Arable land (hectares per person) - Country Ranking - Africa

Definition: Arable land (hectares per person) includes land defined by the FAO as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site.

See also: Thematic map, Time series comparison

Find indicator:
Rank Country Value Year
1 Niger 0.84 2015
2 Central African Republic 0.40 2015
3 Sudan 0.39 2014
4 Mali 0.37 2015
5 Togo 0.36 2015
6 Chad 0.35 2015
7 Burkina Faso 0.33 2015
8 Namibia 0.33 2015
9 Libya 0.28 2015
10 Cameroon 0.27 2015
11 Tunisia 0.26 2015
12 Guinea 0.26 2015
13 Benin 0.26 2015
14 Zimbabwe 0.25 2015
15 Tanzania 0.25 2015
16 Zambia 0.24 2015
17 Morocco 0.23 2015
18 South Africa 0.23 2015
19 The Gambia 0.22 2015
20 Sierra Leone 0.22 2015
21 Malawi 0.22 2015
22 Senegal 0.21 2015
23 Mozambique 0.20 2015
24 Nigeria 0.19 2015
25 Algeria 0.19 2015
26 Botswana 0.18 2015
27 Angola 0.18 2015
28 Uganda 0.17 2015
29 Ghana 0.17 2015
30 Guinea-Bissau 0.17 2015
31 Gabon 0.17 2015
32 Eritrea 0.15 2011
33 Ethiopia 0.15 2015
34 Madagascar 0.14 2015
35 Swaziland 0.13 2015
36 Côte d'Ivoire 0.13 2015
37 Lesotho 0.13 2015
38 Kenya 0.12 2015
39 Burundi 0.12 2015
40 Liberia 0.11 2015
41 Congo 0.11 2015
42 Mauritania 0.11 2015
43 Equatorial Guinea 0.10 2015
44 Rwanda 0.10 2015
45 Cabo Verde 0.09 2015
46 Dem. Rep. Congo 0.09 2015
47 Comoros 0.08 2015
48 Somalia 0.08 2015
49 Mauritius 0.06 2015
50 São Tomé and Principe 0.04 2015
51 Egypt 0.03 2015
52 Djibouti 0.00 2015
53 Seychelles 0.00 2015

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Development Relevance: Agricultural land covers about one-third of the world's land area, with arable land representing less than one-third of agricultural land (about 10 percent of the world's land area). Agricultural land constitutes only a part of any country's total area, which can include areas not suitable for agriculture, such as forests, mountains, and inland water bodies. Agriculture is still a major sector in many economies, and agricultural activities provide developing countries with food and revenue. But agricultural activities also can degrade natural resources. Poor farming practices can cause soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. Efforts to increase productivity by using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and intensive irrigation have environmental costs and health impacts. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can alter the chemistry of soil. Pesticide poisoning is common in developing countries. And salinization of irrigated land diminishes soil fertility. Thus, inappropriate use of inputs for agricultural production has far-reaching effects. There is significant geographic variation in the availability of land considered suitable for agriculture. Increasing population and demand from other sectors place growing pressure on available resources. According to FAO, the world's cultivated area has grown by 12 percent over the last 50 years. The global irrigated area has doubled over the same period, accounting for most of the net increase in cultivated land. Agriculture already uses 11 percent of the world's land surface for crop production. It also makes use of 70 percent of all water withdrawn from aquifers, streams and lakes. Agricultural policies have primarily benefitted farmers with productive land and access to water, bypassing the majority of small-scale producers who are still locked in a poverty trap of high vulnerability, land degradation and climatic uncertainty. Data on agricultural land are valuable for conducting studies on a various perspectives concerning agricultural production, food security and for deriving cropping intensity among others uses. Agricultural land indicator, along with land-use indicators, can also elucidate the environmental sustainability of countries' agricultural practices. Land resources are central to agriculture and rural development, and are intrinsically linked to global challenges of food insecurity and poverty, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as degradation and depletion of natural resources that affect the livelihoods of millions of rural people across the world. In many industrialized countries, agricultural land is subject to zoning regulations. In the context of zoning, agricultural land (or more properly agriculturally zoned land) refers to plots that may be used for agricultural activities, regardless of the physical type or quality of land.

Limitations and Exceptions: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) tries to impose standard definitions and reporting methods, but complete consistency across countries and over time is not possible. Thus, data on agricultural land in different climates may not be comparable. For example, permanent pastures are quite different in nature and intensity in African countries and dry Middle Eastern countries. True comparability of the data is limited, by variations in definitions, statistical methods, and quality of data. Countries use different definitions land use. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the primary compiler of the data, occasionally adjusts its definitions of land use categories and revises earlier data. Because the data reflect changes in reporting procedures as well as actual changes in land use, apparent trends should be interpreted cautiously. Satellite images show land use that differs from that of ground-based measures in area under cultivation and type of land use. Moreover, land use data in some countries (India is an example) are based on reporting systems designed for collecting tax revenue. With land taxes no longer a major source of government revenue, the quality and coverage of land use data have declined.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Temporary fallow land refers to land left fallow for less than five years. The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category. Data for "Arable land" are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable. The data collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations from official national sources through the questionnaire are supplemented with information from official secondary data sources. The secondary sources cover official country data from websites of national ministries, national publications and related country data reported by various international organizations.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual