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Economy, agriculture and food security
In 2011, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $US1 448 million of which the agriculture sector accounted for 12 percent.
In 2013, the total economically active population is 143 000 inhabitants, or 43 percent of the total population. The economically active population in agriculture is estimated at 33 000 (23 percent of total active population), of which 3 percent is female.
The economy is dependent on agricultural production, forestry and fisheries. The agriculture sector is primarily dependent on traditional export crops such as sugar, citrus and banana. Citrus exports are the principal source of income followed by sugar and banana. Rice, maize and beans are the main domestic food crops.
The country has two major agro-climatic zones: the northern and the southern. The northern zone is relatively flat, with considerable areas of swampland on the coastal plain. Its average annual precipitation is about 1 300 mm, and its calcareous soils are suitable for cultivation of a wide variety of crops. These soils may, however, change abruptly to acidic soils in certain areas. The southern zone encompasses the central mountains and a flat to undulating coastal belt. The siliceous soils of the mountains are not suited for agriculture. The high level of soil acidity and poor drainage conditions constitute important constraints to crop production. In total, only 16 percent of the land is suitable for sustained agricultural production without skilled management.
Two main farming systems can be distinguished: Milpa farming and commercial farming. Milpa farming is based on slash-and-burn practices and is usually carried out on hillsides. It is the basic system used to produce food for domestic consumption: maize, grown during the wet season, and a variety of other crops (including beans, vegetables, root crops and plantains) grown in the subsequent dry season. Commercial farming includes export crops such as sugarcane, oranges, grapefruit, banana and cocoa.