Agriculture accounts for only 3 percent of the UAE's GDP due to the federation's severe climatic conditions, although it accounts for 20 percent of all water consumed, much from rapidly-depleting natural water supplies or desalinization projects. The UAE's agricultural sector annually produces about 600,000 tons of produce. The federation's chief crops are cereals. The UAE produces enough poultry and salad to meet its needs for most of the year. Some crops, such as tomatoes, are grown in quantities greater than what the UAE consumes in a whole year. The agriculture sector also produces water-melons, eggs, cucumbers, gherkins, aubergines (egg-plants), green chilies, peppers, and dates.
For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, fishing and pearl diving were mainstays of UAE commerce. Today the government works to conserve fish stocks and protect the economic livelihood of the remaining fishing communities. The annual fish catch—96,000 tons— slightly exceeds domestic consumption.
Because a high proportion of UAE nationals are employed in fishing and agriculture, these 2 sectors receive a disproportionate amount of federal and local funding. For political reasons, the UAE government will continue to encourage agricultural self-sufficiency but it is aware that this goal is unattainable in either the short-or long-term.