Estonia has a population of around 1.3 million people. The Estonian agricultural area is 1.450 million hectares, which represents one third of the whole territory. Comparatively low soil quality and a short growing season lead to relatively low crop yields. Despite decreased volumes, food exports remain the second biggest group of exports. Agriculture has traditionally been one of the most important sectors in the Estonian economy. Before independence, the primary sector employed 20 % of the labor force.
Agricultural production focuses on the following food crops: wheat, rapeseed, barely, potatoes, and oats.
86-96% of the food energy consumed in Estonia comes from crops that are not native to the region. Most of these plants’ diversity is found elsewhere around the planet. There are 2,795 crop varieties in collections of crop diversity found in Estonia compared to the more than 700,000 found in the international collections of crop diversity supported by the Crop Trust.
Estonia signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in 2009, joining 132 other contracting parties in commitment to a global system.