mauritaniaMauritania is located in the Saharan region of West Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the west. More than 90 percent of the country’s land surface is desert or semi-desert. Mauritania is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Its population is about 3.8 million, and the name of the capital is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast. The country faced serious droughts and the risk of mass starvation during the 1970s and 1980s. Poverty is widespread. The country is administratively divided into 12 regions (wilaya), which are further sub-divided into 44 departments (moughataa).

Context

Context

Mauritania has a typical desert climate, with high day time temperatures and hot winds, but cool nights. The coastal region is temperate. The northern region receives some rain, while in the south, substantial rains flood the Senegal River valley during the winter months, prompting agriculture and livestock rearing. Fishery is an important source of income in the coastal areas.

In spite of the introduction of modern agricultural methods in certain areas, most Mauritanian farmers are subsistent and practice primitive cultivation methods on usually small landholdings. Although average agricultural income is below poverty threshold yet agriculture and livestock (mainly cattle, sheep and goats), including pastoralism, are considered as important sectors for Mauritania’s food security and economy. Recurrent droughts, complicated land tenure system, expanding desert, and weak public policies in the past have cast shadows on the agricultural sector. In recent years, the government has been trying to boost up agricultural production through expansion of irrigated area, especially in the Senegal River valley, introduction of new crops, and recruitment of fresh graduates for developing lands for farming purposes. Main crops include millet, sorghum, rice, corn and some root crops. Dates are also produced. However,insufficient water supply remains a major constraint for farmers.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

397,110

38.52

450,000

0.43

0.12

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

N.A.

 

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

15.52

112.41

20.38

14.47

2011

2011

2011

2011

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

1110

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

58.01

65.25

71.28

91.53

83.96

2010

2010

2010

2010

2011

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

111.06

5.36

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

3,796,141

3.59

2,209,733

58.20

0.45

1,187,609

744,000

62.64

54.30

2012

2011

2012

2012

2012

2012

2010

2012

2012

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (September 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

Add comment


Security code
Refresh