This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 6/26/2017
Niger is a land-locked nation with a particularly harsh climate and inhospitable geographical features - 11.43 percent of the land is arable.  Nevertheless, agriculture contributes approximately 40 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) and 87 percent of the labor force is employed in this sector.  Based principally on subsistence farming and livestock breeding, the country's economy is still largely at the mercy of the vagaries of the climate.  Increased rainfall variability due to climate change complicates the picture, and harvests vary widely from year to year.
Niger’s economy is dominated by rain-fed agriculture, while livestock production accounts for about a third of the value added in the agriculture sector.  The main purpose of agriculture policy in Niger is to achieve food self-sufficiency in spite of climatic hazards, and through the following efforts:
  • Encouraging dry-cropping in rural areas
  • Expediting hydro-agricultural projects to bring more irrigable land under cultivation 
  • Improving soils by the introduction of phosphates, nitrogen-based fertilizers and manure
  • Replacing traditional farming techniques with more modern methods
The following means are being employed to achieve these aims:
  1. Rural productivity projects to farm rain-fed crops on marginal lands.  These projects aim to increase the production of cereals (millet, sorghum), as well as cash crops such as black-eyed peas, peanuts and cotton, through use of improved farming techniques on a regional basis.  Each department has a different crop productivity focus:
    • Niamey -- cereals, onion, rice
    • Zinder – peanuts and millet
    • Dosso -- cereals, onions, black-eyed peas, peanuts, and cotton
    • Agadez – onions and garlic
    • Maradi – cereals, onions, and peanuts
  2. Hydro-agricultural projects in the Niger River valley, depressions, basins, etc.
  3. Agricultural extension services and use of fertilizers.
  4. Training and deploying agricultural technicians.  
The main food crops are: millet, sorghum, peanuts, black-eyed peas, rice, maize, potatoes, sugar cane, onions and manioc.  Millet and sorghum are by far the most consumed staples.

The agriculture sector is in urgent need of external funding.  The majority of crops are rain dependent, and the recent droughts have severely tested the country, making it a net importer of food on a large scale and very dependent on foreign aid.  The government welcomes funding for agribusiness generally and for the development of its agricultural markets in order to achieve growth. The private sector network for improved seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides is poorly developed.  Public extension services are weak and poorly funded, and extension services are provided in many regions by internationally funded NGOs.

Export of live cattle and meat represents nearly 12 percent of total exports (90 percent of which goes to Nigeria and the remaining to Cote d’Ivoire and other coastal countries).  Many live animals are exported to Burkina Faso before continuing on to Cote d’Ivoire or other coastal countries, and are marketed as Burkinabe after that, although Niger’s reputation for quality meat is well-known throughout the Sahel.

There is a significant potential in the formalization of the butchery industry and for the development of a formal private sector in meat production given the large number of small and informal butchers and the abundant availability of livestock.  According to 2013 census statistics, Niger had 10.7 million cattle, 10.7 million sheep, 14.3 million goats, 1.7 million camels, 241,000 horses and 1.7 million donkeys.  There is only one modern abattoir in Niger, and it is in Niamey.  Consumption of meat in rural areas is very low, as livestock are repeatedly bought and sold, but rarely eaten.  Consumption of chicken and meat is higher in urban areas, primarily in Niamey, and a growing middle class will typically consume more meat.

The Government of Niger, along with numerous NGOs, is installing a veterinary health system. The zoonotic diseases of ovine rinderpest, avian flu, and Newcastle have negative effects on livestock and poultry productivity. Vaccines are available, but distribution is difficult.

 The Violet de Galmi onion is highly rated and in demand in the sub-region, but suffers losses of more than 30% due to insufficient storage and transport.  It is estimated that there are more than 300,000 hectares on which gum Arabic could be potentially be exploited.  S.H. Biaugeaud, a subsidiary of Nestle Corporation, is building a plant in Tahoua, which will export onion powder as well as a smaller quantity of whole onions.
Table 6: Niger Agricultural Production
Agricultural ProductsProduction (Thousand Metric Tons)
 Year201420152016 (est.)

Source: Institut National de la Statistique (INS)

Leading Sub-Sectors
Further opportunities exist in the agribusiness sector and in the provision of agricultural inputs including fertilizers, hybrids seeds, and equipment.

In 2014, rice represented the principal imported product to Niger at $133 million.  The preference is for 100 percent broken rice originating from Asia, mainly Thailand and India.  However, as average income grows, rice imports are gradually moving upscale with more consumers preferring fragrant rice.  With a highly competitive domestic rice market, Nigeriens largely have been unwilling to pay the higher price of U.S. medium-quality rice.  However, in 2010, U.S. rice exports (Jan-Nov) reached almost $13 million from $5.4 million over the same period in 2009, according to U.S. trade data.  U.S. exports to Niger have centered on rice, vegetable oil (excluding soy), and pulses.

Because of a production shortage, Nigerien importers and the government of Niger are now turning to imported grain sorghum.

Table 7:
Niger Agricultural Imports
ProductNiger Top Import Products (Metric Tons)
Year201420152016 (est.)
Palm oil50,317N/AN/A
Dairy products16,215N/AN/A
Source: Institut National de la Statistique (INS), Niger

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Institut National de la Statistique (INS)

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Niger Agricultural Commodities Trade Development and Promotion