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Organic Agriculture in Africa - data 2017

Current status

There were almost 2.1 million hectares of agricultural land in 2017, which is 0.2 percent of the continent’s total agricultural area and 3 percent of the global organic agricultural area. The organic agricultural land in Africa has increased by nearly 255’000 hectares or 14 percent compared to 2016, and it increased by more than 2 million hectares from the 52’000 hectares in 2000. In 2017, 44 countries reported data on organic activities. Tunisia is the country with the largest organic area, with almost 306’500 hectares, and Uganda is the country with the highest number of organic producers, with over 210’000. The country with the highest organic share of the total agricultural land is the island state of Sao Tome and Principe, with 18 percent of its agricultural area being organic, followed by Tunisia with 3 percent and Egypt with 2.8 percent.

Land use

In 2017, over half of all organic agricultural land was used for permanent crops (almost 1.3 million hectares) in Africa. Almost 30 percent was used for arable crops (over 599’000 hectares), and almost two percent (over 82’700 hectares) was grassland/grazing area. For 8 percent of the organic agricultural land, no details were available.
Tunisia (274’000 hectares, mainly olives), Uganda (almost 170’700 hectares, mainly cocoa), Ethiopia (161’000 hectares mainly coffee), Kenya (over 127’000 hectares, mainly nuts and coconuts), and the United Republic of Tanzania (almost 107’000 hectares, mainly coffee) had the largest organic permanent crop areas. The key organic permanent crop is coffee, with over 373’000 hectares reported, 12.4 percent of the total coffee area of the region. The largest organic coffee areas are in Ethiopia (over 160’000 hectares) and Tanzania (almost 82’000 hectares). The organic coffee area has increased 20-fold since 2004; some of the increase can be attributed to the continually improving data availability. Cocoa was grown on almost 111’000 hectares, and it has grown 64-fold since 2004, representing 2.3 percent of the continent’s cocoa area. The largest areas of organic cocoa are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (51’900 hectares), Sierra Leone (43’300 hectares), and Uganda (over 19’000 hectares).
Almost thirty percent of the organic farmland was used for arable crops, most of which are oilseeds (almost 236’500 hectares, 0.9 percent of the total oilseed area; mainly sesame), textile crops (119’000 hectares, 2.3 percent of the region’s total cotton area), and cereals. Nearly 60 percent of the region’s cotton is found in the United Republic of Tanzania (almost 68’500 hectares), followed by Sudan (15’000 hectares). Since 2004, the organic cotton area grew 12-fold. Cereals were grown on over 66’000 hectares in 2017; the key producing countries were the United Republic of Tanzania (almost 51’000 hectares), Egypt (over 8’000 hectares), and Senegal (almost 3’700 hectares).


There were at least 815’000 organic producers in Africa. The countries with the most organic producers are Uganda (over 210’000), Ethiopia (over 203’000), and the United Republic of Tanzania (148’000). It can be assumed that the number of producers is higher because some countries only report the number of farm enterprises/companies.

Wild collection

Wild collection has an important role in Africa with over 14.3 million hectares certified as organic in 2017. Zambia is the country with the largest area (more than 5.9 million hectares, mainly beekeeping), followed by the United Republic of Tanzania (2.4 million hectares, mainly beekeeping), Namibia (1.3 million hectares, mainly devil’s claw), South Africa (1.3 million hectares, mainly devil’s claw), Mozambique (more than 844’000 hectares, mainly coconuts), and Somalia (over 807’000 hectares, mainly natural gums). Medicinal plants, such as devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) are the commodities that have the largest area (over 2.5 million hectares), followed by oil plants (almost 737’000 hectares), such as argan. Beekeeping is the key activity in organic wild collection in Africa with almost 7.8 million hectares. Zambia is the country with the largest wild collection area used for organic beekeeping with 5.9 million hectares, representing 67 percent of the total beekeeping area.

Source: The World of Organic Agriculture 2019



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