Economics

Countries Exporting the Least Food Worldwide

Low food exports can indicate a lack of agricultural resources, poor foreign relations, and food insecurity.

Lack of Infrastructure and Political Unrest Minimize Food Export

One of the most important goals of every country aiming for economic growth is increasing its agricultural production. This is not only to secure their own food supply, but also to increase their annual national incomes. In wealthy nations such as those in Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, vast swaths of fertile land are tilled year after year, and important infrastructural components, like roads on which to ship farm goods and supplies, are highly developed and well-maintained. This is the opposite in such countries as Libya and the Central African Republic, which ranked among the lowest globally in food export value in 2014. We take a special look into some of the different environments which present their own unique challenges in food production and export.

​Political Turmoil in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is categorized as one of the world’s least developed countries, and is riddled by poverty and political unrest. Half of its national GDP is obtained from the agricultural sector, with major food products consisting of peanuts, millet, maize, plantains, cassava, sorghum, and sesame. Cotton, tobacco and coffee are the major cash crops being exported by the country, while timber is responsible for 16% of its export income. The diamond industry, on the other hand, accounts for most of the remainder, comprising a whopping 54% of total exports.

Still, economic activity in the Central African Republic exhibited a slight increase in 2014. This occurred despite the poor development of labor markets, as well as a lack of enforcement of labor policies. The encouraging progress can be attributed to the reinstatement of the major road corridor in and out of the capital and largest city of the CAR, Bangui. More importantly still, the road allows transport and commercial transactions between the city and Douala in Cameroon. Further development is expected in the next couple of years as the security situation and foreign relations continue to improve.

The Petroleum Sector Dominates Libya

Petroleum and crude oil account for 78% of Libya’s export products. This comes as no surprise, as it has the largest oil reserves in Africa, and ranks among the largest worldwide. No less than 70% of GDP and 90% of government revenue is attributed to hydrocarbons, with while their main export partners being China, France, Italy and Germany. Libya imports around 80% of its food, due primarily to poor soil conditions and even poorer climate. Wheat, cattle, soybeans, olives, dates, vegetables, barley and peanuts are among its main agricultural products.

Two Countries Combine to Depict a Global Picture

In each of these cases, there are strong internal factors leading to low exports of food products. In Libya, environmental conditions have made them push an emphasis on agriculture to the side as they pursue more lucrative economic prospects elsewhere. In the Central African Republic, lack of infrastructure and political instability leave few viable channels to export agricultural goods through, despite the sector dominating the job force there. From these two cases, we get a good picture of the most common reasons as to why the nations exporting the lowest values in food exports have earned that distinction.

Countries Exporting the Least Food Worldwide

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RankCountryFood Exports (USD)
1Central African Republic$142,274
2Libya$305,371
3Antigua and Barbuda$1,608,880
4Palau$2,874,627
5Kiribati$3,128,153
6Dominica$4,348,880
7Iraq$7,945,947
8Qatar$8,335,927
9Sao Tome and Principe$10,183,796
10Samoa$11,546,342
11Tonga$12,999,735
12The Gambia$19,694,667
13Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$35,976,526
14Haiti$37,810,000
15Bhutan$38,210,597
16Mongolia$40,899,380
17Brunei Darussalam$40,968,250
18Venezuela$41,848,421
19Gabon$47,837,902
20Solomon Islands$62,928,609
21Cabo Verde$69,343,405
22Suriname$69,898,065
23Bahamas$72,198,370
24Burundi$80,329,476
25Afghanistan$82,702,463

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