Located between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean in central America, Costa Rica has a population of close to 5 million. The territory has tropical and subtropical climate zones and more than half of it is forest. Five percent of the land is arable and 6.7% is made up of permamnent crops.
Costa Rica has historically been a predominantly agricultural country, dedicated to traditional export crops such as coffee, sugar and bananas all of which are also important for domestic consumption. Other traditional crops include primarily grains, vegetables and fruit are for local consumption. Today, the agriculture sector employs 14% of the Costa Rican working force and makes up 6% of the country’s GDP.
Latest trends in globalization have offered export opportunities for non-traditional products like pineapple, melon, foliage, and ornamental crops among others. These latter crops now largely exceed the production of traditional crops. The orientation of Costa Rican agriculture towards export markets has required a growing use of imported seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals. The country still remains interdependent when it comes to crop diversity. Notable food imports are maize, soybeans and wheat. In fact, 76-96% of the food energy consumed in Costa Rica comes from crops that are not native to the region. Most of these plants’ diversity is found elsewhere on the planet.
Ensuring that notable imports such as maize, soybeans and wheat are able to adapt to the challenges that agriculture faces today and tomorrow is of the utmost importance, not only to Costa Rica, but also the world.
Costa Rica ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in 2006, joining 134 other contracting parties in commitment to the global system for the conservation of crop diversity.
Data: FAOSTAT, CIA Factbook, World Bank, National Geographic
Image Credit: Trey Redcliff