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Sunday, December 23, 2018

What are Africa's top 20 most important agricultural products

What are Africa's top 20 most important agricultural products

Agriculture is at the heart of Africa. Africa’s top 20 most important Agriculture Products.

Urbanization, higher food prices, displacement, conflict, and climatic changes are profoundly altering the environment in Africa’s agriculture.

Examples of Climate Change in Africa

Ethiopia is heavily dependent on agriculture; more than 90 percent of Ethiopia’s honey is still produced using traditional hives. Many beekeepers lack modern technologies and operate on a small scale. Climate change will inevitably have a greater impact on people's lives in Ethiopia and Africa at large. Vanishing white honey is just the beginning of the permanent changing climate of Ethiopia.

Over 2 million farmers in a belt that stretches from Sierra Leone to Cameroon produce Cocoa, but Côte d’Ivoire, the former Ivory Coast, and Ghana are the giants, the world’s first and second biggest producers. They are also the biggest victims of deforestation behind the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fires, droughts, and tropical storms are also playing an increasing role in forest loss, especially as climate change makes them more frequent and severe.

The percentage of forested land in Mozambique has rapidly diminished in recent years. This is due to deforestation practices and degradation, especially along the main economic corridors and around urban centers. Although rural communities use forests for their subsistence, the main causes of deforestation and degradation are commercial activities such as the intense demand for firewood and charcoal in urban zones, the transformation of the forest into large commercial agricultural areas, commercial logging and the development of mining activities.

Reaping crops in Algeria
Reaping crops in Algeria

Africa’s top 20 most important Agriculture Products

Africa’s top 20 most important Agriculture Products are in order, Livestock, Maize, Cassava, Cotton, Coffee, Rice, Peanuts, Bananas, Sorghum, Fish, Sugarcane, Cocoa, Millet, Non-root Vegetables, Beans, Palm Kernels and Oil, Timber, Wheat, Sweet Potatoes, and Tea Leaves.

Agriculture Products
Number of African countries dependence
Corn (Maize)
Non-root Vegetables
Palm Kernels and Oil
Tea Leaves

About Africa’s top 5 most important Agriculture Products


Many farmers across rural Africa depends on their livestock for survival. Whether animals such as chickens, goats, pigs, and cattle are used as a primary source of household food or as income from the sale of animal by-products, they represent an important asset to many families throughout the continent. In the next 30-40 years, the demand for animal-source foods will grow rapidly in the African continent due to growth in the human population, increasing consumer purchasing power and urbanization.


Maize is widely grown throughout the world. It is an important food staple in many African countries, the oldest maize, about 7 000 years old, was found by archaeologists in Teotihuacan, a valley near Puebla in Mexico. Maize has three possible uses: as food, as feed for livestock and as raw material for industry.


Cassava is an edible root that provides an important source of carbohydrates for an estimated 500 million people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Nearly every person in Africa eats around 176 pounds or 80 kilograms of cassava per year. 

Cassava is known by various names, manioc, yucca, yuca, mandioca, and tapioca. Cassava originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo Basin by the Portuguese around 1558. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.

Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava. Apart from food, cassava is very versatile and its derivatives and starch are applicable in many types of products such as foods, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs. Cassava chips and pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production.


Cotton is Benin’s most important cash crop however, cotton production in Africa has fallen in recent years. African farmer’s production in Burkina Faso Africa lost $89.5 million in revenue in five cotton growing seasons using Monsanto’s genetically modified cotton seeds. 

The cotton shirt you are wearing may be made from GMO cotton fibers. In Africa, large cotton plantations or farms are dedicated to growing cotton.
Picking cotton in Africa without machinery is very hot, hard, physical work where women and often time’s children work the same hours as men. 

At harvest time, pickers are expected to pick a certain amount of cotton each day or they do not earn enough money to support their families. Most work as field hands-on cotton plantations. Today raw cotton is processed in the state's grain mills which the picker must pay for the use of the mill.


Africa particularly the Ethiopian Rift Valley is famous across the world for growing producing the best coffee in the world, primarily due to its superior growing conditions. There are two distinct processing methods for coffee, dry and wet. 

The dry method is used in which the coffee beans are dried whole without pulping. The beans are spread evenly over the drying area and turned over periodically. The use of mechanical dryers is becoming increasingly popular. The beans can be placed in the dryer right after washing. 

Overheating ruins the quality of the coffee. Coffee is processed only to the parchment-coffee stage on most small Ethiopian coffee farms and plantations. The parchment coffee is then sold to a larger plantation or to a miller who mills the coffee. Large farms frequently do all their processing, including roasting. 

Coffee is frequently polished to remove all the silver skin and give the coffee a more attractive, smooth, shiny appearance. The wet method involves the removal of the pulp, fermentation of the thick, gluey material covering the parchment skin, rinsing, and then drying. 

Most countries producing mild coffee use the wet method. All exported coffee, washed and sun-dried, goes up for sale through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. Fair Trade coffee and many other products help with the sustainable development of Africa by offering better trading conditions and securing the rights of farmers and workers around the world.

Did you know?

The main staple foods in the average African diet are in terms of energy cereal rice, wheat, maize, millet, sorghum 46 percent, then roots and tubers such as potatoes, cassava, yams and taro 20 percent and animal products as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish 7 percent. 

The highest consumption of millet, oil palm, okra, sorghum, teff, wheat, yams and coffee tops the list. Staple foods are eaten regularly and in such quantities as to constitute the dominant part of the diet and supply a major proportion of energy and nutrient needs. 

Of more than 50,000 edible plant species in the world, only a few hundred contribute significantly to food supplies. Wild plants are essential for many rural subsistence households; at least 100 million people are thought to use them. In Ghana, for instance, the leaves of over 100 species of wild plants and the fruits of another 200 are consumed.

Agriculture is at the heart of Africa
Growing crops in Uganda

An ordered listing of major African crops and products starting with the most important.

African countries most important agriculture products


Wheat, barley, oats, wine and table grapes, olives, citrus, fruits, livestock


Bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal, corn, cotton, cassava, tobacco, vegetables, plantains, livestock, forest products, fish


Cotton, corn, cassava, yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews, livestock


Livestock, sorghum, corn, millet, beans, cut flowers, groundnuts

Burkina Faso

Cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice, livestock


Coffee, cotton, tea, corn, beans, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, cassava, beef, milk, animal hides

Cabo Verde

Bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, peanuts, fish


Coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, cassava, livestock, timber

The Central African Republic

Cotton, coffee, tobacco, cassava, yams, millet, corn, bananas, timber


Cotton, sorghum, millet, peanuts, sesame, corn, rice, potatoes, onions, cassava, livestock

Côte d'Ivoire

Coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber, timber

Democratic Republic of Congo

Coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, cotton, cocoa, cassava, bananas, plantains, peanuts, corn, fruits, wood products


Fruits, vegetables, livestock, animal hides


Cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables, water buffalo, livestock

Equatorial Guinea

Coffee, cocoa, rice, yams, cassava, bananas, palm oil, livestock, timber


Sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal, livestock, fish

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

Sugarcane, corn, cotton, citrus, pineapples, livestock


Cereals, coffee, oilseed, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables, khat, cut flowers, animal hides, livestock, fish


Cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, livestock, timber, fish

Gambia, The

Rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava, palm kernels, livestock


Cocoa, rice, cassava, peanuts, corn, shea nuts, bananas, timber


Rice, coffee, pineapples, mangoes, palm kernels, cocoa, cassava, bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, livestock, timber


Rice, corn, beans, cassava, cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, cotton, timber, fish


Tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, dairy products, livestock, fish, eggs


Corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley, livestock


Rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava, palm oil, sugarcane, bananas, livestock, timber


Wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans, livestock


Coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava, beans, bananas, peanuts, livestock


Tobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee, livestock


Cotton, millet, rice, corn, vegetables, peanuts, livestock


Dates, millet, sorghum, rice, corn, livestock


Sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses, livestock, fish


Barley, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, olives, livestock, wine


Cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, tea, cassava, corn, coconuts, sisal, citrus and tropical fruits, potatoes, cut flowers, livestock


Millet, sorghum, peanuts, wine and table grapes, livestock, fish


Cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, cassava, rice, livestock, camels, donkeys, horses


Cocoa, peanuts, cotton, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, yams, rubber, livestock, timber, fish

Republic of the Congo

Cassava, sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, forest products


Coffee, tea, pyrethrum insecticide, bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes, livestock

Sao Tome and Principe

Cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, coconut products, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans, poultry, fish


Peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, vegetables, livestock, fish


Coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava, coconut products, bananas, fish

Sierra Leone

Rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts, cashews, livestock, fish


Bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts, rice, sugarcane, mangoes, sesame seeds, beans, livestock, fish

South Africa

Corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, livestock, wool, dairy products

South Sudan

Sorghum, corn, rice, millet, wheat, Arabic gum, sugarcane, mangoes, papayas, bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, cotton, sesame seeds, cassava, beans, peanuts, livestock


Cotton, groundnuts, sorghum, millet, wheat, Arabic gum, sugarcane, cassava, mangoes, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, animal feed, livestock


Coffee, charcoal, sisal, tea, cotton, insecticide, cashews, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, fruits, vegetables, livestock, timber products


Coffee, cocoa, cotton, yams, cassava, corn, beans, rice, millet, sorghum, livestock, fish


Olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds, beef, dairy products


Coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava, sweet potatoes and potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers, beef, goat meat, milk, poultry, fish


Corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava, coffee, livestock, milk, eggs, animal hides


Tobacco, corn, cotton, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts, livestock

Woman farmer in Tanzania
A woman farmer in Tanzania

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