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Mauritania Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture employs half the population, the majority of whom are active in livestock management. As an industry, livestock management is economically more important than arable farming, which is limited to the Senegal Valley in the south.
Slightly less than one percent of Mauritania's land area is cultivable. The most common crops are millet, sorghum, rice and dates. Agricultural production is not enough to feed the entire population, but must import more than half of its food. The country is very sensitive to drought and to fluctuations in food prices on world markets. According to estimates in 2015, 20 to 30 percent of Mauritanian people had largely insecure access to food.
Population growth contributes to deforestation as more and more people look for firewood. Another obstacle to rural development is that most farmers lease their land, which makes it difficult for them to plan their business in the long term. In addition, Mauritania is regularly affected by grasshopper swarms that destroy grain and vegetable harvests.
The waters off the coast of Mauritania are among the richest in the world. In the main, octopus and deep-sea fish are caught. The fishing fleet is concentrated to the port city of Nou‚dhibou.
A large part of the income from fishing consists of fees that, among other EU countries, pay for fishing in Mauritanian waters. A new four-year fisheries agreement was tentatively concluded with the EU in 2015 and was finally signed in May 2016. The agreement gives EU countries the right to fish, including shrimp, tuna and bottom-living fish. In exchange, Mauritania receives just under EUR 60 million a year.
The United Nations Environment Program UNEP has criticized these fishing licenses, as they contribute to depletion.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
24.4 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
38.5 percent (2016)
Special courts against slavery
The government decides to set up three special courts to deal with slavery issues. In a first sentence a few months later, two men were sentenced to five years in prison and fined for exploiting two women.
Price for work against slavery
The IRA-Mauritaine anti-slavery organization is awarded the Dutch State's Tulip Award for courageous defense of human rights.
Tighter law against slavery
Parliament adopts a law that marks slavery as a crime against humanity. The definition of slavery is widened and the sentence is doubled from a maximum of 10 years in prison to 20 years. Slavery has been outlawed since 1981 and punishable since 2007 but is still considered widespread. Now forced marriage should also be regarded as slavery, as well as the fact that a woman without her own consent is handed over to another man if her husband dies.
Prison for terrorist plans
A court in Nouakchott sentenced a leading al-Qaeda member to 20 years in prison. He is accused of having planned terrorist acts against US, European and Australian targets. He must have participated in attacks in Mauritania in 2005 and 2008.
Anti-slavery protest jail
Three activists in the fight against slavery are each sentenced to two years in prison. They are convicted of "membership in an illegal organization, participation in an unauthorized demonstration and violence against the police". According to Amnesty International, they were arrested when they informed people about civil rights. One of those convicted is Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who came second in the 2014 presidential election (see also November 2015). Police use tear gas to disperse a demonstration that erupts after the court ruling.