Chad's landlocked position, poor transportation network, inadequate natural resources, and ongoing political turmoil have severely hampered economic development. The economy is based primarily on sedentary subsistence agriculture and nomadic pastoralism, employing 80% of the workforce but contributing only about 32% of the GDP. The best farming zone is in the south, where rainfall is sufficient for the cultivation of cotton and peanuts (the country's leading cash crops) for export and some subsistence crops, including sorghum, millet, rice, potatoes, and manioc. Cattle, sheep, goats, and camels are raised, and there is fishing in Lake Chad. During drought periods, Chad requires food aid to meet necessary levels.
Natron and uranium are the country's chief minerals, and petroleum is produced in the southern Doba basin, which is connected by pipeline with the Cameroonian port of Kribi. Industry is limited to food processing and the production of textiles and light consumer goods. Imports—largely machinery, transportation equipment, industrial goods, foodstuffs, and textiles—generally outweigh exports, mainly cotton, cattle, gum arabic, and oil. Chad's chief trading partners are the United States, France, Cameroon, and China.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.