Solomon Islands - Agriculture
About 2% of the total land area is utilized for temporary or permanent crops. Agriculture accounts for about 42% of GDP. Copra (coconut meat) is typically the dominant export and the economic lifeline of the Solomons; world copra prices strongly affect the economy, so that a decline in copra prices in 1985 inaugurated an economic slump, exacerbated by the effects of Cyclone Namu. In 1992, production of copra increased by over 30% from 1991, for a total of 38,500 tons. The rebound in 1992 came from a near doubling of world prices and better coordination of domestic shipping. Copra production in 1999 was estimated at 22,000 tons. About 75% of the copra is produced by small holders, principally on Guadalcanal, Choiseul, the Russell Islands, San Cristobal, Santa Isabel, and Vella Lavella. Development plans called for crop diversification and the construction of a copra mill on the islands. The overseas marketing of copra is a monopoly of the government's Solomon Islands Copra Board. Other agricultural products in 1999 included cocoa, 3,000 tons; palm oil, 31,000 tons; and palm kernels, 7,000 tons. In 2001, agricultural products accounted for 72.7% of exports and 41.1% of imports. Exports of palm, copra, and cocoa typically account for over 20% of total exports.
The major food crops are coconuts, yams, taro, sweet potatoes, cassava, and green vegetables. The government has encouraged the cultivation of rice, rotated with soybeans, in the Guadalcanal plains; however, cyclone losses resulted in increased dependence on imported rice.