Congo, Democratic Republic of The - Agriculture

The Congo's economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture. However, 99 percent of the Congo's land is not under cultivation. Nearly 70 percent of the population lives in the countryside and continues to cultivate individual tracts of land by traditional methods for personal consumption. Coffee, cocoa, sugar, palm oil products, rubber, tea, and quinquina are produced on plantations and by small farmers. Food crops include plantains, maize, cassava, groundnuts, and rice. The Congo's agricultural sector has declined since independence because the government has imposed low producer prices, encouraged the importation of cheap foodstuffs, implemented policies that hampered the access of credit to rural areas, and neglected the country's transportation and energy infrastructure. The Kabila governments promised, as part of their development policy, upgrades in rural roads and agricultural mechanization, so far without much success.

Although the Congo's agricultural sector is full of promise, the Congo still remains dependent on imports, despite having been a net exporter prior to its independence. In the 1980s, the Congo experienced a 2 percent growth in the agricultural sector. But since the early 1990s, the agricultural sector has been stagnant, experiencing zero or negative growth rates. Livestock production was decimated by fighting in 1996-97, and fish production on interior rivers has decreased dramatically. Finally, income from timber sales can hardly be considered part of the Congolese economy, as the timbered areas remain under rebel control in 2001.

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