An arable land is a land capable of being plowed and used to grow crops. According to the adopted definition by the World Bank and FAOSTAT, “arable land is the land under temporary agricultural crops, temporary meadows for mowing and pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens, and temporary fallow”.
It is believed that Africa has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, approximately 60% of the global total. With such potential, one cannot help but loathe towards the paradox of existing hunger, in a continent that has the capacity to feed the rest of the world.
Below features the top 5 African countries with the highest percentage of arable lands (not necessarily depending on land mass), via Statistics from CIA-The World Fact Book:
5. Burundi (35.57%)
Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. This year 2017, it has been revealed that agriculture contributes to approximately 50% of the GDP, and the sector employs more than 90% of the nation’s population. Coffee and tea are Burundi’s primary export commodities; both contributing to 90% of the foreign exchange earnings in the country.
4. Comoros (35.87%)
Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, off the Eastern Coast of Africa. Agriculture contributes 40% to the GDP, provides most of the exports and employs 80% of the labor force. Comoros is the world’s largest exporter of Ylang-Ylang, and also a large exporter of Vanilla.
3. Togo (44.2%)
Togo is a sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that compliments good growing seasons. Exportation of products such as coffee, cocoa bean and groundnuts generate approximately 30% of the export earnings. Jasmine rice, cassava and corn are also produced in large quantities.
2. Rwanda (45.56%)
Rwanda is a highly elevated country in the African Great Lakes region, dominated by mountains in the west and Savannah in the east. An estimated 90% of the working population farms; Agriculture constituted an estimated 32.5% of the GDP in 2014. Green bananas (Matoke) occupy more than a third of the country’s farmlands. Coffee and tea are the country’s leading export commodities and more than 400,000 Rwandans are reportedly making a living from coffee farming.
1. Mauritius (49.02%)
Since independence in 1968, about 40% of the island of Mauritius has been used for cultivation; 90% being sugarcane plantations. In 2011, the country produced 430,000 tons of sugar. Different types of sugars are also being produced in Mauritius, for exportation.
As good as these statistics may appear; the top 5 countries are either impoverished, living in hunger or lacking in the resources necessary to build their food production-base, across the rest of the continent.
It should be of primary focus for these lands (including other African lands) to be developed extensively and expertly, for Africa to potentially meet the heavy demand of food production and supply, within and outside the continent. Africa gears towards an expectant fulfillment of this dream.