Central African Republic | EXPLOREit @ ICRISAT /sites/all/themes/icrisat
Central African Republic
Nations online project

The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries. Rural poverty and malnutrition are very high and have worsened in recent months due to ongoing conflict. With plenty of water and land resources, family farming could do much better with the right technologies and targeted investment, if social unrest stops.   

62.8% - Population living on less than $1.25 a day in the Central African Republic

23.5% - Children under five who are underweight in the Central African Republic

8% - Land classified as agricultural in the Central African Republic

40% - Share of agricultural land planted to cassava in the Central African Republic


General context

Even before the current humanitarian crisis, the poverty rate in the Central African Republic (CAR) was among the highest in the world (62.8% - World Bank ref) and a third of the population was food insecure (WFP 2012). The country, one of the least developed in the world, never benefited from social stability. Its considerable water, mineral and land resources are underexploited. Wood and diamonds are the main exports and agriculture, mostly subsistence farms, account for more than half the GDP. In 2014, the country's social and economic outlook was uncertain.  

The population of 5 million inhabitants lives mainly in the Southern and Western parts of the country. Cassava is the most important staple food crop, constituting 40% of the total crop area planted. Groundnuts and maize are also important crops, following secondary crops such as millet (cultivated in the drier North), sorghum, sesame, rice, and market gardening activities (WFP 2009). The country's forest cover is still significant.

The country suffers from a vicious circle between poor performing smallholder agriculture, low marketability and poor infrastructure, fuelled by social unrest.  

ICRISAT research in Central Africa

As a member of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), the country's agricultural institutions benefit from regional collaborative initiatives to boost smallholder agriculture's productivity. These include sustainable seed systems, agroforestry systems research and groundnut breeding for better drought and disease tolerance. 
Pearl millet is mostly cultivated in the North of the country. Its in-country genetic diversity has been studied to develop adapted high-yielding varieties. 
Groundnut is a key legume crop for family nutrition in the Central African Republic.