Antigua and Barbuda - Agriculture
The collapse of the sugar industry in the 1970s left the government in control of 60 percent of Antigua's 66,000 acres of sugar cane plantations. The main agricultural exports include cotton to Japan and fruit and vegetables to other Caribbean territories. Hot peppers and vegetables are exported to the United Kingdom and Canada. Other agriculture products are bananas, coconuts, cucumbers, mangoes, livestock, and pineapples.
Agriculture accounts for a rather insignificant part of the economy, making up 4 percent in 1996 and falling to 3.6 percent in 1998. According to the Americas Review 1999 , there were 2,000 persons employed in agriculture in 1999. However, it appears that cultivation is on the rise. In 1998 there were 279.8 acres of land planted with vegetables. In 1999 there were 340.1 acres under cultivation, 73.3 acres of which were planted with onions. In 1999 alone some 319,275 pounds of vegetables were produced. The government has received the assistance of the European Development Fund to develop the livestock subsector.
Problems confronting the agricultural sector include soil depletion and drought. Antigua does not have any rivers and is short on groundwater. Consequently, drinking water is collected from rainfall or imported from neighboring territories. Several hotels have seawater desalination facilities. The state also supplements its water distribution service with desalinated water.
Some 3 million pounds of fish are caught per year, according to 1997 figures. At that time Barbuda alone was exporting 260,000 pounds of lobster annually. Fish hauls increased in 1998, an indication that this sector has recovered significantly from hurricane damage sustained between 1995 and 1998. The East Caribbean Central Bank reported in 1999 that fish as well as crop production were the main contributors to agriculture in 1999. There are a few shrimp and lobster farms on Antigua. In addition, the Smithsonian Institute runs a project which farms Caribbean king crabs for domestic consumption.