The Albanian economy's traditional mainstay, agriculture generated a third of the country's net material product and employed more than half the work force in 1990. Domestic farm products accounted for 63 percent of household expenditures and 25 percent of exports in that year. While striving for self-sufficiency in the 1970s and 1980s, the Enver Hoxha regime created the world's most strictly controlled and isolated farm sector. But as the government force-fed investment funds to industry at the farm sector's expense, food output fell short of the needs of the rapidly increasing population. The government triggered acute disruptions in food supplies by reducing the size of personal plots, collectivizing livestock, and forbidding peasants to market their produce privately. By the early 1990s, the country's farms were no longer supplying adequate amounts of food to urban areas; they were also failing to meet the needs of Albanian factories for raw materials. The regime responded by stimulating agricultural production through a program of land privatization and free-market measures, cognizant that the success of its broader economic reform program depended heavily on the agricultural sector's ability to feed the population and provide the input-starved production lines with raw materials.
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