Agriculture is the backbone of the economy and contributes about 43 per cent to the GDP (2011 est.) and 65 per cent of employment. As the country has various climatic and soil conditions, as many as 60 crops ranging from tropical to moderate temperate varieties can be grown. They include rice, wheat, maize, millet, beans, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, jute, rubber, sugar cane, toddy palm, tobacco, spices, and many others that are edible and non-edible.
Bestowed with good climate and soil, agriculture remains to be its base of economy, producing mainly rice and timber. Forest has been cleared by cutting and burning at such a fast rate leading to deforestation.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has formulated three main policies to develop agriculture. They are:
- To allow agricultural production to be carried out freely;
- To expand agricultural land; and
- To allow private enterprises to cultivate crops, fruit trees, perennial crops, and to produce agricultural machinery.
The Ministry has also established three objectives, they are:
- To be self-sufficient in paddy production and also to export paddy;
- To be self-sufficient in oil seed crops; and
- To produce more pulses and beans for export, and more industrial crops for use in local industries.
To achieve these objectives, four strategies will be employed:
- New agricultural land will be developed;
- Irrigation facilities will be provided;
- Use of mechanization in agriculture will be promoted; and
- High-yielding seeds will be developed and used.