The Republic of Guinea is West Africa’s most important water reserve, to the point of being nicknamed “Africa’s water tower”. The country is often called Guinea Conakry, from the name of its capital. An extraordinary number of major rivers are born within its territories, including the Senegal and Niger rivers… mighty arteries whose flow brings life and wealth to numerous nations. Facing out onto the Atlantic Ocean and curving inland in a half moon towards the south-east, the Republic of Guinea contains various different geographical environments, from the coastline to its plains, the mountains in the center, the savanna to the north and the dense forests in the south east. Each landscape has its own ethnic and cultural identity, and its own kind of agricultural potential.
Source of West Africa’s resources
A journey through the Republic of Guinea passes through various totally different kinds of territory. In the coastal areas to the west, the Atlantic insinuates itself into African soil via estuaries and gulfs, creating a brackish environment where dense mangrove swamps swarm with countless fish and bird species. Further inland are the plains, richly cultivated with tropical fruits which are essential to the country’s exports. In the center of Guinea, the earth thrusts upwards to form the Fouta Djalon Massif, with highland plateaus and rocky peaks that reach over 1500 meters. This contains the sources of two of the world’s great river systems, the Niger and the Senegal, which set off inland from here on journeys of thousands of kilometers and through territories and countries inhabited by countless tribes and peoples, swelling to majestic proportions until they eventually find the Ocean. From the mountains the traveler can descend to the north towards the savannas which fade away towards the Sahel Desert, or southwards into the immense forests that lead to the great green lung in the heart of Africa.
The goal of Food Security
On various occasions, FAO (the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) has drawn up reports indicating the Republic of Guinea’s immense agricultural and food potential deriving from its coast and its vast cultivable areas, both of which are still seriously underexploited. Its economy is predominantly agrarian, but its agricultural system is still based on subsistence farming, which struggles to provide enough food to feed the nation. Over the last few decades, therefore, the country has taken on a major strategic challenge: to develop its agricultural system in order to achieve full food self-sufficiency.
This commitment has various fronts, above all an expansion of rice production, the basic element of the country’s diet along with maize, cassava and yam, and also the development of fruit and vegetable horticulture. Another strategically important front, however, is the reinforcement of exports in order to finance structural investment, and this means also working to boost the plantations of tropical fruit, coffee, cocoa and palm products. Export income is vital for financing infrastructures and development programs including literacy and education policies, which have stimulated UNESCO to choose the city of Conakry as World Book Capital for 2017. Other key food sources are raising livestock and fishing: the northern part of the country offers rich prairies for grazing, while the Atlantic and the country’s abundant rivers hold large quantities of numerous prestigious fish species.