Togo is predominantly an agricultural country, with about four-fifths of the work force engaged in farming. Approximately 12% of the land area is arable. Most food crops are produced by subsistence farmers who operate on family farms of less than three ha (7 acres). Peanuts and sorghum are grown in the extreme north; sorghum, yams, and cotton in the region around Niamtougou; sorghum, cotton, and corn in the central region; coffee, cocoa, and cotton in the southern plateau; and manioc, corn, and copra near the coast. Agriculture accounted for about 39% of GDP in 2001.
In the late 1990s, the government emphasized food production. Main food crops in 1999 (in tons) included manioc, 579,000; yams, 696,000; corn, 350,000; sorghum, 137,000; and millet, 41,000. Although Togo is basically self-sufficient in food, certain cereals—notably wheat, which cannot be grown in Togo—must be imported.
Leading cash crops are coffee and cocoa, followed by cotton, palm kernels, copra, peanuts, and shea nuts (karité). Coffee production decreased from 22,000 tons in 1991 to 13,000 tons in 1999. Cocoa production amounted to just 9,000 tons in 1999—less than half the amount produced a dozen years earlier. When world prices for both coffee and cocoa fell in the mid-1980s, there was a greater emphasis on cotton production, with cotton exports increasing by over 400% from 1984 to 1992. Cotton production averaged 7,000 tons annually from 1979 to 1981; production in 1999 totaled 69,000 tons of fiber. A new state organization, the Togolese Cotton Co., had been set up in 1974 to develop the industry. Production of palm kernels, historically erratic, was estimated at 14,000 tons in 1999. There are over 100,000 coconut trees in Togo; about 2,000 tons of copra are produced annually. The peanut crop in 1999 was 27,000 tons (shelled). Some attempts are being made to export pineapples, house plants, vegetables, and palm oil.