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By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

The continental Great Green Wall initiative has 393 million hectares of land with restoration potential and opportunities, and that 350 million hectares of cropland are cultivated in Africa, more than double that of the European Union.

A data collection and analysis initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC) has revealed 7 billion trees outside forests for the first time, among other findings.

The detailed snapshot of the continent captured through more than 300 000 sampling points between 2018 and 2020.

The survey is the first consistent land use representation of the continent and discloses more forests and more arable lands than were previously detected.

The Africa DEAL ((Data for Environment, Agriculture, and Land)) shows that science and innovation can provide real solutions and that collaboration and pooling experience leads to the best results.

It supports the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and better lives for all,” said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General.

The findings reveal enormous opportunities for the management of the environment, agriculture, and land use in Africa and increase countries’ ability to track changes and conduct analyses for informed sustainable production, restoration interventions, and climate action.

The innovation enables countries to detect where deforestation is happening, where settlement land is encroaching on cropland or grassland, and where the wetland is being lost.

The Africa Open DEAL highlights 350 million hectares of cropland cultivated in Africa, double the amount of the European Union.

“So why should we still be talking about continued hunger in Africa? We now have new, accurate information to use in our fight against hunger on the continent,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa.

The collaboration assured that Africa can still turn the tide and restore degraded land for agricultural use through models such as agroforestry that can halt desertification.

“We can still fight climate change, and above all that, we can still restore hope for humanity despite the odds,” said Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment.

The fact-based information builds on the data foundations of the Great Green Wall, which have created unique knowledge and biophysical baseline data through the Action Against Desertification programme.

Thanks to partnerships with and funding support from the European Union, Germany, and Turkey, the Africa Open DEAL initiative.  Email:




Julia Heita

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