A first consequence of the recent rapid demographic development has been the need for massive imports of foodstuffs, for example wheat, up to values fluctuating for several years around 4,000,000 q (mostly from Argentina). But at the same time the best care dedicated to agriculture led to a higher production: in 1958 wheat reached 45,500,000 q (on an area of almost 4,400,000 ha), so that in recent years imports have again went down (to less than 500,000 q per year). Similar progress has also been made for other crops; the production of oranges was in 1958-59, despite the serious damage caused by the frost in the winter of 1956, of 11,000,000 q and the total of citrus fruits exceeded 13,000,000 q, so that the Spain it continues to hold first place also in the world export ranking; the production of potatoes (even if the areas occupied by the crop have been reduced) in recent years have reached values of more than 43,000,000 q; the beet crops of Old Castile, Aragon and western Andalusia have made it possible to reach a production of 4,700,000 q of sugar, which, together with 300,000 q obtained from cane plantations, cover almost all of the national needs. The olive groves, which in 1958 covered 2,000,000 ha, have given in the last decade an average annual production of over 3,000,000 q of oil (even reaching just under 7,000,000 q in 1951); these are always the highest values in world production, but exports have greatly decreased (200. 000 q as an annual average of 1957-58), due to higher domestic consumption. The vineyards (1,317,821 ha of specialized crops, as well as 1,577,000 ha of intercalated crops, and – in any case – taking into account only the vineyards in production) have provided an average income between 17 and 21,000,000 hl of wines. The cultivation of cotton, of relatively recent introduction, has risen to an average of 750,000 q. And similar observations could be repeated for many others, indeed for almost all agricultural products. relatively recent introduction, it has risen to an average of 750,000 q. And similar observations could be repeated for many others, indeed for almost all agricultural products. relatively recent introduction, it has risen to an average of 750,000 q. And similar observations could be repeated for many others, indeed for almost all agricultural products.
According to smber, the progress of the Spanish agricultural economy benefits primarily from the acquisition of new lands for cultivation; a first batch of colonization works, almost completed in 1955, involved just under 400,000 ha of land (of which 200,000 came from the spin-off of large estates), where over 100 new villages were created. Other transformation works are underway, for almost 1,000,000 ha of land, of which 650,000 will have to be irrigated, while a third subsequent program that will affect 750,000 ha is being prepared. In fact, the clearing work is combined with a massive effort to increase the irrigation possibilities; from 1948 to 1956 almost 400,000 ha benefited, while from 1951 to 1956 irrigation availability increased by about 40% (today exceeding 14,000.), thanks to the construction of numerous barrages on almost all the major rivers of the “meseta”. Today the irrigated area is 1,633,000 ha, of which 316,000 are occupied by tree crops (including olive groves in Andalusia, vineyards elsewhere); the execution of the recent works has removed, in terms of irrigated area, the traditional primacy in the Levant, in favor of the provinces of the “meseta” (in that of Lérida 137,000 ha, that of Zaragoza 127,000, that of Valenza 126,000). Moreover, the further works planned in the Douro basin will make another 325,000 hectares irrigable. The third factor in the progress of Spanish agriculture is its mechanization: from 4300 tractors existing in 1940 to 30,000 in 1956. Finally, there is the growing use of chemical fertilizers (the
Overall in 1956 only 10% of the territory remained unproductive; of the 45,000,000 hectares of production, 24,500,000 were covered by woods and other spontaneous plant associations; approximately 20,500,000 ha therefore constitute the cultivated area. The agricultural-forestry income still represents 45% of the national income; in the agricultural year 1957-58 it was 172,899 million “pesetas”, of which 52,714 million consumed directly by producers (take into account the fact that – as the rural population has decreased – its standard of living has improved more significantly than does not indicate the increase in consumption). The largest part naturally comes from agriculture: 107,000 million, compared to 8,500 million that come from forests and 56,500 million from farming.
Breeding and fishing. – The breeding of livestock, in addition to the traditional income in meat and wool (for the latter 400,000 q has been reached), gives an ever increasing production of milk (almost 34,000,000 hl in 1957); on the whole, however, the consistency of the livestock population appears to have increased only for pigs. Finally, sericulture is also under development (which produced over 600,000 kg of cocoons).
Income from fishing activities has also increased; in 1958 46,000 boats with nearly 300,000 fishermen insured 8,000,000 q of fish products, coming especially from Galicia (2,620,000 q), Atlantic Andalusia and the Cantabrian region (almost 2,000,000 q for each). The processing carried out in the 350 factories in operation involved more than 1,100,000 q of fish.