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Map of agricultural land of continental Africa

The map is based on Copernicus Global Land Cover data which shows actual land cover (what physically covers land across the globe—forests, grasslands, croplands, lakes, wetlands, built-up area, etc) at 100m x 100m resolution. The land cover data for Africa was overlaid on (high resolution) satellite imagery of Africa, which is then used to determine the land use (by visual interpretation) associated with the various land cover patterns on the Copernicus Global Land Cover map.

Copernicus land cover data offers several advantages: it is of high quality, has a high resolution (100m x 100m), and offers time series satellite imagery. More importantly, the Copernicus Global Land Service is a continuous process and its datasets are updated annually. This means that the Soils4Africa map of agricultural land can be updated every time the land cover data for the new year becomes available (the map is currently based on 2019 data).

The Copernicus dataset already includes the category ‘cropland,’ which by definition is part of agricultural land. The Soils4Africa map broadens the scope of that dataset by infering information on agricultural use and including other kinds of agricultural land use such as grazing pastures and plantations.

When land is mapped as other than ‘cropland'-- like ‘shrubland’ for example-- it is more difficult to interpret and determine whether it is under agricultural use. The Copernicus dataset includes information about ‘fractional cover’-- or the percentage of a particular pixel under a particular kind of land cover (for example, 30% of a 100m x 100m pixel could be forest and 20% could be shrubland). The Soils4Africa map takes into account how fractional cover varies over an area to establish rules for interpreting its land cover data to determine whether it is under agricultural use and for what purpose. These rules were validated by comparing it with ground level information on land use (or land use pattern) for specific areas drawn from the interpretation of satellite imagery from Google Earth.

For example, ground-level observation shows that forest cover upwards of 30% in a given area when matched by shrubland cover of over 30%, is characterized by woody vegetation with a smooth canopy. Therefore, such area is more likely to be under plantations rather than natural forest. Thus, such an area should be counted as agricultural land, even if less than 15% of it is under crops.

Production of the map was led by The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). For more details/ queries/ feedback, please contact and


The map is available in Geotiff file format, in a 100m x 100m resolution (corresponding to the resolution of the Copernicus dataset). It can be downloaded from here:  version 1, version 2 (DISCLAIMER: The map is under review and subject to changes if deemed necessary. As such, the European Commission and European Research Executive Agency are not responsible of the content of the documents. Any subsequent updates will be shared and flagged as such. )

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