Over 16% of the national territory is agriculturally productive; because of the uneconomical system of land use, much arable land has not been exploited. Agriculture is the primary sector of the economy, accounting for about 14% of GDP and 34% of employment in 2001. Farming methods are inefficient, and crop yields and qualities are low. The principal export crops are bananas and coffee; the major subsistence crops are corn, sorghum, beans, and rice. In 1999, agricultural production was 16% higher than during 1989–91. The trade surplus in agricultural products totaled $232.6 million in 2001. Crop production for 1999 included sugarcane, 4,286,000 tons; bananas, 861,000 tons; sorghum, 71,000 tons; dry beans, 53,000 tons; rice, 12,000 tons.
Since 1972, agrarian reform has been an announced priority of the national government. In January 1975, plans were made for the distribution of 600,000 hectares (1,483,000 acres) of land among 100,000 families over a five-year period. The program was suspended in 1979 because of lack of funds and pressure from landowners; by that time, only about one-third of the goal had been met. The reform program was revived in the early 1980s, and in 1982, lands totaling 27,960 hectares (69,090 acres) were distributed to 4,000 peasant families. By 1986, however, land reform was at a virtual standstill; peasant groups, demanding immediate land distribution, staged "land invasions" and seized the offices of the National Agrarian Institute in San Pedro Sula. The agricultural modernization law eliminated subsidized credit to small farmers, while high commercial interest rates squeezed small farmers from the credit market.