The Bahamas - Agriculture
The Bahamas is a net importer of foodstuffs, buying 80 percent of its consumables. Agriculture and fisheries make up about 5 percent of GDP and about 5 percent of employment. Also, temporary jobs become available during the harvest season and during specific fishing seasons, such as the lobster harvest. Companies have requested that they be allowed to use foreign workers during harvests but the government usually refuses such requests.
The islands' primary crops are bananas, corn, and, by far the most important, sugar cane. In 1998 sugar cane provided 45,000 metric tons of the total crop production of 46,200 metric tons. In addition, beef and veal, chicken, and pork are raised. There are 240,000 acres of land used for agriculture, mostly on the outer islands. Most farms are small and most products are for domestic consumption. Because of the 1999 hurricane season, crop output fell 16.5 percent or US$8.8 million, and poultry and meat production declined by US$6.4 million. However, the output of ornamental plants increased by 11.2 percent. Citrus production has also increased in the past few years.
There have been continued increases in fish output. Total harvests in 1999 were 6.3 million pounds with a value of US$74.1 million (a 4.3 percent increase from the previous year). Lobster or crawfish make up 88 percent of total output and rose by 23 percent in 2000. Fish production will continue to expand and diversify as the government establishes new fish farms and funds efforts to broaden harvests to new species.