8 November 2000





Living standards in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been declining since the mid-1970s, largely due to poor economic management and civil strife. The situation has been aggravated by the war since 1998 with associated massive population displacements. In 1998, per capita income was estimated at US$110, among the lowest in the world. GNP growth rates of -14.7 percent in 1999 and -5.5 percent in the first semester of 2000 show continuing declines in living conditions. In Kinshasa, 70 percent of the population, which is currently estimated at between 6-7 million, cannot afford US$1 a day for food. Chronic malnutrition affects 18 percent of children in the inner city and over 30 percent in the outskirts where war-displaced people have been settling.

In reaction to this mounting economic and food security crisis, the Government of DRC requested FAO to send a mission to assess the food situation in the capital city, Kinshasa, and the surrounding provinces of Bas-Congo and Bandundu, which supply a significant proportion of the city's food requirements. An assessment of the situation for the whole country could not be undertaken due to the on-going war.

The FAO Mission visited the country from 20 September to 10 October 2000, and was assisted by four national consultants. Before proceeding to the field, the Mission had discussions with senior officials in Ministries of Agriculture, Planning and National Reconstruction, Manpower, and Finance. Resident UN and bilateral missions were also consulted, including UNDP, WFP, OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the European Union, and the Belgian, Italian and US Embassies. At the provincial level, the Mission met the Governor and staff of Bas-Congo, and the Mayors of Boma (Bas-Congo) and Kikwit (Bandundu). Traders, shippers and representatives of farmers' associations were also interviewed.

From an analysis of the available data on domestic food supply and requirements, the Mission estimates Kinshasa's food deficit in 2000 at 1 million tonnes compared to 954 000 tonnes in 1999. Food aid currently being provided targets the most vulnerable groups such as children and the war-displaced people, while the hungry poor must fend for themselves. Coping mechanisms such as eating less food, having fewer meals and growing vegetables in household compounds have been stretched to the limit.

The main factors constraining food supply to Kinshasa include the extreme state of disrepair of the road infrastructure, particularly the Kinshasa-Matadi and Kinshasa-Kikwit roads, as well as feeder roads; police/military harassment of shippers, traders and farmers; the cut-off of food supply from Equateur and Eastern Provinces due to the ongoing war; the scarcity of fuel due to a shortage of foreign exchange; and the overvalued official exchange rate which is pushing business transactions to the parallel market.

The Mission recommends that the Government should move to enforce its directives against police/military harassment and illegal levies at road check points, ports and market places. Secondly, it should unify the official and parallel exchange rates by devaluation of the Congolese franc. This should result in increases in tax revenues and supply of hard currency in the banking system, and hence the supply of currently scarce imported commodities such as fuel.

While revamping the whole transport infrastructure is a long term endeavour, donors should assist the Government to urgently repair critical sections of main roads leading to Kinshasa, with priority given to the Bangu-Tumba section (109 km) on the Matadi road, and the Mosango-Masimanimba and Kwango-Kenge sections totalling 80 km on the Kikwit road. This will be a major step towards restoring the normal flow of foodstuffs to the capital. In addition, assistance to provincial authorities and local communities for feeder road maintenance should be substantially increased.

The international community should also urge the Government and rebel groups in the ongoing conflict to establish humanitarian corridors, which would allow a resumption of food and other trade between Kinshasa and the eastern and northern provinces. For Kinshasa, the establishment of such a corridor with Equateur Province would have immediate beneficial effects on food supply as considerable stocks of cassava, maize and palm oil are reported to be available in that province.



2.1 Macroeconomic context

The Democratic Republic of Congo, despite its large size on 2 268 000 km² of mostly fertile land and its considerable mineral and forest resources, has not managed to provide a decent standard of living for its population, estimated at 46.19 million in 1999. Per capita GNP has steadily decreased over the years since the early 1970s and was a mere US$110 in real terms in 1998, among the lowest in the world. Economic decline has been accelerated by spurts of civil strife in 1991 and 1993, and the outbreak of the current war in 1998 which has led to de facto partition of the country into government-controlled provinces and rebel-held areas. This has virtually stopped domestic trade flows between the two parts of the country. Thus, the GNP growth rate fell from -3.7 percent in 1998 to -14.7 percent in 1999. No improvement is expected in the year 2000, as the rate during the first semester stands at -5.3 percent1.

The GNP decline during the last three years reflects the sharp production contractions in the main economic sectors. In particular, in the two-year period 1998-1999, copper production fell by 18 percent, cobalt 40 percent, and diamonds 23 percent as shown in Table 1 below2. Likewise, production of coffee and palm oil, the main agricultural exports, dropped by 34 percent and 30 percent respectively during the same period.

Table 1. DRC: Commodity Exports, 1998-2000

(% change)
Mineral production
Copper (tonnes)
38 236
31 225
13 620
Cobalt (tonnes)
3 871
2 308
1 768
Diamond (`000 carats)
26 083
20 116
10 426
Gold (kg)
Export crops
Coffee (tonnes)
37 092
24 430
7 803
Palm oil (tonnes)
6 102
4 245
3 131

Source: Banque Nationale du Congo.

The industrial sector is similarly shrinking rapidly, with employee layoffs and outright closures of firms. The unstable environment has discouraged investment and even the maintenance of existing infrastructure and capital stock. However, while industrial production has generally been declining, there have been significant increases in production of some consumer goods, such as soap (35 percent) cooking oil (28 percent), shoes (49 percent) attributable to the resumption of trade with Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Congo3. The poor performance of the economy does not allow the Government to collect enough revenues to finance investment in economic and social infrastructure, and regular governmental functions, in addition to spending on the current war. For instance, Government revenues for the first semester of 2000 were only 3 347 million CDF4, while expenditures totalled 6 069 million CDF. The 2 722 CDF deficit has been financed mostly through expansion in the money supply.

The exchange rate was officially set at 24.74 CDF to US$1 in June 2000, while the parallel market rate was estimated at 51.50 CDF, according to the Banque Centrale du Congo. In September 2000, the parallel market rate was around 90 CDF while the official rate remained unchanged.

The use of an overvalued exchange rate in government and formal business transactions has had the adverse effect of driving hard currency out of the banking system and government coffers on to the parallel market, exacerbating the scarcity of such essential products as fuel whose prices are controlled through the official exchange rate. In February 2000, an IMF mission recommended, among other things, harmonisation of the official and parallel exchange rates for the Congolese franc and the gradual lifting of price controls, particularly of petroleum products. The Government agreed to implement these recommendations, but the official exchange rate remains in place and petroleum prices remain tied to it.

2.2 Effects of the war on agricultural production

Shrinking revenues, a dearth of hard currency and the ongoing war which has preoccupied Government attention and resource allocation, have not allowed any significant investment in agriculture. For fiscal year 1999/2000, planned overall investment represented only 4 percent of Government budget of which very little was allocated to agriculture. With the exception of such limited Government efforts as the promotion of food production on the Bateke Plateau near Kinshasa, past and present agricultural projects have generally been financed by international organisations, bilateral assistance, NGOs, and, occasionally, provincial governments.

But external assistance to agriculture has had limited impact, due to the politically and economically unstable environment. Farming communities have been subjected to frequent displacements since the 1991 and 1993 civil uprisings up to the current war which started in 1998. The displacements have resulted in overcrowding on marginal land such as in the peri-urban areas around Kinshasa. Many farms have been abandoned and some agro-industrial companies, notably in the Bas-Congo and Bandundu provinces, have but ceased all activities, while perennial crops on estates have reverted to bush, and feeder roads for which they were responsible have fallen into disrepair. These factors have led to steadily declining agricultural production.



Kinshasa is in a food crisis due to, among other things, a sharp increase in its population in recent years, pervasive poverty, and grossly inadequate food supply in the face of ever growing needs. Kinshasa's population is currently estimated at between 6-7 million5. Its growth rate, which was 4.7 percent per annum during most of the 1990s has accelerated since 1998 with the outbreak of the war which has been forcing large numbers of people to flock to the city's relative safety. The newcomers settle on marginal land in the city's outskirts or join relatives in the already impoverished and overcrowded households in the inner city. A 1999 study concluded that 50 to 57 percent of Kinshasa's population lived on less than US$1 a day per person, and that 85 to 89 percent spent more than 50 percent of their income on food. A survey conducted by CEPLANUT in June 2000 reveals a dramatic worsening of the situation, as nearly 70 percent of Kinshasa residents could not afford US$1 a day for food. Wage employment is scarce and dwindling as a result of continued economic decline, and households derive over 70 percent of their meagre incomes from informal activities. Inflation is constantly eroding their purchasing power which, according to OCHA, has plummeted by 45 percent since 1998.

The same study cites high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children over 30 percent of whom suffer from chronic malnutrition and stunted growth in the suburbs compared to 18 percent in the inner city. Table 2 and Charts 1 and 2 give an indication of the gap between estimated food needs and food availability in Kinshasa in 1999. Calculation of Kinshasa's food needs was based on household budget studies carried out in 1996 (quoted by OCHA)6 while calculation of availabilities was based on a methodology used in 1991 by the Bureau d'etudes. The table shows a deficit of 954 000 tonnes, nearly twice as much as the locally available supply. Cassava flour shows the largest gap.

Table 2. Kinshasa: Food Needs and Availability in 1999

Food items
Food needs
Food available
Cassava flour
522 013
200 832
83 516
30 579
113 090
21 876
115 990
78 028
152 826
23 917
46 405
25 425
58 006
1 590
23 202
3 316
291 765
67 622
1 407 000
453 000

Source: See footnotes 6 and 7.
Source: See footnotes 6 and 7.

For the year 2000, the Mission estimates food needs at 1 510 000 tonnes but no change in locally available foodstuffs. This results in a gap of just over 1 million tonnes compared to 954 000 tonnes in 1999. A rapid survey conducted during the second week of October 2000 by the Mission on 10 selected Kinshasa ports8 - representing about 60 percent of river traffic arriving in the city - reveals continuous and at times drastic declines in the quantities landed at these ports (Table 3).

Table 3. DRC: Food Quantities Landed at Selected Kinshasa Ports, 1998-2000

2000/1998 (%)
Cassava (tonnes)
7 240
5 320
2 200
Maize (tonnes)
4 188
3 679
1 876
Beans (tonnes)
Groundnuts (tonnes)
2 075
1 250
Palm oil (200 l barrels)

1/ Forecast

It should be noted that since the beginning of the war in 1998, supplies to Kinshasa from rebel held areas, notably Equateur Province, Oriental Province, Nord-Kivu and parts of Kasaï Province, which accounted for a large share of the total supplies to the city, have been cut off.

Given the large shortfalls in local food supply, commensurate increases in quantities of imports might be expected. Unfortunately, food imports in general have also been declining substantially since 1997 (Table 4).

Table 4. Kinshasa: Trends in Food Imports, 1995-2000 (tonnes)

Maize (grain)
156 733
22 001
3 558
5 990
2 834
Maize flour
13 627
5 715
1 723
10 179
47 614
54 040
97 981
41 962
49 015
76 108
221 817
67 460
113 802
132 116
Wheat flour
88 156
26 553
291 922
81 098
185 662
70 890
132 910
70 442
170 897
186 420
15 131
14 602
15 168
15 406
17 919
3 476
28 110
33 866
Salt fish
4 275
2 723
7 573
5 543
1 012
Frozen fish
91 766
87 006
104 970
112 657
59 167
Meat products
11 610
13 207
32 495
23 736
9 666
12 580
Milk products
12 020
8 802
11 488
10 597
63 060
2 788
721 812
380 787
861 723
651 883
421 072
224 623

Source: OFIDA, MonthlyBulletin of Statistics, June 2000
1/ The year 2000 figures run up to 30 June only.

If 1998 could still be considered a normal year for food imports with 651 883 tonnes, they dropped by 35 percent to 421 072 tonnes in 1999. If imports continued at the same pace as in the first half of the year, total imports would reach some 449 000 tonnes for the whole of 2000. However, given the worsening foreign exchange position, actual imports are likely to be lower. In addition, previous studies, including OCHA's in July 2000, assume that 15 percent of the food imports are shipped to or consumed in neighbouring provinces. Taking these factors into account, the Mission estimates Kinshasa's food imports in 2000 at 380 000 tonnes.

The estimated imports (380 000 tonnes) and domestic supplies (453 000 tonnes) add up to 833 000 tonnes, which falls far short of the 1 510 000 tonnes needed. The huge gap (677 000 tonnes) means that whatever food is available is thinly spread, and that the vast majority of Kinshasa dwellers are seriously short of food, which explains the widespread malnutrition.


4. Constraints to Kinshasa's food supply

Foremost among the factors constraining food supply to Kinshasa are the inadequacy of food production in Kinshasa's hinterland, notably the Bateke plateau, the extreme degradation of transport infrastructure in the neighbouring Bas-Congo and Bandundu Provinces, police/military harassment of transporters, traders and farmers, particularly in Bandundu Province, the cut-off of food supply from the Equateur and Eastern Provinces, and the scarce and dwindling foreign exchange for food and fuel imports. These factors will be briefly commented on in turn.

Kinshasa and its hinterland are generally known not to be suitable for agriculture because of their sandy soils with low water retention and poor organic matter content. This is particularly true in the Bateke Plateau which suffers from chronic water shortage and where ground water irrigation could be prohibitively expensive. Use of fertilizer and appropriate farming methods such as timely planting to take advantage of available rainfall are required. For many small farmers, including Kinshasa dwellers being allocated plots by the Government, it is difficult to practise financially profitable and environmentally sustainable farming in the Bateke Plateau. A manager of a major food importing company, now engaged in large-scale agricultural production, told the Mission his company was set to plant in 2000/01 some 1 500 hectares of maize on part of the land it had been allocated in the Bateke Plateau. The company has sophisticated farm equipment, agricultural engineers, agronomists and technicians, as well as substantial stocks of fertilizers and spray chemicals. But it was yet to get the needed fuel. It expects yields of 3 tonnes/ha, which it says would be profitable but only if it concentrated on maize seed, rather than maize for direct consumption. Small and medium-scale farmers being settled on the Bateke Plateau could not hope to be successful with their limited means and traditional farming practices.

To avert Kinshasa's food crisis in the meantime, other options should be urgently considered. They include addressing some of the major constraints the Mission noted in Bas-Congo and Bandundu provinces, the capital's traditional suppliers of local foodstuffs. Degradation of road infrastructure has reached a critical level in these provinces, particularly along the main roads linking them to Kinshasa, as well as feeder roads which provide market outlets for agricultural produce from the hinterland. A shipping company told the Mission that in 1995, its fleet of 16 lorries could ferry from the port of Matadi (Bas-Congo's capital) to Kinshasa 4 000 tonnes of imported goods monthly, with each lorry making an average of eight round trips a month, and carrying back timber, coffee and other export crops for shipment overseas. Nowadays, with 23 lorries, the company can only move 2 800 tonnes from Matadi to Kinshasa, as it takes about a week for a lorry to complete a round trip of the 300 km road, and most often returning empty to Matadi. Maintenance costs and the risk of wrecking vehicles on such bad roads are very high, while the company's cash-flow has dwindled. The high transport costs account for between 25-30 percent of consumer prices in Kinshasa9. Private sector transporters met by the Mission strongly urged immediate repair, not of the entire Matadi-Kishasa road (which could be done gradually), but of a key section of it, from Bangu to Tumba (109 km), in order to restore a minimum of fair driving conditions on that vital link to the Atlantic Ocean.

Table 5: DRC - Mode of Transport of Foodstuffs to Kinshasa, before 1998

Food items
Mode of transport
1. Bas-Congo
Cassava, beans, bananas, bush meat, palm oil, meat, sugar, wheat flour, potatoes, vegetables
Tshela- Boma-matadi-Mbanza-Ng.-Kinshasa; kimvula-Inkisi-Kinshasa
Most of the Matadi-Kinshasa road now in extreme state of disrepair.
Rail had antiquated equipment
2. Bandundu
Cassava, maize, groundnuts, bananas, palm oil, fish
Popokabaka- Kasongolunda-Feshi-Kikwit-Masi-Manimba-Kenge-Kinshasa
Kikwit-Kinshasa road in extreme state of degradation
Mangai-Kwa-Kinshasa; Lukenie-Mfini-Kwamuthu-Kinshasa
3. Equateur
Cassava, maize, rice, groundnuts, bananas, palm oil, bush meat, fish
Supply cut off since the outbreak of the war in 1998
4. P.Orientale
Rice, beans, meat, fish, potatoes, vegetables
5. Nord-Kivu
Meat, vegetables, potatoes
Road and river
6. Kasaï-Oriental
Road and river

Likewise, portions of the Kikwit - Kinshasa main road need urgent repair, the most crucial being the Mosango - Masimanimba section (30 km) and the Kwango - Kenge section (50 km), according to members of the Bandundu business community.

It should however be noted that some repair work was underway on both the Kinshasa - Kikwit and Kinshasa - Matadi roads during the Mission, but starting from Kinshasa and not on the key sections suggested by the business community.

With Kinshasa's road links becoming increasingly unfit for commercial transport, river shipping is taking on increasing importance in Bandundu, particularly from ports along the Kasaï and Kwilu rivers. River shipping, however, although costing only 20 percent of the carried load (compared to 50 percent for road transport), takes at least twice as long as road transport, and is not suitable for highly perishable products such as fish, fruits and vegetables. It is also being hampered by the shortage of fuel and boats, as well as the ageing infrastructure in many of the ports.

Rail transport in Bas-Congo Province should, like river transport in the Bandundu Province, be an option for the shipment of foodstuffs and other goods from Matadi and other localities to Kinshasa. However, antiquated equipment and lack of locomotives (only 4 are now in operation, whereas 10 would be the minimum needed) have rendered rail transport unreliable, reduced its transport share (as against road transport) from about 70 percent some 10 years ago to less than 30 percent presently, despite the disastrous state of road transport.

The need to urgently repair key feeder roads cannot be overemphasized. Farmers and officials in Bas-Congo and Bandundu Provinces informed the Mission that only about 15 percent of food production from isolated and distant localities, some representing major food producing areas, reach any market outlet. Recent experience in both provinces show that the repair/maintenance of feeder roads in some localities has triggered intense trading of locally-produced foodstuffs. While various donors have supported feeder road rehabilitation programmes, the need remains great.

Police and military harassment at road checkpoints in the provinces and at Kinshasa ports and parking lots is a serious constraint to Kinshasa's food supply. It is widely condemned by the business community, civil society and Government officials. It involves many illegal levies on goods being transported. The worst affected is the Kikwit-Kinshasa road, which transporters say has 32 police and military checkpoints. The amount of illegal levies depends on the value of the commodities being transported, but the minimum per vehicle was said to be 100 FC in September 2000. In one Kinshasa port, the Mission observed that at landing, bags of 80 kg of cassava were priced 1 500 CDF; by the time they exited the port, they cost 2 200 CDF, most of the 700 CDF differential being due to illegal levies.

The overvalued exchange rate for the Congolese franc, officially at 24.74 CDF per US$1 since June 2000, does not seem to be achieving the government goal of providing basic goods and services at reasonable prices. Rather, it has contributed to foreign currency scarcity by encouraging parallel market transactions where the rate is 3 to 4 times higher. The continuously deteriorating foreign reserve position means declining food and fuel imports, aggravating the already severe transport problems. Harmonization of the two exchange rates and gradual liberalisation of fuel prices, as recommended by the IMF, need to be addressed.



The severe shortage of food in Kinshasa, coupled with runaway inflation, is driving up the prices of basic foodstuffs, with dramatic increases in recent months. Thus, from June to August 2000, the price per kg of cassava flour increased 35 percent, that of maize flour 37 percent, and that of cassava leaves 325 percent as shown in Table 6 and Chart 3 below.

Table 6. Kinshasa: Monthly average retail prices of basic foodstuffs (CDF/kg), January-August 2000

Aug/June 2000 (%)
Cassava flour
Maize flour
Cassava leaves
Dried beans
Fresh fish
Source : IRES (Institute for Economic and Social Research)

Poor market information is another factor hindering trade in basic foodstuffs. Farmers in remote villages and traders in provincial towns seldom know about prevailing prices in Kinshasa. Also, concerns about inflation and the scarcity of basic consumer goods has led to an increase in barter trade, with traders bringing such items as soap, cloth, kerosene and salt, to exchange with commodities the farmer brings to the market.

Access to food for the majority of Kinshasa residents has become exceedingly difficult, particularly for the unemployed, wage earners and those with fixed incomes. The OCHA July 2000 study concludes that money incomes that had remained unchanged since September 1999 had by June 2000 lost 73 percent of their purchasing power. Whatever income adjustments are made from time to time in the private and public sectors lag far behind the inflation rate. The practice of using the official exchange rate to determine local salaries by some employers further reduces the purchasing power of their employees.

Overall, therefore, the purchasing power of Kinshasa's population is rapidly deteriorating. The OCHA study cites a December 1999 rapid survey which calculated that a family of seven in Kinshasa needed about US$12.2 a day or US$370 a month for its standard food basket whereas average household income was only US$70 a month.

Chronic malnutrition affects 18 percent of children under 5 years in the inner city and over 30 percent in the outskirts where large numbers of people keep flocking, particularly from the war zones. According to UNDP, Kinshasa's per capita daily caloric intake is 1000 kcal short of the recommended 2200 kcal for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Current food assistance, mainly provided by the UN and bilateral agencies, targets children, the most vulnerable group, lactating mothers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable groups. The majority of the hungry poor have to fend for themselves.

The severe food shortage in Kinshasa is to a large extent attributable to the cut-off of food supply from the Equateur and Eastern provinces since the outbreak of the war in 1998. Re-establishment of supply routes between Kinshasa and these provinces, particularly with Equateur Province where large stocks of cassava, maize and palm oil are reported to be available for shipment, would considerably ease the food supply situation in Kinshasa. It would also allow a resumption of shipments of manufactured products to these provinces. Although, it is unlikely to happen as long as the war situation continues, this re-establishment of supply routes should be studied, notably in the framework of the Lusaka Agreement.



6.1 Main features

Food crops in Bas-Congo, Bandundu and Kinshasa provinces are mainly produced by farm families using traditional methods and simple hand tools. Shifting cultivation is still commonly practised and little use is made of chemical fertilizers or improved seeds.

There are two main cropping seasons: Season A stretching from September top January, and season B from February to June. Principal food crops include cassava (the main staple), maize, rice, groundnuts, beans, bananas and coco yams particularly in Bas-Congo province. Vegetables are produced in the low lands during the dry season as well as around the main cities and in household compounds.

Kinshasa and its hinterland have generally sandy, low-fertility soils where water can be a limiting factor for agricultural production such as in the Bateke Plateau. In Bas-Congo Province, high population density (55 inhabitants per km²) has led to a substantial reduction in farm sizes and the shortening of the fallow period to two years in some areas. Farmers the Mission met in the Bas-Fleuve region did not have enough land of their own and had to be granted plots on a temporary basis in neighbouring villages.

6.2 Trends in food production

From 1990 to 1996, food crop production increased at an annual rate of 2 percent in the provinces under review, compared to a population growth rate of 3.3 percent. The poor performance in food production is in large part attributable to the suspension of donor assistance following the 1991 and 1993 looting of research stations and extension facilities for seed production and distribution. Table 7 shows trends in production of major food staples.

Table 7. Bandundu, Kinshasa, Bas-Congo Provinces: Trends in Food Production, 1991/92-1995/96 (tonnes)

6 190 207
6 027 281
5 770 118
5 620 825
5 222 460
5 766 178
206 987
221 033
231 641
188 012
207 346
211 004
63 228
64 444
65 906
39 435
45 340
55 671
165 831
179 727
174 778
162 660
141 582
164 916
249 335
257 433
257 245
81 548
78 457
184 804
21 006
21 507
22 009
14 379
15 231
18 826.4

Source: Statistiques SNSA

Civil strife and war since 1997, the deteriorating road and rail infrastructure, shortages of inputs and the resurgence of cassava diseases, have accelerated the decline in food production.

Production in 1999/2000 has in addition been affected by late rains followed by floods in Bas-Congo and Kinshasa provinces, as well as inadequate extension outreach. Thus, compared to 1998/99, the total area planted was reduced by 2.8 percent as shown in Table 8.

Table 8. Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Kinshasa Provinces: Area Cultivated in 1998/99 and 1999/2000 (hectares)

% change
578 823
560 049
307 953
304 098
52 837
50 994
174 075
167 920
27 191
26 832
43 872
41 171
1 184 751
1 151 064

: Statistiques SNSA

The decline was more pronounced for beans, rice and cassava. Seed distribution by humanitarian agencies and NGOs with FAO technical assistance, mitigated the fall in the area planted to maize.

Total crop production in the three provinces in 1999/2000 is estimated at 5 292 000 tonnes, of which cassava accounts for 4 765 000 tonnes or 90 percent. The maize share amounts to 223 000 tonnes or 4 percent. A breakdown of production by province is given in Table 9 below.

Table 9. Estimated 1999/2000 food crop production (tonnes) by province

1 250 000
189 557
24 027
43 726
123 459
6 255
1 637 024
Bas Congo
3 500 000
19 902
17 700
56 552
13 427
13 886
3 621 467
15 040
13 590
2 289
2 743
33 804
4 765 040
223 049
44 016
100 278
139 629
20 283
5 292 295

: Statistiques SNSA et estimation de la Mission

Table 10. Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Kinshasa Provinces: 1999/2000 food crop production compared to 1991/92-1995/96 and 1998/99 production (tonnes)

1999/2000 (1)
1998/99 (2)
1991/92-1995/96 (3)
1999/2000 (4)
4 765 040
5 073 005
5 766 178
8 413 640
267 065
353 550
266 675
416 702
100 278
101 619
184 804
284 251
159 912
165 827
183 742
390 846
5 292 295
5 694 001
6 401 399
9 505 439

Source: Statistiques SNSA

Compared to 1998/99 and the 1991/92-1995/96 pre-war period, production in 1999/2000 has decreased by 17 and 7 percent respectively; it falls short of the government target by 44 percent as indicated in Table 10.

Yields were adversely affected by floods, poor-quality seeds and plant diseases. The reduced production of cassava, the main staple, is of great concern, particularly following the suspension of related research programmes and the distribution of cassava cuttings resistant to the cassava mosaic disease. An estimated 80 percent of cassava losses are caused by the mosaic disease and 10 percent by cassava mealie bug. Traditional cassava varieties are more susceptible to diseases and pests than the newly introduced varieties, although presently the latter cover only 5 to 10 percent of the areas under cassava. It is imperative that the cassava research and extension programmes be resumed and strengthened to boost production of this important staple crop.

6.3 Vegetable production

Faced with a severe food shortage, a growing number of Kinshasa dwellers have resorted to vegetable production, mostly within their compounds. According to the Service National de l'Horticulture, the number of specialist vegetable growers in Kinshasa has increased from 7 255 in 1996 to 12 058 in 2000.

6.4 Livestock production

Cattle rearing is mainly in the Eastern Provinces which are in rebel hands. With supplies from Bandundu and Bas-Congo hampered by bad road conditions, per capita beef consumption in Kinshasa has decreased from 7.5 kg to 3 kg in the last two years, according to SNSA. Prices have soared from 120 CDF/kg to 500 CDF/kg during the same period. There is a shift to less expensive items such as fish and chicken, given the population's low purchasing power. To boost supplies, the government imported 800 000 day-old chicks between October 1999 and March 2000.

Fish farming has also incurred heavy losses during the civil uprisings and war. According to SNSA, about 30 major fish farmers have abandoned their ponds. Research and extension activities on fish farming as well as the production of fingerlings have all stopped. However, the Government has designed a programme which is expected to produce 1 437 tonnes of fish in 2001 in the Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Kinshasa provinces. But the government's budget constraints make it unlikely that the programme will be fully implemented.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO Secretariat with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, ESCG, FAO, (Telex 610181 FAO I; Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495, E-Mail (INTERNET): GIEWS1@FAO.ORG ) for further information if required.

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1 Banque Centrale du Congo `Condensé d'informations statistiques' N°23/2000, 15 septembre 2000 et `Évolution économique et financière récente' Septembre 2000.

2 The diamond and gold figures do not include substantial quantities smuggled out of the country.

3 Banque Nationale du Congo, op. cit .

4 Ibid.

5 Population projections by INS (Institut national des statistiques) put Kinshasa's population at about 6 million for 2000 based on a growth rate of 4,7 percent per annum, while UNFP estimates it at 7 million.

6 OCHA RDC `Impact Humanitaire de l'Environnement Socio-économique : Tendances et faits marquant pour la ville de Kinshasa', Mission de programmation pour la relance du secteur agricole et rural (MIPRO), 1996.

7 Bureau d'études, d'aménagement et d'urbanisme (BEAU), 1991. Complementary information comes from CEPLANUT and UNICEF studies, 1993.


9 Derived from `Plan triennal de relance du secteur agricole pour la région urbaine de Kinshasa - 1998' p. 304 and data provided to the Mission by AFRITANS in Matadi.