European Neighbourhood Policy - South - agriculture statistics

Data extracted in December 2018.

Planned article update: January 2020.


In 2017, agriculture, forestry and fishing generally accounted for a much higher share of the workforce in the European Neighbourhood Policy-South countries than in the EU.

The number of sheep in the European Neighbourhood Policy-South countries was about three quarters of the total across the EU in 2017, whereas there were at least one third more goats than in the EU.

Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in total employment, 2007 and 2017
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_egana) and (lfsa_egan2)

This article is part of an online publication and provides data on agricultural statistics for eight of the countries that form the European Neighbourhood Policy- South (ENP-South) region — Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine [1] and Tunisia; no recent data are available for Libya or Syria. The article provides an overview of the key characteristics of agriculture in these countries and in the European Union (EU), providing statistics on the economic contribution of agriculture, forestry and fishing as well as agricultural output, including crop and livestock production.

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Gross value added and employment

Between 2007 and 2017, the shares of the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector in total gross value added declined in half of the ENP-South countries: increases were recorded in Algeria, Jordan (between 2007 and 2016), Morocco and Tunisia (between 2007 and 2015). Despite the reductions in Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector continued to account for a relatively high proportion of total economic activity in the vast majority of the ENP-South countries. While the output of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the EU-28 accounted for 1.7 % of total gross value added in 2017, its share ranged from 2.9 % in Palestine to 14.0 % in Morocco, with Israel (1.3 %) below this range and also below the share in the EU-28 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Share of total gross value added from agriculture, forestry and fishing, 2007 and 2017
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a10)

Figure 2 shows a similar analysis of employment for 2007 and 2017. Within the EU-28, the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in total employment (for those aged 15 and over) fell from 5.1 % in 2007 to 3.9 % by 2017.

Figure 2: Share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in total employment, 2007 and 2017
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_egana) and (lfsa_egan2)

The employment share of agriculture, forestry and fishing in the ENP-South countries for which data are available was generally much higher than in the EU-28, although the share in Israel was lower (1.0 % in 2017). At the other end of the range, close to two fifths (38.0 %; 2016 data) of the workforce in Morocco and a quarter (25.0 %) of the workforce in Egypt were employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing.

The share of the workforce in agriculture, forestry and fishing fell between 2007 and 2017 in the EU-28 and the four ENP-South countries for which data are available. The contraction in Palestine was particularly large, with the share more than halving from 16.1 % to 6.7 %. More data on the labour markets in the ENP-South countries are available in the Statistics Explained article European Neighbourhood Policy - South - labour market statistics.

Land use

The area within each country that is used for farming varies according to climate, terrain and soil type, while the level of economic development and population density may also play a role in determining land use. Within the EU-28 roughly equal proportions of land (around 40 % of the total land area in 2016) are used for farming on one hand and for forest and woodland on the other; the remainder of the land is built-up areas (villages, towns and cities), infrastructure (such as roads or railways), scrub or waste land. The proportion of land that is given over to agriculture was more than half of the total area in Tunisia (although no recent data are available), while in the four other ENP-South countries for which data are available the share was considerably less than in the EU-28, reflecting the mountainous terrains and desert landscapes of some ENP-South countries: 13.4 % in Israel, also more than one tenth in Morocco (no recent data available), 3.6 % in Algeria and 3.2 % in Jordan — see Figure 3.

Figure 3: Utilised agricultural area as a share of the total area, 2007 and 2017
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpsh1) and (reg_area3)

Crop and animal production

The ENP-South countries are often characterised as being arid areas of unfertile soil, covered with rock and sand. Nevertheless, there are pockets of more fertile land within each of the ENP-South countries, particularly along river valleys or close to the coast. While the winter months often see relatively high levels of rainfall, some regions receive little or no rainfall during the summer. The variability in rainfall patterns can play a considerable role in determining the success or failure of each harvest (as reflected in the figures for harvested production).

In 2017, the largest producers of cereals among the ENP-South countries were Egypt (2016 data) and Morocco, with 23.3 million tonnes and 9.8 million tonnes of output respectively. Their main cereal crops were wheat (both countries; note the data for Egypt exclude information for common wheat), barley (Morocco) and grain maize (Egypt) — see Table 1.

Table 1: Cereal production (including rice), 2017
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpsh1)

While farming of livestock in the ENP-South countries is shaped by climatic and topographic conditions, cultural and religious traditions also affect the types of animals that are reared. Many subsistence farmers in the ENP-South countries keep a small number of animals on their farm which may be used for eggs, milk, wool/hides, as well as for their meat.

The population of sheep and goats in most of the ENP-South countries was relatively high. This may, at least in part, be linked to the ability of these animals to survive in arid conditions (whereas the ideal conditions for rearing cattle include a plentiful supply of pasture). Pig farming is almost non-existent in ENP-South countries, reflecting the religious practices of their majority Muslim or Jewish populations.

Table 2 provides an analysis of farm animals for the EU-28 and the ENP-South countries in December 2017. Apart from the obvious difference concerning pig farming, there was also a considerable difference in the number of cattle raised in the EU-28 and the ENP-South countries; the total number of cattle across the ENP-South countries for which data are available (December 2016 data for Egypt and April 2017 data for Tunisia, no data for Lebanon or Palestine) equated to just 13 % of the total in the EU-28. Data availability for the ENP-South countries is similar for sheep and goats: based on the information shown in Table 2 there were over 64 million sheep in the ENP-South countries and over 17 million goats. As such, the number of sheep was equivalent to about three quarters (74 %) of the total across the EU-28 whereas there were at least one third more goats in the ENP-South countries than in the EU-28.

Table 2: Livestock population, December 2017
(thousand heads)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mt_lscatl), (apro_mt_lspig) and (apro_mt_lssheep)

The structure of animal output — as measured by the quantity of slaughtered production — differs from the structure of the animal populations in each country, in large part due to the fact that a proportion of cattle, sheep and goats are reared for milk (or wool in some cases) rather than for meat. In all of the ENP-South countries for which data are available (see Table 3), poultry accounted for the highest quantity of slaughtered production in 2017. Production from sheep and goats outweighed production from cattle in Jordan and Palestine (no recent data for either) as well as Tunisia (2015 data).

Table 3: Slaughtered production, 2007, 2012 and 2017
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mt_pann)

Trade in food and live animals

The value of international trade in food and live animals has grown at a rapid pace over the last decade in nearly all of the ENP-South countries; note this may, in part, be due to increased prices as the values shown in Tables 4 and 5 are presented in current prices. Fluctuating prices for raw and processed foodstuffs may have a considerable impact on the trade position of a country, while climatic conditions can affect yields and determine if there is a surplus of food for export or if there is a deficit which may lead to higher levels of imports.

The EU-28 consistently ran a trade deficit in food and live animal products over the period 2007-2017; note that the trade data presented for the EU-28 in Tables 4 and 5 concern extra-EU trade. All of the ENP-South countries for which data are available also recorded trade deficits during this 10-year period with the exception of Morocco which recorded surpluses for food and live animals in 2009, 2015 and 2016.

Table 4: Imports of food and live animals, 2007-2017
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu28sitc)

Table 5: Exports of food and live animals, 2007-2017
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (ext_st_eu28sitc)

Whereas the trade deficit in these products was lower in 2017 than it had been in 2007 in the EU-28, the reverse was true for Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia (comparing 2007 and 2016).

Collectively, the exports of food and live animals from ENP-South countries (2016 data for Morocco and Tunisia; excluding Lebanon) were valued at EUR 11.4 billion in 2017, equivalent to about around 13.1 % of the EU-28 total, while the value of imports of these goods into the ENP-South countries was EUR 30.3 billion, equivalent to 29.2 % of the EU-28 total.

The highest values of exports of food and live animals from the ENP-South countries in 2017 were recorded for Morocco (EUR 4.0 billion; 2016 data) and Egypt (EUR 3.7 billion), which were more than double the level of exports from Israel which recorded the third highest value. Palestine had the lowest level of exports of food and live animals among the ENP-South countries, some EUR 163 million in 2017.

Exports of food and live animals from Algeria were 5.3 times as high in 2017 as their level in 2007, whereas exports from Egypt were 4.0 times as high and from Palestine they were 3.3 times as high. Exports of food and live animals from Jordan more than doubled over this period, as did exports from the EU-28, and there was also growth recorded for Morocco (up 87 %; 2007-2016), Tunisia (up 49 %; 2007-2016) and Israel (up 42 %).

Data sources

The data for ENP-South countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The data that are presented in this article result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. No recent data are available from either Libya or Syria. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of different indicators covering most socio-economic areas.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value;
not applicable.


Agriculture was one of the first sectors of the economy (following coal and steel) to receive the attention of EU policymakers, and statistics on agriculture were initially designed to monitor the main objectives of the common agricultural policy (CAP). While the CAP remains one of the EU’s most important policies there has been a widespread evaluation, which has led to a range of new objectives designed to correct imbalances and overproduction. These changes are reflected in the statistics collected, for example, the development of agri-environmental indicators.

On 18 November 2015, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission jointly presented a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final) which underlined a new approach for the EU in relation to its eastern and southern neighbours, based on stabilising the region in political, economic, and security-related terms.

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics, necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided here.

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Agriculture (med_ag)
Structural information (med_ag1)
Crop production (med_ag2)
Meat (Total production) (med_ag31)
Annual production and utilisation of milk on the farm (med_ag32)
Livestock in number of heads (med_ag33)
Economic Accounts for Agriculture (EAA) (med_ag50)


  1. This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.