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Cape Verde Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Less than a tenth of Cape Verde's land area is cultivable, and half of the agricultural land is on the island of São Tiago. On average, cutting values manage to produce 10-15 percent of the food needed, the rest being imported. The harvests are constantly threatened by drought.
In 2002, agricultural production fell by almost 90 percent as a result of the worst drought in 50 years, and food shortages prevailed in several of the islands. After a brief recovery in 2003, Cape Verde was already hit again the following year by severe drought, this time in combination with grasshopper attacks. In 2007, the northern islands were exposed to drought and mist growth. The two following years were average returns, while 2010 was a relatively good year for agriculture. Also in the years that followed, returns continued to fluctuate, in 2012 it increased by more than 6 percent and a year later shrank by almost 3 percent.
The barren islands are severely subject to land destruction. Millions of trees have been planted to bind the earth and prevent it from blowing away or flowing into the sea with the rain. Thousands of rainwater pools and ponds have been built to facilitate irrigation.
Agriculture (including fisheries) contributed less than a tenth of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, while the sector employed around one-seventh of the labor force. Over half of the farms are less than one hectare and only three percent are larger than five hectares. Attempts to redistribute the soil have so far been unsuccessful. Contrary to how it is in most African countries, however, ownership conditions are fairly clear; a large part of the land is owned by individuals and there is rarely any doubt as to who owns what.
The most important food crops are corn, beans, cassava and sweet potatoes. Some exports of bananas and mangoes occur, and attempts to find new export crops, such as coffee and pineapple, are encouraged by the government. Wine is produced for the local market and is mainly sold at tourist resorts. In just over half of the irrigated land, sugar cane is grown, which is mainly used to make a kind of native rum, grogue. The Government encourages the production of another type of alcohol that is made on imported molasses so that a larger part of the irrigated surface can be used for growing crops.
Livestock farming often complements arable farming, but it is also hampered by drought. Common domestic animals are cows, goats, sheep and pigs.
Cape Verde is located in the Atlantic, perhaps the most fish-rich area with large assets, mainly tuna and lobster. The country's fishing zone covers over 730,000 square kilometers and estimates show that about 35,000 tonnes of fish can be caught without the country risking overfishing. Coastal fishing with traditional methods predominates. In 2013, more than 20,000 tonnes of fish and seafood were caught, compared with the peak listing of over 24,500 tonnes in 2006.
Export revenues from fishing accounted for 85 percent of Cape Verde's total export revenues in 2013 (excluding re-exports). The sale of fishing licenses abroad generates some income. Under a 2014–2018 agreement, the EU pays a total of € 2.1 million to Cape Verde to catch 5,000 tonnes of fish annually in Cape Verde waters. The country also has similar fisheries agreements with, for example, the US, Norway and Brazil.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
4.7 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
19.6 percent (2016)
NATO holds military exercise in Cape Verde
About 7,800 soldiers participate in the Defense Alliance exercise on the Cape Verde island of São Vicente. It is the first major NATO exercise in Africa.
President Pires is re-elected
In the presidential election, veterans Pires and Veiga are again confronted. 71-year-old President Pires is re-elected with 51 percent of the vote against 49 percent for Veiga. According to the Election Commission, Veiga receives a majority of the votes among voters residing in Cape Verde, while Pires secures victory through votes from Cape Verde residents residing abroad.
PAICV retains government power
In the parliamentary elections, the ruling PAICV goes back to victory. The former Independence Party gets 52 percent of the vote, giving 41 of the 72 seats, while the MDC gets 42 percent, or 29 seats. Two mandates go to the small Christian Democratic party Ucid.