The economy of Benin is essentially agricultural representing 37% of the GDP. More than 75% of the population is occupied in this sector producing cotton, palm oil products, coffee, crude oil and cocoa beans for exportation.
Cotton exportation has increased, but under-utilisation and misuse of technical expertise result in a decrease in productivity. Opening up the economy, improving public administration, civil service reform and anti-corruption efforts are necessary for increased economic growth.
The economy of Benin is divided into the formal sector, which covers all government, industry and part of agricultural production while the informal sector consists of food and cash crops which allows for informal trade with Nigeria. Benin is largely self sufficient in food production, but imports large amounts of rice. There is room for a considerable increase in rice production.
In the drier north of Benin, livestock farming takes place and fishing communities exist on the rivers, lakes and lagoons. Future plans exist to develop the timber industry and make use of Benin’s potential forestry industry.