In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), between 20 and 50 percent of children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, yet the government has allocated only 3.56 percent of the national budget for the 2020 fiscal to agriculture. Such a low investment gives the impression that the administration of President Félix Tshisekedi values agriculture less than other industries in the country. Granted, agricultural products make up a very small percentage of the DRC’s total exports, yet President Tshisekedi has stated publicly his goal of making the Central African country self-sustaining in terms of food production.
As a signatory to the Maputo Protocol, the DRC should be allocating at least 10 percent of its budget to agriculture, considering the number of farmers in the country has increased from 10 million to 15 million, according to the United Nations Development Programme. During a 2011 workshop held in the capital Kinshasa, the National Institute of Statistics estimated that the DRC has the potential to feed 2 billion people. It has 80 million hectares of arable land, yet only 10 percent of it is utilized for agriculture.
Why It Matters
Research has shown that agriculture remains one of the quickest forms of employment for Africa’s most impoverished citizens, while also significantly contributing to GDP growth for many sub-Saharan African nations. The DRC used to be one of the principal coffee producers in the world up until the early 1990s, when perennial conflict violently disrupted the country and displaced millions. As evidenced by the INS’s analysis, the DRC could very well be Africa’s breadbasket if it were to find a more efficient method of promoting its agricultural industry. Beginning that transformation would require greater national investment before bringing in outside funding. With Africa’s population expected to double by 2050, and climate change disrupting existing food supply chains, the DRC is in a prime position to meet this growing need and in the process transform itself into a major economic player on the continent.