Although agriculture is the main occupation of the Portuguese people (50% of the residents are dedicated to it), yet this still does not occupy the place it should have; this is due both to the climatic conditions (rainfall in general abundant, but unevenly distributed), and to the nature of the soil (where the Paleozoic formations prevail there are soils of mediocre fertility), and to the rather antiquated agricultural means, and finally inadequate distribution of the property. In the regions of Entre Douro and Minho and the Algarve, where the property is very fragmented, the crops of cereals, vines and fruit trees are very intense, while in Beira Bassa and in Alemtejo, where the extension of large estates is still considerable, the soils are far from giving maximum yield.
Among the cereals, maize, which is grown mainly in north-western Portugal, occupies an area of 3762 sq km. (1932) with an average production (1930-32) of 4,077,430 q. and a yield per ha. of 9.4 q. (1932). Wheat, oats and barley are grown in every part of Portugal, both isolated and associated with the cultivation of olives, fruit trees, almond trees and sometimes even vines. According to data from 1930, concerning the wheat harvest, Alemtejo gave 57.4% of the total harvest, Extremadura 29.8%, Beira 5.1%, Algarve 3.3 %, Traz os Montes 3.1% and the Entre Douro and Minho region only 1.3%.
According to smber, the area devoted to the cultivation of wheat (1932, 5918 sq. Km.) Gave an average production of 2.752.729 q. in the years 1924-28 and of 4.134.326 q. in the years 1930-32, with a yield per hectare. (1932) of 8.6 q. The average production of barley (1930-1932) was 465,495 q., That of oats 989,487 q. The cultivation of rye (average production 1930-32, 1.247.871 q.) Is instead restricted to the dry and poor plateaus, where the property has remained and still remains undivided. Rice, which is grown in the alluvial plains near the coasts (Aveiro lagoon) and along the valleys of the great rivers, Vouga, Mondego, Tago, Sorraia, Sado, occupies an area of 113 sq. Km., With a production of 254,662 q. . (1931-33).
The cultivation of the vine, although the territory dedicated to it (1932, 3500 sq. Km.) Is rather limited, also occupies a very important place in the Portuguese economy. The vineyards of Paiz do Vinho are very famous, where the vines are grown on terraces, on bare slopes without trees, in full sun, and those of the Minho region, where the vine is instead attached to trees (willows, poplars, etc.). The vine reaches its maximum altimetric limits in the Traz os Montes, (800-900 m.) And in the Serra Guardunha (1100 m.). The average production of wine, in the five-year period 1924-28, amounted to 5,651,776 hl. and in the three-year period 1930-32 to 6,438,329 hl. with a yield per ha. of 17.5 hl. (1932). Of the annual wine production 52% goes to common table wines, 26% to “vinhos verdes”
The olive tree is also of considerable importance in Portugal; the main production centers are the upper Douro, the surroundings of Coimbra and Guarda, the right bank of the Tagus, and especially the surroundings of Leiria and Torres Novas where limestone predominates, southern Beira and the region beyond beyond the Guadiana (Moura). The average production of oil, which is largely used for the fish preservation industry, amounted in the five-year period 1924-28 to 400,496 q. and in the three-year period 1931-33 to 402.914 q. The production of fruit, which is of excellent quality, is also quite profitable; the oranges of Duero, Coimbra and Setúbal deserve to be mentioned.
The Algarve, which can truly be considered the land of the first fruits, produces excellent products; about 3 / 4 of algarvica plains are planted with fruit trees.
The forests in Portugal occupy a little less than a third of the territory of the state (23,350 sq km); among the Conifers the pine prevails (12.7%), among the Hardwoods the oak (1.2%), the holm oak (4.3%), the cork and the Turkey oak (6.4%), the chestnut (0.9%); the rest (0.8%) is occupied by mixed forests.
The corks, which are widespread, thrive wonderfully on shale and granite soils, as well as on the tertiary sands of southern Portugal. In southern Portugal we can distinguish 5 main districts of cork production: 1. the high Sor and the territory of Seda around Crato; 2. the area between the Tagus and the Muge; 3. the high basin of Sorraia; 4. the territory east of the mouth of the Sado; 5. the greenhouses of Grândola and Cercal. Portugal is the first cork producing country and production in 1925 amounted to 56,534 tons, in 1931 to 74,288 tons; most of the cork is exported in its natural state.
Farm. – The area intended for meadows and pastures amounts to 25,000 sq km. that is, to 28.1% of the total area. The cattle, which are raised mainly in the coastal plains between the Minho and the Mondego and in the alluvial plains formed by the rivers, amounted in 1925 to 852,681 head; among the main breeds of cattle, the “raça barrosa” which is the most prized in Portugal deserves to be mentioned. The breeding of sheep and goats is much more widespread; sheep (1925, 3,720,976) and goats (1925, 1,580,336) are raised in the mountainous regions of northern and central Portugal (Traz os Montes, Serra da Estrella, Serra de Caramulo, Serra de Montemuro, etc.) as even in the less intense cultivation regions (Alemteio). The breeding of mules (1925, 90.070) and donkeys (1926, 243.702), as it happens in all southern European countries, it has much greater importance than that of horses (1926, 83,887). Mules and donkeys also live in the mountainous regions of Portugal and are used as pack animals and mounts. The breeding of pigs (1925, 1.162.716) is also worth mentioning, a breeding that is practiced mostly in the Alemtejo, where holm oaks, corks, oaks are widespread, the fruits of which are used as nourishment for these beasts. The production of milk and dairy products is minimal and insufficient, like that of meat, for the needs of the population. they in the mountainous regions of Portugal and are used as beasts of burden and mount. The breeding of pigs (1925, 1.162.716) is also worth mentioning, a breeding that is practiced mostly in the Alemtejo, where holm oaks, corks, oaks are widespread, the fruits of which are used as nourishment for these beasts. The production of milk and dairy products is minimal and insufficient, like that of meat, for the needs of the population. they in the mountainous regions of Portugal and are used as beasts of burden and mount. The breeding of pigs (1925, 1.162.716) is also worth mentioning, a breeding that is practiced mostly in the Alemtejo, where holm oaks, corks, oaks are widespread, the fruits of which are used as nourishment for these beasts. The production of milk and dairy products is minimal and insufficient, like that of meat, for the needs of the population.
Fishing. – Fishing is of considerable importance and a large part of the coastal population is dedicated to it; in 1932 54,175 men with 14,293 boats were employed in fishing (average tonnage of 55,598 tons). Sardine fishing (1a32, 111.916 tons for a value of 69.010.284 escudos) is practiced very actively in the section of coast between the mouth of the Minho and Nazaré; that of tuna, on the other hand, which dates back to very ancient times (even the Arabs dedicated themselves to this fishing), is done exclusively on the coasts of the Algarve, from May to September. In 1932, 30,909 tuna were caught for a value of 7,615,497 escudos. Finally, cod (1932, 4597 tons for a value of 10,189,121 escudos), is caught mainly in the coastal area between the mouth of the Minho and Nazaré from June to October.