Benin Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture accounts for around one third of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs most of the population. Most Beninis grow for their own use or live from livestock farming in the north. Cotton is the most important export crop.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Benin. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Benin is now almost self-sufficient with basic foods. The most important crops are cassava, jams, corn, rice and sorghum. Beans, pineapples, tomatoes, onions and other vegetables are also grown on a larger scale. Food exports, especially to Nigeria, are growing.

For many years, the oil palm was the most important commercial crop; it yielded palm oil and palm kernels that were exported. At the end of the 1990s, production declined, partly because of falling prices on the world market, but increased again during the 2000s. Today, however, cotton, which accounts for about 70 percent of Benin’s export income, has replaced the oil palm as the most important export crop. Common to both is that they are mainly grown on large plantations, the oil palm in the south and the cotton in the middle part of the country and in the north. For Benin defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.

Cotton production, which is highly dependent on the right weather conditions, grew rapidly in the late 1900s and in 2000 it was around 500,000 tonnes. Since then, production has gradually declined, partly due to too little rainfall but also due to extensive flooding in 2010. Despite new planting of cotton after this and a number of measures to make production more efficient, the country has not been able to reach the high production figures of the 2000s. beginning.

One problem is the changing world market prices for cotton. Falling prices had already in the early 2000s that some farmers switched to other crops. Benin has also, along with other West African cotton producing countries, tried to influence wealthy developing countries, such as the United States, to stop supporting their cotton growers financially (subsidies help to keep world market prices down) and with EU support to get the World Trade Organization to ban cotton subsidies – everything, however, so far in vain. About two million people in Benin are in some way dependent on cotton production and to avoid this, the government encourages the cultivation of other export crops, such as cashew and shean nuts, coffee and cocoa.

Benin’s forests cover about a fifth of the country. Harvesting is primarily done to provide fuel to the population.

Many Beninis fish to feed, often in rivers and lakes inland. No major commercial fishing is conducted. The country’s few thousand registered fishermen are severely affected by the illegal fishing conducted by large foreign vessels in Benin Sea areas.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

22.6 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

33.3 percent (2016)



Yayi pardons murder accused

President Yayi pardons all persons accused of trying to poison him (see October 2012).

Benin Agriculture and Fishing