Declining soil fertility, natural disasters, and cheap imports from abroad have all contributed to agriculture's decline. It is calculated that only one-third of Haiti's land is arable, but nearer one-half is under cultivation, adding to deforestation and soil erosion. The land is often too mountainous to produce sufficient yields while, in the more fertile valleys, disputes over land ownership have often led to violence. Technology is largely lacking.
The main export crop is coffee, but it contributed less than 6 percent of earnings in 1999. Many small-scale coffee farmers have switched to food crops because of high taxes and exorbitant percentages demanded by the middlemen who buy the coffee from the peasants to sell on the international market. Other small export crops include mangos and essential oils for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries in the United States. Subsistence farming is also in decline, hit by an influx of rice and wheat, some of it smuggled in from the Dominican Republic and some sent to the country as humanitarian aid. Most of what is produced by small farmers is consumed or sold locally, but Haiti's main imports continue to be basic foodstuffs.