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Agriculture

The challenges and the needs for reconstruction of the Congo are very large. Two of the main sectors are agriculture and transport. Agriculture, along with forestry and fishing is the main livelihood for some 75% of the population.

Despite a huge potential with great access to fertile land has the agricultural production not increased. Its share of export revenues declined from approx. 40% in 1960 to less than 10% in 2000.

The low agricultural production does not only result in the absence of locally produced food in the cities, but also more poverty in rural areas. Since many can not produce and/or sell their surplus, it is very hard to afford to pay for schooling, medicines, clothing and other basic needs.

The low agricultural production has several causes. The war, which has led to that people in some areas have been forced to flee and leave their fields is one of them, especially in the war-torn eastern part of the country. Obsolete technologies and tools is yet another reason for the low production.

In most areas in the Congo are the farmers still run an old type of slash-and-burn cultivation which means that new fields has to be cleared approximately every 3 years. Clearing, planting and harvesting are still performed by hand, only using simple tools.

It is mainly women who are responsible for the agriculture. They are often burdened by other hard work as collecting firewood and water, cooking, childcare, etc. This, together with the obsolete tools, means there is a lot of hard work involved in producing agricultural products for selling.

The absence of transport opportunity for the sale of surplus production is a further reason for the low production. Congo has one of Africa's least developed road networks. Because of that so few roads are passable is transportation mainly preformed using the developed river system.

A major problem with the existing river transports is that it is very unsafe. The boats, often wooden boats, have poor durability and are often overloaded. Accidents, meaning not only the loss of the cargo, but of life, are very common. The great risk and the increasing number of accidents in recent times further reduce incentives for farmers to increase agricultural production for sale in the cities.