Agriculture and farming in Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Democratic Republic Of The Congo

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Agriculture in Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC or the Congo, and formerly Zaire, is a country in Central Africa. The country has a 25-mile (40-km) coastline on the Atlantic Ocean but is otherwise landlocked. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), and the 11th-largest in the world. Total number of people who live in the country is around 90 millions.

The capital, Kinshasa, is located on the Congo River about 320 miles (515 km) from its mouth. Congo is bounded to the north by the Central African Republic and South Sudan; to the east by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania; to the southeast by Zambia; and to the southwest by Angola. To the west are the country’s short Atlantic coastline, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and Congo (Brazzaville).

The Great Rift Valley, in particular the Eastern Rift, plays a key role in shaping the Congo's geography. Not only is the northeastern section of the country much more mountainous, but due to the rift's tectonic activities, this area also experiences low levels of volcanic activity. The rifting of the African continent in this area has also manifested itself as the famous Great Lakes, which lie on the Congo's eastern frontier. The country is bordered in the east by two of these: Lake Albert and Lake Tanganyika.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are two kinds of climate:
- equatorial, hot and humid all year round with no dry season, in the central area crossed by the Equator and occupied by a vast rain forest (the second in the world after the Amazon);
- tropical, hot all year round but with a dry season, usually of short duration, in both the areas to the north and south of the Equator. The dry season occurs in opposite periods, from December to February (i.e. the boreal winter) north of the Equator and from June to September (i.e. the austral winter) south of the Equator.

The climate has produced the Congo River system, which dominates the region topographically along with the rainforest it flows through, though they are not mutually exclusive. The river basin (meaning the Congo River and all of its myriad tributaries) occupies nearly the entire country and an area of nearly 400,000 square miles (one million square kilometers). The river and its tributaries (major offshoots include the Kasai, Sangha, Ubangi, Aruwimi, and Lulonga) form the backbone of Congolese economy and transportation, and they have a drastic impact on the daily lives of the people.

Besides great mineral resources DR Congo has an extraordinary wealth of arable land, forest, biodiversity and water. Just 10 million of the country’s 80 million hectares of arable land are cultivated. The total areas devoted to food production in 2020 are broken down as follows : 4 million ha of cassava ; 3,4 million ha of cereals (maize and rice) ; 0.9 million ha of oilseeds ; 0.68 million ha of legumes ; and 0.67 million ha of banana.

According to the International Fund for Agriculture Development, about 70 percent of the employed population is engaged in agriculture. Agriculture counts for almost 20,33% of country GDP (the data from 2020). The DRC practices basically rain-fed farming dominated by food crops. In spite of the great opportunities for irrigation, only 13,500 ha of sugar cane and rice are irrigated out of a potential 4 million ha. Moreover, soil productivity is low.

Cassava is the most important staple food in the DRC, maize is the second most important, and beans are among the main staple food crops in the country.

Other Food crops comprise essentially tubers, plantains, , rice, and groundnuts. They are grown under a traditional system of crop rotation, slash-and-burn farming associated with the practice of fallowing land for long periods of five, and even more, years. Farmers do not use fertilizers and plant-care products. Animal or mechanical traction is rarely used. As the world's largest consumer of cassava, the people of DRC are heavily reliant on the crop. Cassava flour is used for baking bread and cakes, the leaves are consumed as a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin A and Vitamin C. The starchy root can be fermented, or processed for industrial use as a starch, alcohol or biofuel.
Cassava iswidely processed into two major products, chikwangwe, a convenient food product which in available in ready-to-serve form, and cossette which requires further processing and elaborate cooking at home. Chikwangwe is being made more in remote areas than in commercial areas.
Cassava is produced all over the country but is concentrated in four provinces: 23 percent in Bandundu, 17
percent in Orientale, 15 percent in Katanga, and 15 percent in Occidentale. Local production areas are correlated with population density as most producers are also consumers. Yields are stagnant at an average of less than 10 tons per hectare (t/ha).
Cassava is the one staple food in the DRC that is not imported in significant quantities, reflecting the fact that nearly every rural and peri-urban household in the DRC grows cassava. Cassava is also highly adaptable to changes in climate. Among the major food crops of Africa (including maize, sorghum, millet, beans, potatoes and bananas), cassava is the least sensitive to the climate conditions predicted by 2030. It's drought resistant, can grow almost anywhere, and is not easily destroyed by heavy rains. There are two types of farming in livestock production in the DRC. The first, which is the most widespread, is the traditional farming especially of small livestock (goats, sheep and pigs). The animals are bred without shelter and without veterinary care. The second is the modern intensive farming carried out by missionaries and some private farms. The total animal population in 2018 comprises one million cattle mainly in the east of the country, 4,067,000 goats, 910,000 sheep, one million pigs and 20 million poultry.

Forest industry in Democratic Republic of Congo

Forests cover more than 125 million ha, most of which is poorly exploited. A part of this surface area (about 15%) was converted into national parks and/or nature reserves. Timber resources, estimated at 6 million m², are under exploited (less than 300,000 m² produced at present). Forest exploitation is carried out in an uncontrolled manner, without an exploitation plan.

Fishing industry in Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a significant fishing potential, estimated at more than 800,000 tons of annual production. Fishing is traditional and is carried out using antiquated means in the numerous rivers and lakes and on the Atlantic coast. Fishery resources are substantial and diversified. The fisheries sector includes marine fisheries, inland fisheries and aquaculture. Marine production comes from a small coastline about 40 km long wedged between Angola and the Republic of Congo, with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering an estimated area of 1,150 km². Freshwater fishery resources populate the country’s many lakes, swamps and floodplains fed by the rich hydrographic system of the Congo Basin.

Lake Moëro Luapula is a very large lake (4 650 km2) lying between the DRC and Zambia. It has historically been an important commercial fishing area because of the strong markets for fish in the nearby Copperbelt and Katanga Province (DRC) mining districts. In the lake itself, the main taxa of demersal fishing interest include species of tilapia-type cichlids (Oreochromis, Serranchromis, Tylonochromis), Clarias, Synodontis, Barbus, and Mormyridae.

Lake Tanganyika covers some 32 900 km2, shared between the DRC (45 percent), Tanzania (41 percent), Burundi (8 percent), and Zambia (6 percent). Modern harvest operations primarily exploit six endemic non-cichlid pelagic species. These include the two schooling clupeid sardines (locally known as dagaa), Limnothrissa miodon and Stolothrissa tanganicae, together with their major predators, all centropomids of the genus Lates, namely L. stappersii, L. angustifrons, L. mariae and L. microlepis. Of the Lates species, the last three are incidental to the catch: the lake’s commercial fishery is essentially based on the two clupeids (ca. 65 percent by weight) and L. stappersi (ca. 30 percent by weight).

Lake Kivu is situated between the DRC and Rwanda and flows into Lake Tanganyika via the Ruzizi River. Kivu has a total area of about 2 370 km2. Some 1 370 km2 (58 percent) of its waters lie within DRC borders. Endemic fish include species of Barbus and Clarias, Haplochromis and Oreochromis niloticus.

Lake Edward. The 2 300 km2 area of Lake Edward is shared between the DRC (1 630 km2; 71 percent) and Uganda (670 km2; 29 percent). The lake drains into the Semliki River, which flows northwards through the DRC below the western walls of the Ruwenzori Mountains, to discharge into Lake Albert. Edward has provided important fisheries, with harvests composed primarily of tilapia, catfishes (Bagrus and Clarias spp.), and lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus). Lake Albert. Shared between Uganda (54 percent) and the DRC (46 percent), the broad waters of Albert (5 270 km2) are fed by the Semliki River from the south and the River Nile, which loops in and out of the northern tip of the lake. As with the other great lakes of the Western Rift Valley, Lake Albert contains a great variety of fish. However, the commercial catch largely comprises three species – viz.: Alestes baremose, Hydrocynus forskahli, and Lates niloticus.

Congo River Basin. The approximately 25 000 km2 area of lake waters is augmented by the Congo River and its several tributaries, including the Uganga, Lualava, Luapula, Lulonga and Tschuapa. The Congo basin contains some 33 000 km of river channels, amounting to about 34 000 km2. During periods of high water, floodplains and swamps may expand to cover millions of additional hectares. No exact measurement of flooded areas has been made, and estimates vary from 25 000 to 50 000 km2. Luapula Floodplain/Kifakula Depression. See Lake Moëro Luapula, above. Lualaba Floodplain/Lakes Complex. The Upper Lualaba floodplain, also known as the Kamolondo Depression, is about 250 km long by 40 km wide. It contains more than 50 lakes of all sizes, including L. Upemba (530 km2). There are 37 species of fish in all, with main catches consisting Momyrus, Hydrocynus, Alestes, Distichodus, Clarias, Synodontis, Lates niloticus and various tilapia. No recent catch/effort data are available. Early 1980s estimates put annual catches in the 10 000 to 16 000 t range.

Flooded forests in Central Congo Basin. In the Mbandaka region of confluence between the Ubangi and Congo streams, there are vast areas of flooded forests that cover nearly 38 000 km2, with fluctuations depending on rainfall and seasonal changes in the Congo River level. The flooded forests are characterized by brown humic waters with low pH, produced by plant fragments suspended in anaerobic and reducing conditions. Of the some 400 species of fish associated with the Congo River Basin, some are endemic and/or specialized to brown waters. Specialized families of fish include those of Protopteridae, Polypteridae, Notopteridae, Clariidae, Anabantidae and Channidae. Catch and effort data for the flooded forest region are not available. Potential annual yield estimates for the region vary widely and range as high as 100 000 to 120 000 t. Lake Tumba. Associated with the Mbandaka flooded forest region, Lake Tumba is a shallow water body with an area of 765 km2 (variable) that communicates with the Congo River through the Irebu channel, inflowing or outflowing depending on the floods. Tumba hosts 114 species of fish. No recent catch and effort data are available. Potential annual yield has been estimated in the range of 2 000 to 3 500 t by various observers.

Lake Mayi Ndombe is a large, shallow mid-Congo Basin lake of 2 300 km2 with associated flooded forests and swamps. It discharges via rivers Fimi and Kwa to the Congo. Pool Malebo (= Stanley Pool) is a large riverine lake (550 km2) shared by the Republic of Congo (330 km2 and the DRC (220 km2) formed by the widening of the Congo River. (The cities of Kinshasa and Brazzaville lie respectively on the southern and northern banks of the pool, just before the river enters a 350 km stretch of gorge and cataracts that block all navigation and drops the channel from the interior basin plateau elevation of 350 m to near sea level. The Atlantic Ocean at the river’s mouth lies some 400 km to the west of Kinshasa.) There are some 165 species reported for the pool.

Aquaculture is mainly based on subsistence family fish farming in which the cultivation of Tilapias and catfish is preponderant despite the potential for breeding other species.

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