During the early 16th century, ships from Portugal took both potato and sweet potato to what was to later become Portuguese West Africa. While sweet potato was widely adopted by local farmers, potato growing was confined to the Bié Plateau, where altitude and the Antarctic ocean current produce a moderate climate.
On independence in 1975, Angola's annual potato production was about 32 000 tonnes, most of it grown in the highlands of Huambo province. Production stagnated during the ensuing 27 years of civil war but boomed once peace was restored - FAO data shows that between 2002 and 2007 the area under potato tripled and total output more than doubled, from 260 000 tonnes to a record of 615 000 tonnes.
Annual potato consumption is estimated at 15 kg per capita and is expected to grow rapidly with urbanization. However, production is constrained by low average yields of 5 tonnes per hectare, high post-harvest losses and dependence on imported seed potato. To satisfy demand, Angola also imports potatoes from South Africa.