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Economy, agriculture and food security
Agricultural production played a significant role in the national economy in the period preceding the discovery of oil. Nowadays the national economy is dominated by its dependence on crude oil. In 2006 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$35.7 billion, and agriculture accounted for almost 2 percent of GDP (2000). The economically active population is 977 000 (2005) of which 83 percent is male and 17 percent female. About one-third of this is economically active in agriculture, of which 93 percent is male and 7 percent female.
The contribution of local agricultural products to food security is almost constant: 36 percent of the total consumption, in spite of the increase in population and the decrease of the harvested crop land from 72 000 ha in 2000 to 63 606 ha in 2004 because of drought and changes in land use policy. All cultivated areas are irrigated and the main crops are dates (more than half of the cultivated area) and fodder (more than one-fifth). While agricultural production has improved greatly, water shortage in some regions, salinity increase in wells and surface irrigation are limitative factors in terms of productivity.
Agricultural production takes place predominantly on small farm units. More than 91 percent of the total farm holdings occupy less than 5 ha and cover more than 52.4 percent of the total cropped land. Production is market-oriented and uses new farming technologies including hybrid seeds, commercial fertilizers and pesticides, mechanization and water saving irrigation systems.