Owing to the density of the tropical rain forest, only a small proportion of land area is suitable for agricultural activity and only 2 percent is estimated to be under cultivation. With over 50 percent of the population living in towns and with a poor road infrastructure , the contribution to GDP of the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector is very modest by African standards at approximately 10 percent in the 1990s. The country lacks self-sufficiency in staple crops and over half of food requirements must be imported. Cocoa, coffee, palm oil, and rubber are cultivated for export. The principal subsistence crops are plantains, cassava, and maize. Coffee and cocoa were once relatively significant cash crops with a small amount available for export, but outputs for both have been falling since the 1980s.
Animal husbandry was for many decades hindered by the prevalence of the tsetse fly (a bloodsucking fly that causes disease in cattle), until the first tsetse-resistant cattle were imported in 1980. Livestock numbers have since risen, with 1998 estimates standing at 39,000 head of cattle, 208,000 pigs, 259,000 sheep, and 24,000 goats. The Societe Gabonaise de Developpement d'Ellevage (an offshoot of AgroGabon) manages 3 cattle ranches covering 14,000 hectares (34,595 acres). Poultry farming is mainly on a smallholder basis. The fishing catch, at 45,000 metric tons, falls well below total demand. Industrial fleets account for about 25 percent of the catch, and about half of the total catch comes from marine waters.