What Are Main Cash Crops in Africa?

Cash crops grown in Africa include coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, cocoa and fruit. African nations vary in type and quantity of crops produced, influenced by factors ranging from climate and topography to demand and economic incentives. Unlike staple crops, which meet basic needs for African citizens, farmers export cash crops solely for economic purposes.

Although cash crops emerge from various parts of Africa, most derive from the sub-Saharan region. There, farmers produce many crops and do so in large quantities. Different countries within Africa specialize in various crops. Some produce one or two main cash crops while others, such as Cote d'Ivoire, produce many. Cotton, one staple cash crop, comes from Zambia, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Benin. Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Cote d'Ivoire produce coffee while tobacco comes from Malawi and Zambia. Lastly, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana export cocoa.

Crop exports from Africa change depending on global demand, land availability and other factors. Some cash crops emerged relatively recently in African history. Others, however, date back many years. Coffee production, for instance, originated in Africa, first appearing in French Guyana during the 18th century. Several African nations, including Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda, rank among the leading global coffee producers. Ethiopia exports most of Africa's coffee. Its farms yield slightly less than 4 million pounds each year and employ 12 million citizens. This nation specializes in arabica beans while Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda export robusta beans.