Agriculture is the dominant economic activity in Madagascar. The great bulk of the work force is involved in agriculture. However, most of the agriculture that is practiced on the island is done by people who are subsistence farmers. This means that agriculture does not contribute as much as it should to the economy when compared to the number of people who work in that sector. Madagascar ends up having to import much of its food.
The main crop that is produced is rice. Rice is grown in the central highlands, typically in irrigated paddies on terraces that have been made on the hillsides. In terms of exports, the main crops that are grown are coffee, vanilla, and cloves.
Much of the subsistence agriculture on Madagascar is done through traditional slash and burn methods. In this type of agriculture, farmers cut the trees and shrubs on a given piece of land and then burn them. After that, they plant the area, using the ashes as fertilizer. This is a destructive method of farming as it destroys forest and ground cover and tends to lead to erosion.