The chief agricultural export product used to be sugar, but now vanilla, copra, maize, cloves, and essential oils (citronella, ylang-ylang, and lemon grass) have gained increasing importance. Crops that are mainly for domestic consumption include cassava, taro (a tropical root crop), rice, maize pulses, coconuts, and bananas. Almost all agricultural production takes place on small family farms, with tilling, weeding, and harvesting undertaken by hand. The success of the harvests heavily relies on rainfall, which is generally adequate and regular. From 1990 to 1996, the real GDP of the agricultural sector declined at an average annual rate of-0.7 percent, mainly as a result of political instability that discouraged investment and poor progress with economic reforms.
In 1995, 9,000 hectares (22,240 acres) of Comoros was forestland, or about 4 percent of the total land area. The shortage of cultivable land, the pressure to increase ylang-ylang production, and the demand for woodfuel are all contributing to deforestation at a rate of 6 percent a year. At present the government has no policies to combat deforestation.
Fishing is small-scale and is accomplished without modern equipment. The catch was estimated at 13,200 metric tons in 1995.