Agriculture in the general sense is not on a large scale in Kiribati. Rural existence is based on the cultivation of the coconut tree for food and housing, with a proportion of the produce being used for a monetary income from the sale of copra. Most protein foods come from the ocean and the lagoons. Apart from coconut and marine life, the other component of the diet is swamp taro or "babai" (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) or giant swamp taro which is grown in pits dug to the water table, and into which various forms of compost are added (Ali, 1987). The pits vary in size from a few square metres to a quarter of a hectare or more.
Copra is the only exported agricultural product. Efforts are being made to establish breeds of pigs, poultry and goats suitable for local breeding. Table 1 contains information on goat numbers, domestic meat production in Kiribati and various imports.