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Agricultural Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Agricultural Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the agricultural sector in the region and derives necessary development paths to promote the country’s future food security.

At the beginning, the analysis gives an overview of the major geographic, political, economic and social characteristics of the DR Congo. Subsequently, it discusses the structure as well as challenges of the agricultural sector and shows how past and current developments lead to the country’s shortfalls in agricultural production and how the DR Congo can unfold its full potential in the farming sector.

In the DR Congo, the agricultural sector accounts for 60 percent of labour force and 50 percent of GDP. Although food production is stagnating, the country holds a large amount of available arable land that is not utilised yet: While the DR Congo has enormous agricultural potential with an estimated 75-80 million hectares of arable land and climatic conditions favourable for farming, only 10 million hectares are used for cultivation and pasture land.

Inadequate farming methods leading to soil degradation, limited transportation and storage infrastructure or badly adjusted land tenure systems are some of the weaknesses that are challenging food security in the DR Congo. Also the dual structure of agriculture contributes to insufficient food supply: The agricultural sector consists of traditional and modern farming. Traditional farming accounts for 80 percent of total farming and is highly vulnerable to climatic, geologic or market-related changes. Modern farming is less prone but mainly used for the production of export goods. However, while modern farming was dynamic in the 1970s and 1980s, it continuously decreased.

Nevertheless, the DR Congo’s favourable climatic conditions, large sections of arable land not yet cultivated, reforms and strategies from the government are some of the strengths that offer a beneficial fundament for structural improvements in the agricultural sector.

Against this background the author identifies three spheres of development in order to improve food security in the DR Congo:

  • Organisational sphere: improved research networks and distribution systems
  • Technical sphere: adjusted agricultural methods and expansion of irrigation
  • Economic sphere: laws of investment and market regulation


Country analysis developed by Tanguy Smoes, D.R. Congo (supervised by ICEP, Austria)



Find out more about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its agriculture: http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/en/?iso3=COD

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