Among the nations that made up the former Soviet Union, Armenia was the first to privatize agricultural lands. It broke up the large Soviet-style farms and reallocated the land to small, independent farmers. However, only 17 percent of the country's land is suitable for farming, which severely limits agricultural production. The nation has numerous vineyards and is a major producer of wine and cognac. In 1998 the World Bank provided US$15 million to establish a fund to furnish loans for small farmers.
Despite the limitations of this sector, agriculture provides the largest source of income for Armenia. Agricultural exports totaled US$15.4 million in 1998, or about 34 percent of all of the country's exports. The most significant exports were alcoholic beverages, various fruit juices, calf skins, and processed tomatoes. In 1998, the nation had to import US$297.7 million in agricultural products. In all, 70 percent of all food consumed in Armenia was imported in 1999. The main imports were eggs, sugar, flour, and processed foods.
A variety of crops are cultivated including barley, corn, potatoes, and wheat. In 1999, the total volume of crops produced amounted to 715,400 metric tons. This tally included 425,000 metric tons of potatoes, 220,000 metric tons of wheat, 65,000 metric tons of barley, and 5,200 metric tons of corn. The main livestock products were chicken, beef, and pork. In 1999, total agricultural production declined by 4.2 percent.
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