• The Democratic Republic of Congo is listed by the UN as one of the 50 poorest countries in the world. The IMF reported average per capita income in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008 was just $194.
• Investment in creating income-generating opportunities for the Congolese people is one of the fastest and most sustainable way to lift citizens out of the cycle of poverty, offering tremendous potential for increasing stability, and opening doors to improved health and education.
• A focus on agriculture can help the Congolese capitalize on DRC’s rich potential and help develop a wider economic base that puts Congolese to work.
• DRC currently has 80 million hectares of arable land. According to the World Food Programme, only 1-3% of DRC’s arable land is being utilized.
• According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, DRC is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of arable land: if that land was farmed successfully, it could feed one third of the global population.
Investment in economic development means creating income-generating opportunities for the Congolese people. This is the fastest and most sustainable way to lift citizens out of the cycle of poverty and offers tremendous potential for increasing stability in the region and opens doors to improved health, education and a more just society.
Specifically, investment in agricultural opportunity is crucial for the development of the DRC. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI),
“In a country where food is still a challenge for most citizens, agriculture employs 70% of the working population. Agriculture must play the leading role in the development of this country, because no other sector can provide as much manpower today.”
Growth in the agricultural sector can revolutionize local communities and in the aggregate, the vibrancy of the economy in the region. Research has shown that alongside education, agriculture forms the foundation of most post-conflict economies. Small investments in capacity building for farmers with crops in demand in turn stimulates demand for goods and workers while at the same time reducing and stabilizing the price of food.
Agriculture will be a catalyst for stability and progress, however a balance is needed to address one of the biggest issues facing rural farmers: food security. Staple and domestic crops must grow alongside cash crops: this will increase income while decreasing food insecurity. The DRC has been rated one of the most food insecure countries in the world. It was once considered the breadbasket of Central Africa, but as a result of 15 years of war and insecurity nearly all cash crop plantations have either been destroyed or overgrown. Today, farmers are struggling to return what’s left of them to their former production levels.
AgCLIR: Democratic Republic of the Congo (USAID) - Commercial Legal and Institutional Reform Diagnostic of Democratic Republic of Congo’s Agricultural Sector (2010)
Foreign Agricultural Investment Country Profile: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - A report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) (2012)
Resilience of an African Giant: Boosting Growth and Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - A report by the World Bank (2012)
 Huart, Alain, “Institutional context of agricultural reform of Democratic Republic of Congo Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.” International Food Policy Research Institute