Agricultural output is dominated by subsistence crops. Agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) accounted for 54% of GDP in 2001, and it employed about 74% of the labor force. The FAO estimates that about 2,020,000 hectares (4,991,000 acres, or 3.2% of the total land area) are arable or under permanent crops, and 3,000,000 hectares (7,400,000 acres, or4.8% of total land area) are in permanent pasture. The CAR is nearly self-sufficient in food production and has potential as an exporter.
Manioc, the basic food crop, is raised on about 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres); output was about 579,000 tons in 1999. Bananas are the second major food crop. Production was 115,000 tons in 1999, while plantain production was 82,000 tons. Other food crops in 1999 included 95,000 tons of corn, 12,000 tons of millet, and 29,000 tons of sorghum. Some tropical fruits are produced in small quantities, including 22,000 tons of oranges and 2,000 tons of lemons and limes in 1999. An oil-palm plantation covering 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) opened in 1986 at Bossongo, 35 km (22 mi) sw of Bangui. In 1999, production of palm oil totaled 7,000 tons.
The first commercial cotton production in French Equatorial Africa began in Ubangi-Shari in 1924. Cotton is grown in the Bamingui and Gribingui river valleys. In 1969–70, 58,000 tons of seed cotton were produced, a national high, but production quickly slumped: in 1999, it totaled 35,000 tons.
Another important cash crop is high-quality coffee, which is cultivated on the plateaus along with sisal and tobacco; coffee production was 9,900 tons in 2001/2002; coffee exports were valued at $2.8 million in 2001.
Production of peanuts, which are cultivated in conjunction with cotton, was an estimated 110,000 tons in 1999.