The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as the Republic of Zaire, is geographically the largest state in Southern and Central Africa. It is situated at the heart of Africa, and lies on the Equator, covering an area of 2,345,095 km². The DRC has 37 kilometres of coastline and a geography characterised by a vast central basin low-lying plateau rising to volcanoes and mountains in the east. More than half the country is covered by dense tropical rainforest. The country is traversed by numerous rivers with the Congo River being the largest.
The DRC has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons; the 'dry season' (18 to 27oC ) called 'Congolese Winter', which is from June to August. The 'rainy season' (22 to 33oC) runs from September to May with its heavy, monsoon rains. Temperatures are hot and humid in the central region, cooler and drier in the southern highlands, and cooler and wetter in the eastern highlands.
Agricultural production in the DRC is comprised of cropping activities (79%), fisheries (12%), and livestock production (9%). Close to 66% of the total agricultural land is devoted to pasture and 34% to crop land. The agricultural sector occupies a predominant place in the Congolese economy. Agriculture production in DRC is mainly focused on:
- Food production - including especially cereals, roots, tubers, oil plants, vegetables and leguminous plants
- Modern farm estates - involved in revenue or export cultures especially coffee, cotton, tea, rubber, palm oils, cocoa, hevea, quinquina, onion, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables
- Production of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry and
- Forest products
The DRC has approximately 135 million hectares of arable land of which only 10% is developed. The war and insecurity that have beset the country have adversely affected the performance of the, agricultural sector. Agriculture represents one of the largest employment options for citizens of the DRC and is a major contributor to the countries GDP. Still, domestic food production is insufficient to meet the country’s needs, and many basic food products have to be imported.