Here are the Top 5 most produced cash crops in Africa

Cash crops, such as coffee or rice, are crops that are planted for the purpose of selling on the market or for export to make a profit.

A man selects and prepares hemp seeds for planting during the sowing of the first industrial hemp crop in Zimbabwe at the Harare Central Prison in the capital, on October 11, 2019. (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), Agriculture makes up nearly 20% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy—a higher percentage than any other region worldwide. Furthermore, the continent is home to 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Given the massive role of agriculture across the region, data from Visual Capitalist shows the Top 5 most produced cash crops in Africa and their share of total global production.


Tonnes produced in 2019 = 192.1M

Cassava is the most produced cash crop by a wide margin. With nearly 200 million tonnes of it produced annually, Africa’s cassava production makes up a majority (63%) of the global total. While cassavas are not well known in the Western world, they feed 800 million people globally. Cassavas are an essential root vegetable that has similar uses to potatoes.

Sugar cane

Tonnes produced in 2019 = 97.3M

Although Africa represents only 5% of current global production, it is considered a critical region for continued expansion due to its high production potential, low cost and proximity to European markets. Notably, the EU is the world’s second-largest consumer of sugar (Czarnikow, 2014) and was the largest importer of sugar between 2008 and 2011


Tonnes produced in 2019 = 81.9M

Maise is Africa's most important cereal crop and an important staple food for more than 1.2 billion people in SSA and Latin America. All parts of the crop can be used for food and non-food products. For these reasons, several African countries that depend on maise as a staple food crop have adopted agricultural policies to maintain a steady supply of the commodity through increased production and productivity of the crop.


Tonnes produced in 2019 = 72.4M

According to the report, Africa’s yam production is 97% of the global total. West Africa is known as the “yam belt,” covering Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire. With over 60 million people across the yam belt directly or indirectly involved in its production, yam cultivation is an important component of the region’s economic vitality.

Rice, paddy

Tonnes produced in 2019 = 38.8M

In West and East Africa, rice is one of the most important basic foodstuffs. However, not nearly enough of it is cultivated to account for rapid population growth as rice farmers in Africa continue to farm below their actual yield potential. Nonetheless, small farmers in countries like Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania are being supported in boosting their rice harvests, improving product quality and raising their incomes.


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