Comprendre les enjeux de l'agriculture

In the 2023-2024 season, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) estimates that the world will produce 663 million tonnes of oilseeds. However, despite having a population of 1.3 billion people, Africa only produces approximately 26 million tonnes and imports 10 million tonnes of oilseeds.

During the 2023-2024 season, Brazil is expected to produce 163 million tonnes of soybeans, accounting for one-third of global production, while Ukraine, despite being in conflict, is set to produce one-fourth of the world’s sunflower seeds (around 15 million tonnes out of 56 million tonnes).

As a result, the global production of oilseeds (663 million tonnes), which has increased by 24 million tonnes, is more than sufficient to meet the rising demands of importing countries, with China leading the way.

China is projected to import 100 million tonnes of soybeans according to the USDA, an increase of 11 million tonnes in two years. Brazil alone could supply China, exporting 96 million tonnes of soybeans and 22 million tonnes of soybean meal during the 2023-2024 season. At the same time, war-torn Ukraine is expected to ship 4.2 million tonnes of soybean meal and 4.9 million tonnes of sunflower oil, record quantities as reported by the American statistical agency.

The surge in prices in 2022 and the end of drought in Brazil boosted global soybean production to 402 million tonnes, an increase of 39 million tonnes, and sunflower production to 55 million tonnes, an increase of 3 million tonnes. Canola production remained at a very high level at 86 million tonnes, with only a 2 million tonne decrease after a nearly 13 million tonne increase in 2022-2023.

The surplus of millions of tonnes of seeds has eased the oilseed markets, returning prices to levels seen before the conflict in Ukraine. In France, rapeseed prices are even lower than in 2021.

During the season, 541 million tonnes of oilseeds will be processed worldwide, with the equivalent of 196 million tonnes being exported according to the USDA.

Global meal production alone will increase by 20 million tonnes in two years to reach 369 million tonnes, while oil production will reach 223 million tonnes, an increase of 15 million tonnes in two years.

Some of the traded seeds worldwide will be re-exported as meal and oil. As a result, 100 million tonnes of meal will be exported, with 70 million tonnes being soybean meal. The majority of the traded oil (89 million tonnes) will be palm oil.

A Significant Absence: The African Continent

Overall, the African continent, home to 1.3 billion people, has little impact on the oilseed markets, despite accounting for 28% of global wheat imports (around 55 million tonnes).

Africa produces only around 26 million tonnes of oilseeds but imports approximately 10 million tonnes in various forms.

African peanut production is estimated at 16 million tonnes according to the FAO (2020 figures), representing one-third of the world’s peanut harvest. The plant is absent in Southern Africa and is primarily cultivated in West Africa. Approximately 1.4 million tonnes of peanut oil is pressed in Africa for local consumption. Global production does not exceed 6.43 million tonnes, and international trade is minimal.

Nigeria is the leading African producer of palm oil (1.5 million tonnes), but its production is very low on a global scale (79.5 million tonnes). Nigeria’s production for the domestic market is supplemented by imports (300-400,000 tonnes).

Among the top ten palm oil importers in the world, the USDA mentions two African countries: Egypt (1.2 million tonnes) and Kenya (1 million tonnes), both far behind China (9 million tonnes), India (6.7 million tonnes), and even the European Union (4.8 million tonnes).

The palm oil imports of other African importing countries involve small volumes. These countries account for 16 million tonnes of the 45 million tonnes exported worldwide by Indonesia and Malaysia, which together dominate the global market.

Limited Growth in African Soybean Production

Africa does produce soybeans, but its harvest (4.9 million tonnes – FAO source) accounts for only 1.2% of the world’s soybean crop (403 million tonnes). Most of the plantations are located in Southern, Eastern, and Western Africa, with minimal production in North Africa. To feed its poultry industry, North Africa is expected to import 5.2 million tonnes of soybeans, according to the USDA.

The American ministry identifies Egypt as one of the world’s major soybean importers (2.8 million tonnes in 2023-2024). However, three years earlier, the country had purchased up to 4.8 million tonnes. In reality, Egypt processes the imported soybeans into meal and oil. Its purchases are limited to 850,000 tonnes of soybean meal and 230,000 tonnes of soybean oil. Nevertheless, the country has tripled its meal purchases in three years.

Apart from Egypt, other North African countries pursue a different strategy. They are projected to buy only 2.4 million tonnes of soybeans, a volume that has remained nearly unchanged for three years. However, they import oil and meal that they are unable to produce themselves from beans purchased from other countries.

However, their purchases are very low (1.3 million tonnes of meal and 1.2 million tonnes of oil) compared to the quantities traded worldwide (67 million tonnes of meal and 10 million tonnes of oil).

South African soybean and derived product imports are marginal.

The African continent does not produce sunflower and canola, plants cultivated in temperate countries.

Maghreb countries are, of course, olive oil producers, like all Mediterranean countries. Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco are estimated to produce between 800,000 and 900,000 tonnes, according to the FAO. However, two-thirds of global production is European (2.1 million tonnes out of 3.2 million tonnes).

Lastly, Africa produces 310,000 tonnes of cottonseed oil (7% of the estimated global production of 5 million tonnes). The majority is extracted in West Africa (40%). Once again, the harvest is reserved for local consumption.


Soy, Canola, Sunflower, Peanut, Olive Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Palm Oil