In 1999, about 49% of the economically active population was engaged in agriculture, compared with 85% before World War II (1939–45). Although Albania's mountainous terrain limits the amount of land available for agriculture, the cultivated and arable area was about 26% of the total (700,000 hectares/1,730,000 acres) in 1994. Albania claims to be 95% self-sufficient in food. Nearly two thirds of the population is rural, and agriculture provided 50% of GDP in 2001.
The first collective farm was created in 1946, but collectivization did not move forward on a large scale until 1955. By early 1962, 1,263 collectives included about 2,000 villages and covered almost 80% of the cultivated area. Consolidation reduced the collectives to 1,064 by December 1964. State farms, meanwhile, had expanded and by 1960 they accounted for about 12% of the cultivated area. By 1964, only 10% of the cultivated area was privately farmed, and by 1973, 100% of the agricultural land was reported as socialized, either in collective or state farms. Collective farm consolidations and mergers reduced their number to 420 in April 1983, including "advanced type" cooperatives. The cooperatives accounted for 74% of total agricultural production. By the mid-1980s, the number of collective farmers was about 800,000.
After the government abandoned central planning, the economy collapsed from the void. The decline saw the agricultural sector shrink by 21% in 1991, but agricultural production rebounded in 1992 in response to the privatization of cooperative farms and the elimination of fixed pricing. The number of tractors increased from 359 in 1950 to 4,500 in 1960 and to 12,500 in 1991; about 8,150 were in service in 1998. In 1998, irrigation systems covered 48% of the cropland. Artificial fertilizers supplied to farms rose from 8,000 tons of active substance in 1960 to 99,900 tons in 1978. However, fertilizer use fell from 145 kg per hectare in 1983 to 13 kg per hectare in 2000.
Wheat is the principal crop; corn, oats, sorghum, and potatoes are also important. Greater emphasis is being placed on the production of cash crops—cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar beets, vegetables, sunflowers, and fruits and nuts. FAO estimates of crop output in 1998 (in tons) included wheat, 272,000; corn, 206,000; sugar beets, 40,000; vegetables and melons, 640,000; potatoes, 162,000; grapes, 70,000; oats, 13,000; and sorghum, 14,000.