Agriculture is the largest employer in Azerbaijan. In 1999, it had 32 percent of the total workforce and a 22 percent share of the total GDP. The primary products are grains, cotton, tobacco, potatoes, other vegetables, grapes, melons and gourds, fruits, and tea. The sector meets most of Azerbaijan's grain needs. Farming is concentrated in central Azerbaijan along the Kura and Araxes rivers, where the land is fertile. The collective and state farms that were common in the Soviet times have been dismantled, leaving room for smaller farms. Cotton, an important export crop, experienced sharp declines in production in 1999 due to shortages and price increases of fertilizers, defoliants, and spare parts of harvesting machinery.
The total value of agricultural exports decreased from US$168.2 million in 1994 to US$96 million in 1998, representing a decrease of 43 percent. Agricultural exports accounted for 26.2 percent of total exports in 1994, decreasing to 15.8 percent in 1998. Fishing also is an important sector, with 90 percent of the world's caviar production coming from the Caspian Sea.