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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
Mauritania has been divided into five ecological zones according to climatic characteristics.
a).Arid zone: The zone covers all the land below the 150 mm isohyet, excluding the littoral band. It corresponds to the Saharan climate.(Territorial areas: Tiris Zemmour, Adrar, Tagant, Oualata, Magta Lahjar, Boumdeid, Boutilimitt)
b). East Sahel: The zone comprises the land between the 150 mm isohyet and the border of the two Hodhs and Mali. This zone contains half the sylvopastoral potential of the country. (Territorial areas: The two Hodhs less the Department of Oualata.)
c). West Sahel: The zone is between the 150 mm isohyet and the Senegal river. (Territorial areas: Assaba and parts of Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidimakha)
d). River: The riverine zone is where most of Mauritania’s agriculture is concentrated.( Territorial areas: Some Departments of Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidimakha
e). Sea coast: The sea front is a narrow band of 50 meters between Nouadhibou and N'diago.( Territorial areas: Littoral from Nouadhibou to Keur Macène)
Apart from these zones, within the zones, there are wetlands which are transit areas for migrating birds, some of which harbour a rich avifauna. The main wetlands are: The Senegal river; lake Rkiz; lake Mâl, Tamourt N’nâj, The Banc d’Arguin national park and the Diawling National Park.
In Mauritania crop production is greatly influenced by the geographic situation of the country and it is concentrated in the south, along the Senegal river. There are five cropping systems depending on regions and irrigation potential; these areas follows:
i).Rain fed cropping ii).Irrigated cropping iii). Recessional iv). Flood crops and v). Oases.
It is estimated that the land suitable for agricultural activities is 500,200 hectares that is about half a percent of the country’s area (Nations Unies, 2001).
The agricultural potential is unequally distributed; the four southern districts (Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidmakha) which cover 12 percent of the country, contain 59 percent of the arable and almost all the irrigable land.
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