Back to Library

The future of agriculture in Cape Verde: 2030 – 2063

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Agricultural Value Chains / Agri-Businesses
Nutrition / Food Systems
Climate / Weather / Environment
Type of Risk:
Biological & environmental
Weather & Climate related
Policy & institutional
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk reduction/mitigation
Helene Ba, Gianluca Capaldo, and Assefa Woldeyes; Under the direction of Benoit Thierry, Directeur Hub FIDA Afrique de l’Ouest; Reviewed by Joelle Onimus-Pfortner
International Fund for Agricultural Development


The current resident population in Cape Verde is estimated at 556,000 inhabitants, mostly rural (64%) and young (33% are between 15 and 34 years old). The island of Santiago with the capital Praia accounts for more than half of the country’s population. The island of Santiago with the capital Praia has more than half of the country’s population.
Like other archipelagic states, Cape Verde is made up of local particularisms linked to geographical conditions and differentiated economic use of the islands that compose it. The State has progressively united the different islands to build a country that could grow economically and be socially knitted. Cape Verde has become one of Africa’s best economic performers. The GDP / capita in the past 45 years increased from USD 300 to USD 3,738, making Cape Verde a middle-income country. The economy is dominated by the tertiary sector (65% of GDP), led by tourism. Long-standing and ongoing diaspora remittances represent a major source of foreign exchange.

Poverty declined significantly, from 37% in 2001 to 27% in 2007, and rose again to 36% of the current population, according to the national threshold. This reduction was observed mainly in rural areas. The population’s access to food, the stability of supplies, and the nutritional balance of food rations remain priority issues, particularly for the most disadvantaged social categories and the youngest.

Available natural resources are not conducive to large-scale agricultural production. In addition to limited arable land and infertile soils, the country suffers from very low levels of rainfall, and surface and groundwater resources are limited. There are 4 agroecological zones, classified according to average rainfall and altitude, determining the predominantly family-based agricultural production systems governed by a complex land tenure system. Agriculture has gradually intensified and diversified with cereals, legumes, vegetable crops, roots and tubers and fruit trees integrated into the production systems. Livestock farming, which is essentially family-based, is also integrated into crop production and represents an important component of the income and livelihood of the majority of households. The extensive marine area, with a diversity of fisheries resources that are still underexploited, provides an important source of fishery products for the local market and export.

Climate change affects island in a specific way, and Cape Verde is not an exception. The future of the state Verde is constrained by climate change and looks rather «gloomy» according to the climate models developed by the IPCC: these show a rise in temperatures that could reach 4 ° C. by 2100 and a drop in the already rare rainfalls which could amount to 20% and would affect a growing number of areas of economic importance. In addition, rising water levels and erosion already affect the islands. However, Cape Verde has been committed, since its independence, first in the fight against desertification and the effects of drought, then with adaptation to climate change as part of a National Action Plan for the Environment drawn up in 1995. Among the constraints, challenges and issues, are: i) an agricultural sector subject to the aridity of the climate, the limitation of arable land and water resources, as well as traditional production systems insufficiently adapted to agroecological conditions, which worsen the fragility of the ecosystem and the erosive process; ii) growth of the overall, urban and rural population, especially of young people, which constitutes a critical element of Cape Verde’s development policy ; iii) structural food and nutritional insecurity in terms of quantity and quality of food that affects the poorest populations and the youngest group, as well as some islands ; iv) an imbalance between the islands and especially between urban centers and rural areas due to the intensifying movements of people, goods and services between the islands and towards major urban centers. The central issue is to make circulation more fluid without causing massive influxes of population to urban centers ; v) and a tourism sector severely hit by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for which an alternative must be sought in the (very short) term.

The projections of consumption needs show a diversification of food products, with cereals as the main staple food. Maize is traditionally most consumed, together with beans. Maize will progressively be replaced by imported cereals (rice, wheat) and more productive and popular roots and tubers, especially in urban areas. The same situation can be observed with fruit and vegetables. There will be greater needs for meat and offal, milk and dairy products that are linked to urbanization. The almost tripling of the needs for fish and seafood testifies to the specificity of the island.
The evolution of consumption needs is reflected in: i) the significant increase in the areas of tubers, fruits and legumes; ii) the doubling of oil and fat requirements by 2100 as well as those of meat and offal; iii) the tripling of fish consumption by 2100. The investment needs will reach USD 19.5 billion in 2030, USD 21.2 billion in 2050 and USD 26.6 billion in 2100. Ways and means are being implemented to make the best use of the existing limited potential, including: i) increasing the availability of water by building water collection and retention infrastructures; ii) increasing the productivity of permanent irrigated agriculture; iii) the introduction of efficient irrigation techniques, such as micro-irrigation; iv) and the diversification of agricultural income in rural areas. Substantial gains have already been obtained, such as: i) the production of products of high nutritional and economic value (vegetables, fruits); ii) more intensive farming (poultry farming, pig farming, other small farms, beekeeping); iv) professionalization of rudimentary and industrial fishing; v) increased processing of seafood; vi) and increasing their export.

Creating added value through intensification and diversification of the agricultural and agrifood sectors, and participating in the value chains created, offers opportunities to agricultural and non-agricultural activities that generate jobs and income both in rural and urban areas. In turn, these opportunities provide a catalyst for private investment in the primary sector, particularly in: i)infrastructure construction; ii) production of inputs and equipment; iii) agrifood industry; iv) upstream and downstream marketing of productions; v) transport, telecommunications, technical and social support services; vi) and rural tourism. The high credibility that Cape Verde enjoys with development partners and foreign direct investors, through its effective use of development aid and conducive business environment, is a significant additional asset.