Sugarcane is the major crop. In 2001, 5.8 million tons of cane were produced. Sugarcane occupies 36% of Mauritius' total land area and 70% of its cultivated land. It is an estate economy, with 21 large estates accounting for over half of the land cultivated. The 32,000 small operations account for 25% of the land cultivated and are grouped into cooperatives. In 2001, processing of sugar accounted for 73% of the value added for crop products. Agriculture accounted for 6% of GDP and 21% of exports in 2001. Sugar's importance has diminished in recent years as manufacturing and tourism have grown.
Tea production in Mauritius has been on the decline, disadvantaged by production cost increases, labor shortages, and low world prices. The area under tea cultivation declined from 2,905 ha (7,178 acres) in 1990 to 660 in 2001. Tobacco production was 600 tons in 2001, and now provides the raw material for most locally produced cigarettes. In recent years, horticultural products have been successfully grown for export, including flowers (mainly anthuriums), tropical fruits, and vegetables.
Other crops and 1999 yields were (in thousands of tons): tea, 2; potatoes, 15; tomatoes, 11; bananas, 9; peanuts, 1; tobacco, 1; and coconuts, 1. Almost any crop can be grown on Mauritius, but the shortage of land means almost all cereals must be imported, including rice, the staple food. Potatoes and other vegetables are grown in the sugar fields between rows of cane.