Democratic Republic of Congo


Million inhabitants

234 586 000 ha

Country’s area

100 000 T

Average annual domestic palm oil deficit

Democratic Republic of Congo

With more than 80 million hectares of arable land, Congo is unquestionably one of Africa’s largest agricultural countries. Yet just 13.9% of its land is cultivated today.

The oil palm originates from the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa, where it was semi-domesticated in a harvesting system. Palm oil is one of the main staple foods throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo and hence plays a key role in the daily diet of each Congolese citizen.

Before its independence, Congo – known as the breadbasket of Africa – had huge potential in multiple sectors. Oil palm cultivation, which started in the country’s central basin, was developed and industrialized over the decades. By the 1970s, Zaire was the world’s second largest palm oil exporter.

Today, the national production curve has unfortunately reversed. The DRC has become an importer and the production deficit is growing: it is estimated at 30% of national demand and barely 60 000 hectares of palm plantations are currently exploited.

This deficit is widening year by year for two reasons:

  • Increasing industrial demand (soap-making, refining, margarine production, etc.);
  • Growing demographic pressure.

Agriculture, the DRC’s leading economic sector, represents about 5% of the country’s GDP and employs nearly 64% of its active workforce.


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