Monday, November 2, 2009

MEDITERRANEAN AGRICULTURE

MEDITERRANEAN AGRICULTURE The Mediterranean climatic region which experiences winter rain and summer d~ought has given rise to a distinctive type of agriculture. This type of farming is also found in irrigated semi-desert and desert areas in similar latitudes. Farming is intensive and highly specialised. A variety of crops are raised.

Citrus fruits, olives and figs, with long, widespread roots, scant foliage and thick skinned fruits are best adapted to the Mediterranean type of climate. Dates are prominent in semi-arid region in North Africa and in scattered areas in south-west Europe, where cultivation of other crops is not viable.

Viticulture or grape cultivation is typical of the Medi­terranean regions. It calls for a highly intensive form of farming. Not only good conditions of moisture, tempera­ture and soil are required, but much personal care is also called for, if the grapes are to be of high quality. Grapes grown in different parts of the Mediterranean lands have distinctive flavours, and the wines made in the various areas have their exclusive names, e.g., sherry from the Andalusia district in southern Spain, port wine from the Douro Basin in western Portugal, Marsala from Sicily, Chianti from the Chianti Hills of Tuscany, Asti from the Piedmont district of northern Italy. In France, wine-making is a national industry even though much of the country does not. enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Here there is even more distinct specialisation: the sparkling Champagne comes from the Paris basin; Burgundy from the limestone scarplands of the Cote d'Or; Claret, Brandy (Cognac), Barsac and Bordeaux from different parts of western France, especially the basin of Aquitaine. Raisins or currants are inferior grapes which have been dried. Greece, Turkey and California are the major exporters of raisins. Inciden­tally, California accounts for four-fifths of all the grapes grown in the United States. It supplies mainly table grapes and raisins.

Animal grazing is not widely prevalent. as grass, with its shallow roots, does not flourish in these regions. It is only in the most favoured areas, e.g., the Lombardy Plain. Ebro Basin, San Joaquin Valley of California, that dairy farming is important. The relative unimportance of animal farming and the importance of olive cultivation is evident in the large use of olive oil for cooking rather than animal fat.

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