Petrus du Toit, left, the head of agriculture for Ridge Solutions, is overseeing work on a farming venture for the company.
Petrus du Toit, left, the head of agriculture for Ridge Solutions, is overseeing work on a farming venture for the company.

Hope grows in former killing fields as it seeks to become bread basket again

Agriculture in revival after farms turned into battlegrounds Petrus du Toit, a veteran South African agricultural economist, looked out on a small field of sweet potatoes, cabbage and onions being cultivated by two farmers and their children. "This land was once the centre of a vast farming economy," Mr du Toit says. "Now we are slowly getting started again." The farmers, Antonio Huila, 25, and Justin Luanda, 26, were raising a modest set of crops that mark the beginning of Angola's return to its status as the bread basket of Africa.

In 1974, Angola exported US$180 million in coffee alone, or about $796m (Dh2.92 billion) in today's money. But during the civil war that lasted from independence in 1975 to 2002, the countryside where the farmers now work became killing fields. The city of Huambo, known as New Lisbon in the colonial days when it was one of Portugal's main economic engines in Africa, saw some of the worst fighting.

Its once regal buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes and some areas are still being cleared of landmines. The wide avenues that in the 1960s hosted the International Nova Lisboa 6 Hours sports car race, sponsored by companies such as Cafe de Angola, are now overgrown and falling apart. The small field where the two farmers were irrigating their crops with water from a spring is part of what will become a 3,000 hectare agriculture operation called Cokengo.

Mr du Toit, who heads the agricultural efforts of an Angolan company called Ridge Solutions, is overseeing the transition of the land into a modern operation that will produce tens of thousands of kilograms a year of potatoes and other crops. "We plan to have invested $1bn in farms within five years," he says. The same farmers who make a meagre existence with their simple tools will be incorporated into the larger operation.

By all accounts, the lands of Angola are blessed. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that it has 3 million ha of arable land, including large pasture grazing areas in the south. The country has 25 per cent of the water resources of Africa. Before the war, it exported coffee, maize, sisal, bananas, tobacco and cassava around the world. Now it imports most food products. The government has committed to building infrastructure and providing finance to expand farming and incentivise people to move back into the rest of the country from the burgeoning capital city of Luanda.

Small coffee farms have been started again in the north of the country. But for companies starting up large-scale farms, the challenges are numerous. There is little infrastructure to handle the production of crops. A drive from Luanda to Huambo can take up to 12 hours. The storage facilities and transport routes have been all but destroyed by fighting and neglect. "You have to address the whole distribution chain," Mr du Toit says. "From trucks to roads to refrigeration, it is a big expense."

Even so, his company is planning to create its own food brands to be sold in the Angolan market and create joint ventures with foreign investors to expand its agriculture portfolio. Through its office in Dubai, Ridge Solutions is aiming to bring in investors from the GCC. While much of Huambo has been cleared of landmines, the country is still in the middle of a long-term project to make the interior safe for inhabitants and agriculture.

Rory Forbes, the programme manager for a British non-profit mine-clearing and weapons disposal group called The HALO Trust, says 900 identified minefields have been cleared or found not to be dangerous. Another 800 still needed to be cleared. "This place was covered in mines," Mr Forbes says. Over the past 12 months four explosions occurred near a military base in Huambo as residents tried to move into new lands, he says. HALO has removed 70,000 mines so far, including 58,000 anti-personnel mines and 22,000 larger anti-tank mines.

As he stands by an old abandoned Portuguese colonial barn with a collapsed roof, Mr du Toit says the agricultural challenges are still being calculated but Huambo's farms will rise again. HALO recently found a cache of live ammunition on the farm site, which will soon be destroyed. "This area saw a lot of war and many of the houses still bear scars," he says. "But if it was once going to be the new capital of the Portuguese empire, then it can be great again."

Afro salons

For women:
Sisu Hair Salon, Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Boho Salon, Al Barsha South, Dubai
Moonlight, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
For men:
MK Barbershop, Dar Al Wasl Mall, Dubai
Regency Saloon, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi
Uptown Barbershop, Al Nasseriya, Sharjah

How to help

Call the hotline on 0502955999 or send "thenational" to the following numbers:

2289 - Dh10

2252 - Dh50

6025 - Dh20

6027 - Dh100

6026 - Dh200

The details

Heard It in a Past Life

Maggie Rogers

(Capital Records)


Company profile

Date started: January 2022
Founders: Omar Abu Innab, Silvia Eldawi, Walid Shihabi
Based: Dubai
Sector: PropTech / investment
Employees: 40
Stage: Seed
Investors: Multiple


Company: Olive Gaea
Started: 2021
Co-founders: Vivek Tripathi, Jessica Scopacasa
Based: Dubai
Licensed by: Dubai World Trade Centre
Industry: Climate-Tech, Sustainability
Funding: $1.1 million
Investors: Cornerstone Venture Partners and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Sukuk explained

Sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates issued by governments, corporates and other entities. While as an asset class they resemble conventional bonds, there are some significant differences. As interest is prohibited under Sharia, sukuk must contain an underlying transaction, for example a leaseback agreement, and the income that is paid to investors is generated by the underlying asset. Investors must also be prepared to share in both the profits and losses of an enterprise. Nevertheless, sukuk are similar to conventional bonds in that they provide regular payments, and are considered less risky than equities. Most investors would not buy sukuk directly due to high minimum subscriptions, but invest via funds.

If you go:


Getting there:

Flying to Guyana requires first reaching New York with either Emirates or Etihad, then connecting with JetBlue or Caribbean Air at JFK airport. Prices start from around Dh7,000.


Getting around:

Wildlife Worldwide offers a range of Guyana itineraries, such as its small group tour, the 15-day ‘Ultimate Guyana Nature Experience’ which features Georgetown, the Iwokrama Rainforest (one of the world’s four remaining pristine tropical rainforests left in the world), the Amerindian village of Surama and the Rupununi Savannah, known for its giant anteaters and river otters;

Where to Find Me by Alba Arikha
Alma Books 


Day 4

England 290 & 346
Sri Lanka 336 & 226-7 (target 301)

Sri Lanka require another 75 runs with three wickets remaining


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Saturday (UAE kick-off times)

Atalanta v Juventus (6pm)

AC Milan v Napoli (9pm)

Torino v Inter Milan (11.45pm)


Bologna v Parma (3.30pm)

Sassuolo v Lazio (6pm)

Roma v Brescia (6pm)

Verona v Fiorentina (6pm)

Sampdoria v Udinese (9pm)

Lecce v Cagliari (11.45pm)


SPAL v Genoa (11.45pm)

Getting there and where to stay

Etihad Airways operates seasonal flights from Abu Dhabi to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. Services depart the UAE on Wednesdays and Sundays with outbound flights stopping briefly in Rome, return flights are non-stop. Fares start from Dh3,315, flights operate until September 18, 2022. 

The Radisson Blu Hotel Nice offers a western location right on Promenade des Anglais with rooms overlooking the Bay of Angels. Stays are priced from €101 ($114), including taxes.

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17


Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The specs: 2019 BMW i8 Roadster

Price, base: Dh708,750

Engine: 1.5L three-cylinder petrol, plus 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 374hp (total)

Torque: 570Nm (total)

Fuel economy, combined: 2.0L / 100km

Brief scores:

Kashima Antlers 0

River Plate 4

Zuculini 24', Martinez 73', 90+2', Borre 89' (pen)

Dr Amal Khalid Alias revealed a recent case of a woman with daughters, who specifically wanted a boy.

A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

Out of 21 eggs collected, six were unused leaving 15 suitable for IVF.

A specific procedure was used, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm cell is inserted into the egg.

On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 

Sri Lanka squad for tri-nation series

Angelo Mathews (c), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Thisara Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Shehan Madushanka, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga

Austrian Grand Prix race timings

Weekend schedule for Austrian Grand Prix - all timings UAE


Noon-1.30pm First practice

4-5.30pm Second practice


1-2pm Final practice

4pm Qualifying


4pm Austrian Grand Prix (71 laps)


Creator: Tima Shomali

Starring: Tara Abboud, Kira Yaghnam, Tara Atalla

Rating: 4/5