Country Listing

Portugal Table of Contents


Crops and Livestock

In 1990 wheat was the leading Portuguese grain crop, followed by corn, which was grown mainly on the small farms of the north. Rice, although occupying less than one-tenth of the area of either wheat or corn, was a significant grain crop. Potatoes and corn silage were found throughout the north.

Portugal's leading edible tree crop was olive oil. In spite of the importance of olive oil for the economy and the increasing production of other edible oilseeds, such as safflower and sunflower, Portugal was a net importer of vegetable fats and oils. The country produced a variety of horticultural crops, some of which were exported. As an example, Portugal was a leading world exporter of tomato paste.

In the mid-1980s, over 300,000 hectares were in vineyards, and Portugal was one of Western Europe's major producers and exporters of wines. The most important vineyards were located in the northern valleys of the Rio Douro, Rio Mondego, and Rio Lima, but vineyards were also found in the Algarve and the Setúbal Peninsula. Portugal's dessert wines--port and muscatel--and rosé wines, notably Mateus, were well known abroad. Portuguese red and white table wines were less well known outside of the country, but their export and reputation were gradually increasing.

Crop yields, as noted above, and animal productivity remained well below those of Portugal's European counterparts as of the early 1990s. Yields of dryland crops and pastures were low by EC standards, but yields on irrigated land and in the alluvial soil areas of the Ribatejo were comparable with EC member countries. Portuguese grain-crop yields (kilograms per hectare) were less than a third of those in (Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and France and about 60 percent of those in Greece (see table 7, Appendix). Portugal's wheat, corn, and barley yields compared unfavorably with its European counterparts. Portuguese rice, grown on irrigated land, showed yields only about 14 percent below those of France and about 25 percent below those of Spain and Greece.

Although pastureland was scarce, livestock constituted a significant share of total agricultural production. Because of growing domestic demand for animal products and low livestock productivity, Portugal had to import about 10 percent of its meat requirements. Three-fourths of the mainland's milk was produced in the northwest's coastal areas.

The mainland's livestock numbers in 1987 included over 1.3 million head of cattle, over 5 million sheep, nearly 3 million pigs, and 745,000 goats. About 18 million chickens supplied the country's poultry industry that year.

Data as of January 1993