Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Huambo Province

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While Huambo province has been referred to as the "breadbasket of Angola," its soils in reality are not ideal for agriculture. Many years of intensive cash crop agriculture on these marginal soils dating back to the 1920/1930s further diminished their agricultural capacity. During Angola's civil war (1976-2002) many people who could not leave the region moved to the safer zones along the Benguela Railways corridor between Huambo and Caála. In the 2006 image this human activity shows as the lighter colours and loss of green throughout the centre of the image, particularly surrounding the two cities and the rail line between them. This concentration of settlement and agriculture with minimal inputs further degraded soils in these areas.

Deforestation has also been found to be an important cause of land degradation and relocation in Huambo province. The loss of several forested areas, including some forest plantations, can be seen between the 1973 and 2006 images, where patches of dense green have been replaced by more reflective farmland and dense settlement (yellow arrows). At the end of the war, many of those returning to Huambo province found their land would no longer support them and were again displaced. In addition, returning refugees found that destruction of infrastructure, limited availability of inputs, and limited seed stock further reduced their prospects.
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