Brazil has been the world's second largest exporter of agricultural goods since 1977. With the exception of imported wheat, Brazil is self-sufficient in food. In 1993, 48.9 million hectares (121 million acres) of land was available for agriculture in Brazil, the fifth largest agricultural area in the world. In 1999 agriculture accounted for 8.4 percent of the total GDP, a decrease from 11 percent in 1979. Average annual growth of agriculture as a percentage of the total gross domestic product was 3.4 percent in the 1979-1989 period, and 2.9 percent in the 1989-1999 period. Annual growth of agriculture as a percentage of gross domestic product leapt to 9.5 percent in 1999, due to the expansion of the export sector. This expansion occurred because the Brazilian government de-valued its currency by nearly 60 percent in 1999, making Brazilian agricultural exports extremely cheap. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee, oranges, and sugar in the world; and is a primary exporter of coffee, cocoa, soybeans, orange juice, and sugar. The country imports rice, wheat, and barley.
Livestock, dairy, and poultry production play an important role in Brazilian agriculture. Since the 1940s, cattle have become one of the country's major sources of income. The area devoted to open pasture in 1994 was equal to 185.5 million hectares (458.38 million acres). This area occupied more than one-fifth of the total country. The government provided incentives to stimulate production, food conservation, and a more effective distribution of meat and dairy products.