AFRICA ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK
Past, present and future perspectives

EXTENT AND PRODUCTIVITY OF CULTIVATION AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

Over the years, the sub-region has seen some expansion in both cropland and permanent pastures, as a response to rising population and demand for food, as well as to policies aimed at increasing exports. The total cultivated area has grown from 32 million ha in 1970 to 39 million ha in 1999, whereas the extent of permanent pastures has remained almost constant, at 332 million ha (FAOSTAT 2001). In some instances, these areas are inappropriate for cultivation or grazing, as a result of low or variable rainfall, or unsuitable topography and soil quality.

Absolute production of crops and livestock has increased since 1970, but has lagged behind population growth and, therefore, the per capita production indices show a decline (see Figure 2f.12 and Figure 2f.13). Countries have been dependent on imports of grain over the past three decades and, on occasion, have required food aid, particularly during times of flooding or drought. In addition, per capita calorie intake in many countries is now lower than it was in 1970, and protein intake has declined quite considerably in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe (FAOSTAT 2001).

Current levels of nutrition in the sub-region are, on average, 2 231 calories/capita/day. However, they vary from 1 782 calories/capita/day in Mozambique (which is recovering from civil war) to 2 956 calories/capita/day in South Africa, one of the wealthiest countries in the sub-region (Trueblood, Shapouri and Henneberry 2001). Climate variability contributes significantly to fluctuations in production, and food supplies tend to be in surplus or in deficit. Mozambique and Angola have also been most heavily dependent on imports and food aid, especially since 1980. For example, between 1963 and 1965, Angola imported 9.5 kg/capita of grain but, between 1993 and 1995, the figure had increased to nearly 50 kg/capita (Trueblood and others 2001). In Lesotho, imports grew even more dramatically, from 19 kg/capita to 98 kg/capita, whereas, in Botswana, food imports remained constant, and exports grew from nothing to 3 kg/capita (Trueblood and others 2001).

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Figure 2f.12: Crop production indices for Southern Africa, 1970-2000

Source: compiled from FAOSTAT 2001

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Figure 2f.13: Livestock production indices for Southern Africa, 1970-2000

Source: compiled from FAOSTAT 2001