Agriculture in Gabon
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Since independence, the dominant position of the petroleum sector has greatly reduced the role of agriculture in Gabon. Only 1.9 percent of the total land area is estimated to be under cultivation, and agriculture contributes only about 8 percent of the GDP on the average. In 2004, agricultural imports by Gabon accounted for nearly 19 percent of all imports.
Gabon relies heavily on other African states and Europe for much of its food and other agricultural needs. Until World War II (1939–45), agriculture was confined primarily to subsistence farming and the cultivation of such crops as manioc, bananas, corn, rice, taro, and yams. Since independence there has been an intensive effort to diversify and increase agricultural production. Experimental stations and demonstration farms have been set up, and cooperatives have been established by consolidating rural communities. However, agriculture received low priority until the 1976–81 development plan, and laborers prefer to seek employment in urban areas. The development of agriculture and small business has been hindered by a lack of international competition. Another problem is lack of transportation to markets.
In 2004, Gabon produced about 230,000 tons of cassava, 155,000 tons of yams, 61,800 tons of other roots and tubers, 270,000 tons of plantains, 35,410 tons of vegetables, and 31,000 tons of corn. Sugarcane production was about 235,000 tons. Cocoa production in 2004 was 600 tons.
A state-owned 7,500 hectare (18,500 acre) palm oil plantation near Lambaréné began production in 1986. Palm oil production was 6,400 tons in 2004. A 4,300 hectare (10,600 acre) rubber project was being developed; rubber production in 2004 was 11,000 tons.
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