poultry farming, tropical fruits, GDP, backbone, labor force
Once the backbone of the economy, agriculture has become less important in Puerto Rico. Less land is under cultivation, and farmers are producing fewer major crops. Farming has stagnated chiefly because large-scale investment has gone into industry rather than agriculture. In 1947 almost 40 percent of the labor force worked on farms. Only about 5 percent worked on farms by 1978; by 1999 agriculture employed 2.2 percent of the islandís workforce and produced less than 1 percent of the GDP.
By the end of the 20th century, the Puerto Rican government had encouraged agricultural diversification away from the traditional export crops of coffee, tobacco, and sugar. By the 1990s dairy, cattle, and poultry farming had outstripped those traditional crops as money earners. Although fruits and vegetables were grown for local consumption and tropical fruits were exported to Europe, Japan, and the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico still imported most of its food from the United States.
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