Of the islands' total land area, about 39% is devoted to crops. The principal agricultural product of St. Kitts is sugarcane; peanuts are now the second crop. On Nevis, sea island cotton and coconuts are the major commodities. Sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, and breadfruit are grown for local consumption on both islands, mostly by individual smallholders. In 2001, agricultural products accounted for about 18.5% of total imports by value and 11.2% of exports; the government has embarked on a program to substitute for food imports.
Sugar estate lands were nationalized in 1975, and the sugar factory was purchased by the government the following year. The output of raw sugar slumped between 1986 and 1989, and as a result the government entered into a management agreement with Booke and Tate of Great Britain in August 1991; a World Bank loan of US$1.9 million was utilized to provide financial stability. Sugar production in 1999 was estimated at 197,000 tons. Faced with a sugar industry that was finding it increasingly difficult to earn a profit, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis embarked on a program to diversify the agricultural sector and stimulate the development of other sectors of the economy, particularly tourism. In July 2005, sugar production ceased.
Pasture areas are small, covering some 2.7% of the islands. Pangola and Bermuda grasses provide the bulk of the fodder. Estimates of livestock in 2001 were sheep, 14,000; goats, 14,400; cattle, 4,300 head; and pigs, 4,000.
Fishing is a traditional occupation that has not expanded to any great extent; the catch in 2000 was 257 tons (down from 620 tons in 1990). Some exports (primarily lobsters) are made to the Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico; fisheries exports totaled US$245,000 in 2000. Fish is caught by traditional methods such as beach-seining, pot and trap fishing & hand-lining. The catch is not enough to satisfy local demand for fish. Large quantities of dried, salted and smoked fish, as well as frozen are imported from Canada and USA.
Both islands have small stands of virgin tropical forest, with palms, poincianas, and palmettos. About 11% of the land area consists of forests. Imports of forest products nearly reached US$1.8 million in 2000..