Portugal Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Portugal Facts

Portugal is a well-known wine-producing country with a pleasant climate all year round.
Capital: Lisbon
Official language:
Currency: Euro
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Climate: Lisbon’s climate is mild throughout the year, hot in summer and cooler in the winter months. It is wetter in winter, but on average Lisbon is one of the sunniest cities in Europe.

Porto’s climate is Mediterranean with a hot climate in summer, but in winter the Atlantic Ocean gives drops to the city. The most favorable travel time here is hot summer time, early autumn and late spring.

Agriculture and fishing

The importance of agriculture to the national economy has steadily declined. In the 1960s, agriculture accounted for a quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP). In 2013, agriculture’s share of GDP had fallen to just over two percent. But agriculture is still an important source of income for residents and employs about a tenth of the labor force, an unusually high proportion for an EU country.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Portugal. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Almost 40 percent of the land area is used for agriculture, including wine, fruit and olive cultivation. Despite extensive EU support, Portuguese agriculture has major problems. Modernization has been slow and productivity is low. The farms are too small and the average age of the farmers is too high. The soil is nutrient poor in many places and the precipitation is uneven. The number of farms has decreased and older farmers are encouraged to retire early.

Large quantities of food have to be imported, but Portugal is self-sufficient in fruits, vegetables, olives, pork and lamb. The production of wine, and in particular port wine, is significant (although the world demand for port wine has decreased in recent years). The largest vineyards are located along the rivers Douro, Mondego and Lima. For Portugal defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.

In northern Portugal most of the farms are small and the farmers mainly grow for their own needs. On the large, mechanized farms found there are grown wheat, grapes and other fruits, potatoes, olives, tomatoes and corn. In the middle parts of the country the farms are larger and produce mainly wheat, barley and rice. On Alentejo’s plains in the south, large landowners used to age-old farming. After the 1974 revolution many collectives were formed, but now most of the farms have returned to the old owners. On these large so-called latifundos, wheat is mainly grown. New opportunities were opened to agriculture in the south when a comprehensive irrigation system with Europe’s largest water reservoir, Alqueva, was ready in 2002.

Livestock management is an important industry locally, especially in the arid mountainous regions of eastern Portugal. About a tenth of the land area is used as pasture.

Well over a third of Portugal is covered by forest. The most common tree species are pine, eucalyptus and cork oak. The country is one of the world’s leading exporters of natural cork. Pulp and wood products are also produced and exported. Forest fires are common and pose a growing threat to the forest industry.

Portugal has one of the EU’s larger fishing fleets (though mainly consisting of smaller boats), but the fishing industry is in crisis, partly because of increased international competition. As in the rest of the EU, overfishing is a major problem. Catches have almost halved since the 1970s and now only a fraction of the workforce is engaged in fishing.

In Lisbon, Setúbal, Matosinhos and Portimão there are large fishing ports. For export, sardines, octopus and tuna are mainly fished. Fish farming has increased in importance but is still a small business.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

2.0 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

39.5 percent (2016)

  • Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of PRT stands for the state of Portugal in geography.


“Not the government’s accomplice”

Socialist Party leader António José Seguro rejects a government proposal on how much government spending should be limited until 2017. The purpose was to reduce the state’s borrowing costs when Portugal begins to borrow money in the open market. Seguro says, according to the Financial Times, he does not want to be the government’s accomplice when it comes to lowering pensions and salaries of civil servants.


Former PSD politicians get jailed

At the end of the month, a previously high-ranking person in the PSD is sentenced to ten years in prison for fraud.

Former Prime Minister Sócrates is arrested

There is a great stir in Portugal when former Prime Minister José Sócrates is arrested by police in connection with a corruption investigation. It concerns suspicions of money laundering and tax fraud, but Sócrates denies that he has committed any crime. The police investigation is confidential and it is unclear as to the period Sócrates was prime minister. The arrest of Sócrates creates problems for the Socialist Party’s current leader Costa, who has been a member of his governments.

The Minister of the Interior resigns

The scandal surrounding the “golden visa” leads to the resignation of Interior Minister Miguel Macedo, but he also stresses that he has not been involved in the deal. However, a company in which Macedo has interests has, according to newspaper information, figured in the investigation.

Scandal about “golden visa”

Police are arresting eleven people, including the head of the Portuguese Immigration Office, on suspicion of corruption, bribery and money laundering. This is linked to the “golden visas” granted to foreign nationals who have invested in Portugal, most of them from China, since 2012. These visas, which also give the holder the right to travel throughout the EU, should have made investments to one billion euros. To obtain such a visa, a family must purchase a property for at least half a million euros. The family is then entitled to settle in Portugal for five years.

New leader of the Socialist Party

Lisbon’s mayor António Costa is elected new leader of the Socialist Party.


Green light for some wage cuts

The Constitutional Court has new objections to the government’s policy of defrauding. This time, the court opposes a proposed tax of two to three percent on pensions. However, the Court is giving a green light for pay cuts for civil servants who earn more than EUR 1500 a month but say the reduction may apply for a maximum of one year.


Reduced salary for civil servants

Parliament is voting for a reduction in the salaries of civil servants. The reduction is smaller than that proposed in the budget and criticized by the Constitutional Court (see May 2014). According to the proposal now adopted, those earning more than EUR 1,500 a month should receive a salary deduction of between 3.5 and 10 percent. The country’s largest trade union is protesting the decision by a demonstration outside Parliament.


The Constitutional Court rejects a number of cuts

Several of the cuts made by the government in the 2014 budget are rejected by the court. This applies to announced salary reductions of EUR 650 for civil servants, special contributions on unemployment benefit and sickness benefits and a sharp reduction in the widow’s pension. This is the sixth time the court has criticized the government’s austerity policy.

The Socialist Party is the biggest in the EU elections

In the Portuguese elections to the European Parliament on May 25, the Socialist Party will be the largest with 31.5 percent of the vote and receive 8 of Portugal’s 21 seats. The governing parties PSD and CDS-PP, which entered into an Alliance Alliance (Alliance Portugal), receive 28 percent and 7 seats. An alliance between the Communist Party and the Greens, called the United Democratic Coalition and wants Portugal to leave the euro zone, gets 13 percent and 3 seats. The small Earth Party (Partido da Terra), which runs environmental and agricultural issues, receives 7 percent of the vote and 2 seats. A mandate goes to the Left Bloc, which wins 4.6 percent of the vote. The turnout is low, 34 percent.

“No new emergency loans needed”

Prime Minister Passos Coelho says at the beginning of the month that Portugal will not need any new EU or IMF emergency loans. However, the economy remains fragile and GDP fell by 0.7 percent during the first quarter of the year. Government debt equals 129 percent of GDP.


Increased exports, growing tourism

At the beginning of the year, figures suggest that the economy is slowly recovering, largely due to increased exports and a rise in the tourism industry. Among other things, exports of shoes increased by 8 percent in 2013. Domestic demand also appears to be growing.


“Not the government’s accomplice”

Socialist Party leader António José Seguro rejects a government proposal on how much government spending should be limited until 2017. The purpose was to reduce the state’s borrowing costs when Portugal begins to borrow money in the open market. Seguro says, according to the Financial Times, he does not want to be the government’s accomplice when it comes to lowering pensions and salaries of civil servants.

Portugal Agriculture and Fishing