With a population of 4.6 million in 2015, the Congo derives 60 per cent of its GDP, 90 per cent of exports and 80 per cent of state revenue from oil. Mining, forest products and construction also contributed to economic growth of 2.6% in 2015, according to the World Bank. The country is urbanizing rapidly and its two largest cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, house more than half the population. Though largely covered by tropical forests, almost a third of Congo is arable land.
The national poverty rate was reduced from 50.7 per cent in 2008 to 46.5 per cent in 2011, but in rural areas, where a third of the population lives, poverty reached 70 per cent.
Farming provided 35 per cent of employment but just 3.4 per cent of GDP in 2011, according to the World Bank. Another 15 per cent of rural people engage in fisheries and aquaculture.
People without jobs or land and young people and women, who are the primary agricultural producers and processors, are the most vulnerable to poverty.
Among the biggest challenges for poor rural people are:
- extreme scarcity of microfinance;
- low agricultural productivity arising from traditional cultivation methods, and lack of improved seeds, planting materials and fertilizers;
- high transport costs because vehicles, roads, crossings and navigation channels are poorly maintained ; and
- marketing difficulties arising from weak collection and distribution organizations, poor processing equipment and poor communications between producers, traders and consumers.
In the Republic of Congo, IFAD loans support efforts to improve income and food security for poor rural people.
The programme's three strategic objectives are to:
- increase small farmers' access to appropriate and effective technologies in agriculture and fishing to improve their production, processing and storage;
- increase small farmers' access to transparent markets for agricultural and fishery inputs and for sale of products via targeted value chains;
- increase the participation of rural and producers' organizations in local and national planning and policy making.
Poverty was reduced from 50.7 per cent of the population in 2008 to 46.5 per cent in 2011, but the poverty rate reached 70 per cent in rural areas.
A third of Congo's population is estimated to live in rural areas and 70 per cent of rural households depend on agriculture.
Agriculture provides 35 per cent of employment and contributes 3.4 per cent of GDP (World Bank, 2011).
Since 1983, IFAD has supported 8 programmes and projects in the Republic of Congo for a total of US$63.7 million, directly benefiting more than 118,000 rural households.