A cash crop or profit crop is an agricultural crop which is grown for
sale to return a profit. It is typically purchased by parties separate
from a farm. The term is used to differentiate marketed crops from
subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock
or grown as food for the producer's family. In earlier times cash
crops were usually only a small (but vital) part of a farm's total
yield, while today, especially in developed countries, almost all
crops are mainly grown for revenue. In the least developed countries,
cash crops are usually crops which attract demand in more developed
nations, and hence have some export value.
Prices for major cash crops are set in commodity markets with global
scope, with some local variation (termed as "basis") based on freight
costs and local supply and demand balance. A consequence of this is
that a nation, region, or individual producer relying on such a crop
may suffer low prices should a bumper crop elsewhere lead to excess
supply on the global markets. This system has been criticized by
Coffee is an example of a product that has been
susceptible to significant commodity futures price variations.
2 Per climate zones
3 By continent and country
3.4 United States
4 Global cash crops
5 Sustainability of cash crops
Black market cash crops
7 See also
9 External links
Issues involving subsidies and trade barriers on such crops have
become controversial in discussions of globalization. Many developing
countries take the position that the current international trade
system is unfair because it has caused tariffs to be lowered in
industrial goods while allowing for low tariffs and agricultural
subsidies for agricultural goods.[clarification needed] This makes it
difficult for a developing nation to export its goods overseas, and
forces developing nations to compete with imported goods which are
exported from developed nations at artificially low prices. The
practice of exporting at artificially low prices is known as
dumping, and is illegal in most nations. Controversy over this
issue led to the collapse of the
Cancún trade talks in 2003, when the
Group of 22
Group of 22 refused to consider agenda items proposed by the European
Union unless the issue of agricultural subsidies was addressed.
Per climate zones
Arctic climate is generally not conducive for the cultivation of
cash crops. However, one potential cash crop for the
Rhodiola rosea, a hardy plant used as a medicinal herb that grows in
the Arctic. There is currently consumer demand for the plant, but
the available supply is less than the demand (as of 2011).
Cash crops grown in regions with a temperate climate include many
cereals (wheat, rye, corn, barley, oats), oil-yielding crops (e.g.
rapeseed, mustard seeds), vegetables (e.g. potatoes), tree fruit or
top fruit (e.g. apples, cherries) and soft fruit (e.g. strawberries,
A tea plantation in the
Cameron Highlands in Malaysia
In regions with a subtropical climate, oil-yielding crops (e.g.
soybeans) and some vegetables and herbs are the predominant cash
In regions with a tropical climate, coffee, cocoa, sugar cane,
bananas, oranges, cotton and jute (a soft, shiny vegetable fiber that
can be spun into coarse, strong threads), are common cash crops. The
oil palm is a tropical palm tree, and the fruit from it is used to
make palm oil.
By continent and country
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the
Anglophone countries and do not represent a worldwide view of the
subject. You may improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk
page, or create a new article, as appropriate. (June 2012) (Learn how
and when to remove this template message)
Jatropha curcas is a cash crop used to produce biofuel.
Around 60 percent of African workers are employed in the agricultural
sector, with about three-fifths of African farmers being subsistence
farmers. For example, in
Burkina Faso 85% of its
residents (over two million people) are reliant upon cotton production
for income, and over half of the country's population lives in
poverty. Larger farms tend to grow cash crops such as coffee,
tea, cotton, cocoa, fruit and rubber. These farms, typically
operated by large corporations, cover tens of square kilometres and
employ large numbers of laborers. Subsistence farms provide a source
of food and a relatively small income for families, but generally fail
to produce enough to make re-investment possible.
The situation in which African nations export crops while a
significant number of people on the continent struggle with hunger has
been blamed on developed countries, including the United States,
Japan and the European Union. These countries protect
their own agricultural sectors, through high import tariffs and offer
subsidies to their farmers, which some have contended is leading to
the overproduction of commodities such as cotton, grain and
milk. The result of this is that the global price of
such products is continually reduced until Africans are unable to
compete in world markets, except in cash crops that do not grow
easily in temperate climates.
Africa has realized significant growth in biofuel plantations, many of
which are on lands which were purchased by British companies.
Jatropha curcas is a cash crop grown for biofuel production in
Africa. Some have criticized the practice of raising non-food
plants for export while Africa has problems with hunger and food
shortages, and some studies have correlated the proliferation of land
acquisitions, often for use to grow non-food cash crops with
increasing hunger rates in Africa.
Australia produces significant amounts of lentils. It was
estimated in 2010 that
Australia would produce approximately 143,000
tons of lentils. Most of Australia's lentil harvest is exported to
the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.
Italy's Cassa per il Mezzogiorno in 1950 led to the government
implementing incentives to grow cash crops such as tomatoes, tobacco
and citrus fruits. As a result they created an over abundance of these
crops causing an over saturation of these crops on the global market.
This caused these crops to depreciate in value
See also: List of U.S. state foods
Oranges are a significant U.S. cash crop.
Cash cropping in the
United States rose to prominence after the baby
boomer generation and the end of World War II. It was seen as a way to
feed the large population boom and continues to be the main factor in
having an affordable food supply in the United States. According to
the 1997 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 90% of the farms in the United
States are still owned by families, with an additional 6% owned by a
Cash crop farmers have utilized precision
agricultural technologies combined with time-tested practices to
produce affordable food. Based upon
United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) statistics for 2010, states with the highest fruit
production quantities are California,
Florida and Washington.
Various potato cultivars
Sliced sugarcane, a significant cash crop in Hawaii
Coconut is a cash crop of Vietnam.
Global cash crops
Coconut palms are cultivated in more than 80 countries of the world,
with a total production of 61 million tonnes per year. The
oil and milk derived from it are commonly used in cooking and frying;
coconut oil is also widely used in soaps and cosmetics.
Sustainability of cash crops
Approximately 70% of the world’s food is produced by 500 million
smallholder farmers. For their livelihood they depend
on the production of cash crops, basic commodities that are hard to
differentiate in the market. The great majority (80%) of the world’s
farms measure 2 hectares or less. These smallholder farmers are
mainly found in developing countries and are often unorganized,
illiterate or enjoyed only basic education. Smallholder farmers have
little bargaining power and incomes are low, leading to a situation in
which they cannot invest much in upscaling their businesses. In
general, farmers lack access to agricultural inputs and finance, and
do not have enough knowledge on good agricultural and business
practices. These high level problems are in many cases threatening the
future of agricultural sectors and theories start evolving on how to
secure a sustainable future for agriculture. Sustainable market
transformations are initiated in which industry leaders work together
in a pre-competitive environment to change market conditions.
Sustainable intensification focuses on facilitating entrepreneurial
farmers. To stimulate farm investment, projects on access to finance
for agriculture are also popping up. One example is the SCOPE
methodology, an assessment tool that measures the management
maturity and professionalism of producer organizations as to give
financing organizations better insights in the risks involved in
financing. Currently agricultural finance is always considered risky
and avoided by financial institutions.
Black market cash crops
In the U.S., cannabis has been termed as a cash crop.
Coca, opium poppies and cannabis are significant black market cash
crops, the prevalence of which varies. In the United States, cannabis
is considered by some to be the most valuable cash crop. In 2006,
it was reported in a study by Jon Gettman, a marijuana policy
researcher, that in contrast to government figures for legal crops
such as corn and wheat and using the study's projections for U.S.
cannabis production at that time, cannabis was cited as "the top cash
crop in 12 states and among the top three cash crops in 30". The
study also estimated cannabis production at the time (in 2006) to be
valued at $35.8 billion USD, which exceeded the combined value of corn
at $23.3 billion and wheat at $7.5 billion.
Agriculture and Agronomy portal
Agricultural value chain
Food vs. fuel
^ a b USDA-Foreign
Agriculture Service. "(Cotton) Production Ranking
MY 2011". National
Cotton Council of America. Retrieved April 3,
^ Van den Bosche, Peter (2005). The Law and Policy of the World Trade
Organization. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 42.
ISBN 978-0-511-12392-4. Dumping, i.e. bringing a product onto the
market of another country at a price less than the normal value of
that product is condemned but not prohibited in WTO law.
^ a b "Medicinal
Arctic herb: Alaska's next (legal) cash crop?".
Alaska Dispatch. February 17, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
^ Ellis, Blake (September 10, 2010). "
Coffee prices on the rise". CNN
Money. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
^ Reeves, James B.; Weihrauch, John L.; Consumer and Food Economics
Institute (1979). Composition of foods: fats and oils. Agriculture
handbook 8-4. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Science and
Education Administration. p. 4. OCLC 5301713.
^ a b c d e f Borders, Max; Burnett, H. Sterling (March 24, 2006).
Farm Subsidies: Devastating the World's Poor and the Environment".
National Center for Policy Analysis. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
^ a b c "Guides: Poverty in Africa – Growing cash crops". BBC. June
9, 2005. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
^ a b c Carrington, Damian; Valentino, Stefano (May 31, 2011).
"Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for
plantations". The Guardian. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
^ a b Timilsina, Govinda R.; Shrestha, Ashish (July 2010). "Biofuels:
Markets, Targets and Impacts" (PDF). The World Bank. Retrieved April
^ Bunting, Madeleine (January 28, 2011). "How land grabs in Africa
could herald a new dystopian age of hunger". The Guardian. Retrieved
April 6, 2012.
^ a b c Staight, Kerry (February 28, 2010). "Humble lentil turns into
cash crop". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 4,
^ Courtney, Pip (February 13, 2000). "Lentils offer farmers a better
cash crop alternative". Australian Broadcasting Corporation
(Landline). Retrieved April 4, 2012.
^ "Ag 101: Demographics". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
September 10, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
^ Creamer, Jamie (February 2, 2011). "Alabama growers reap big savings
with precision ag". Southeast
Farm Press. Retrieved April 3,
^ "Fruit and Nut Crops (California)" (PDF). USDA National Agriculture
Statistics Service. October 28, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
Coconut growers switch crops". Viet Nam News. February 20, 2012.
Retrieved April 7, 2012.
^ Food And
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Economic
And Social Department. Statistics Division. (September 2, 2010).
FAOSTAT – Production – Crops [Selected annual data]. Retrieved
April 14, 2011 from the FAOSTAT Database.
^ Fair Trade International Report from 2013
^ SCOPE methodology
^ a b c d Venkataraman, Nitya (December 18, 2006). "Marijuana Called
Top U.S. Cash Crop". ABC News. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
Ryan, Orla (August 23, 2002). "Aid workers grope for famine causes".
BBC News. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
Olley, Lola (June 29, 2009). "Could This Be Africa's Next Cash Crop?".
Huffington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
Staff (April 3, 2012). "Native plants, herbal supplements could be
cash crops for North Country, SLU prof says". North Country Now.
Retrieved April 3, 2012.
Lonergan, Kerry (November 5, 2008). "Cash Crops". Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
Crop – AWB Scandal (Report)". The Age. Retrieved April 4,
Rowbotham, Jill (July 28, 2010). "High yield expected from cash for
crop research". The Australian. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
Nepru Working paper #80, The Nambian Economic Policy Research Unit.
Hillstrom, Kevin; Hillstrom, Laurie Collier (2003). Australia,
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Look up cash crop in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cash crop.
FAOSTAT – food balance sheets from the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations
Bita, Natasha (February 3, 2010). "Seeing slime as a cash crop". The
Australian. Retrieved Ap