Only about 0.7% of total land area is arable. Crop production is hampered by traditional farming methods, recurrent drought, erosion, and disease. Most of the land under cultivation is in the eastern region. The principal crops for domestic use are sorghum, corn, and millet. Sorghum and corn production in 1999 were 13,000 tons and 5,000 tons, respectively. The sorghum and corn harvests comprise less than 10% of the annual requirement of 250,000 tons. In 2001, Botswana imported 174,198 tons of cereals, valued at almost $53 million. Grain is usually imported from Zimbabwe and South Africa. Smaller quantities of cowpeas, beans, and other pulses are also grown. The 1999 output of all these crops was about 20,000 tons; in addition, 16,000 tons of vegetables and 10,000 tons of fruit were grown.
Agricultural research has been devoted to soil conservation, grazing experiments, and developing and distributing improved strains of grain. The construction of dams and the drilling of boreholes to tap underground water are continuing government programs. In early 1990, the government changed its official agricultural policy to emphasize the production only of those foodstuffs which can be raised economically. The Arable Lands Development Program and the Tribal Grazing Land Policy are government programs designed to help farmers in communal areas.