Nicaragua  is, above all, an agricultural nation—a third of its gross domestic product is agriculture-based, and agriculture represents the fastest growing economic sector, at 8 percent growth per year. However, much of the new land put into agricultural production is opened at the expense of the forests, the indiscriminate harvesting of which has a negative overall effect on the environment and water supply.
Agriculture employs 45 percent of the workforce. Outside of the small, upscale producers who export to international markets, the majority of Nicaraguan agriculture is for domestic consumption, and much of that is subsistence farming. Drought years often require importing of basic grains.
Subsistence farmers typically grow yellow corn and red beans. The choice of red beans over black beans and yellow corn over white corn is cultural and presents additional challenges to farmers, as red beans are more susceptible to drought (and less nutritious) than black or soybeans.
The Sébaco Valley is an agriculturally productive area and the primary source of wet rice for local consumption; it’s also widely planted with onions. Extensive irrigation of rice plantations caused the water table in the Sébaco Valley to drop more than three meters in the 1990s.
Jinotega’s cool climate is a major source of fruit and vegetable production, including cabbage, peppers, onions, melons, watermelons, squash, and tomatoes.