Total arable land only amounts to 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres), or just 0.5% of the total land area. Agricultural activity is concentrated in the south, especially in the Niari Valley. Main crops for local consumption are manioc (800,000 tons in 1999), plantains (78,000 tons), yams, (14,000 tons), bananas (52,000 tons), sugarcane (455,000 tons), and peanuts (23,000 tons). Small amounts of tobacco are also grown. Domestic production of cereals plummeted in the 1990s; by 1999, grain production was 80% less than it had been during 1989–91. Landholdings are small, averaging less than 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres) per plot.
Export crops are coffee, cocoa, and palm oil; in 1999, 1,000 tons of coffee and 2,000 tons of cocoa beans were produced. Palm trees are under the management of a state-owned company. Production of oil from palm kernels, mainly from palm trees indigenous to the Niari Valley, the Pool Malebo, and the Bateke Plateau regions, was estimated at 17,000 tons in 1999. The rural population has fallen from 80% in 1960 to 38% in 2000. Since 1987, the government has encouraged agricultural development by abolishing state marketing boards and retail monopolies, freeing prices, removing tariffs on essential inputs, launching new agricultural credit institutions, and selling or closing most state farms. Sugar output rebounded after a 1989 restructuring of the sugar industry, which has since been privatized.