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Patterns of Economic Development

Agriculture

Farming is by far the leading economic activity in Central America. The principal cash crops, such as coffee, bananas, sugarcane, and cotton, are typically produced on large landholdings, and a substantial proportion are exported, mainly to the United States and Europe. Food for local consumption is raised mainly on small farms; most of it is consumed by the farm families, and relatively little is marketed. The chief subsistence food commodities are corn, beans, bananas, manioc, rice, and poultry. Cattle are raised on big ranches located mainly in the drier regions of western Central America. Modern farming methods are used on the large landholdings, but the small farmers generally use relatively simple techniques that hold down productivity.

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