major cash crop, tobacco production, cotton production, civil conflict, rice production
Agriculture provides 32 percent of Nicaragua’s GDP, the highest in Central America. Production fell during Sandinista rule, from 1979 to 1990, because of government policies and civil conflict. Efforts at land reform improved the life of some rural residents, but food production declined in the late 1980s, as did the output of cotton, sugar, and other export crops.
Recovery has been slow in the 1990s. Coffee is a major cash crop, with production totaling 75,000 metric tons of raw beans in 2001. Cereal grains such as corn, rice, and sorghum are other important crops, with 650,000 metric tons harvested in 2001. Sesame production has increased in recent years, and cotton production has begun to recover. From 1995 to 1996 bean and rice production suffered from floods, and production of chickens and pigs declined. Cattle production, while increasing, remains below 1970s levels. Most coffee, cotton, and sesame is exported, along with part of the banana, sugar, meat, and tobacco production. Cattle, banana, and sugar exports remain below the levels of the 1970s.
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