Cape Verde - Agriculture

Although agriculture and fishing only accounted for 13 percent of GDP in 1998, it was still a significant source of employment. However, flooding and droughts make agricultural production extremely unsteady. The most important crops are sugarcane, maize, and beans, while cash crops like bananas, pineapples, and coffee are being encouraged. Currently bananas are the only exported crop.

Agriculture has been affected by an unequal land-holding system, overpopulation of cultivable land, and the excessive subdivision of plots. Since independence the government has worked to reform the landholding system and more recently has turned its attention to maximizing water usage. Estimates suggest there is enough water available to cultivate 8,600 hectares (21,251 acres), compared to the present cultivation of only 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres).

Fishing (including lobster and tuna fishing) accounted for 2 percent of GDP in 1998 and is an important source of foreign currency. Cape Verde's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 734,265 square kilometers (283,500 square miles) and contains one of the last under-used fishing grounds in the world. In the long term Cape Verde expects to expand its fishing industry, with the island of Sao Vicente having the greatest potential. A recent deal was signed with Senegal and Guinea that opens their waters to Cape Verdean fishermen.

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