northover, the Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Angola and Zambia has publicly supported the project and used the example as part of the DIT engagement work.
One of the graduates Eugenio Suzano said: “I had a wonderful time studying at the RAU. It was my first experience of studying abroad and I learned a lot about English culture. I made lots of friends and have very good memories of our training sessions at the Rural Innovation Centre every Saturday. The graduation ceremony was one of the best moments in my life, I'll never forget that day. Our adaptation to work in Malanje is going very well, we found an amazing team here and we continue to learn about field work. We are also sharing everything that we learned in the UK. I feel proud of being part of this project.”
RAU Farms Manager, Tony Norris said: “The students were a pleasure to teach. They worked very hard to get the most out of any tasks put in front of them and were full of questions to maximise their knowledge. The team spirit between them was great to see and their appreciation of the GDA course made it even more worthwhile.” CASE IH and Cotswold Farm Machinery played a large role in making the project happen by providing new tractors, other equipment and demonstrations. This supported the theory based sessions on the main campus
Project Manager Sally Story said: “I am extremely proud to have been involved in the UNITEL project which will be of benefit to countless Angolans in the future.” The RAU is a truly global University with current students coming from over 40 countries.