What are the Characteristics of Mediterranean Agriculture?

i. Mediterranean agriculture is the most popular of all types of agriculture. It derives its name from the Mediterranean region of Europe where the agriculture characteristics are representative.

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ii. The Mediterranean environment and the integrated use of the contrasting microenvironments have fostered the development of four distinct, yet interrelated, agricultural systems of crop production and livestock husbandry.

These are the: growing of cereals and vegetables with the aid of seasonal precipitation; cultivation of planted crops of olives, figs, dates and grapes which ripen in autumn (fall) without artificial watering; raising of widely distributed summer crops of fruits, vegetables and forage plants by irrigation; and livestock farming, mainly small animals which graze on highlands in winter and on lowlands in summer.


iii. The most common feature of Mediterranean agriculture is that both subsistence and cash crops figure in the economy of each of its regions.

iv. The relative emphasis on the production of several agricultural commodities both the commercial and subsistence farming, varies with rainfall. The nature of cultivation is both intensive and extensive.

v. A combination of local physical and cultural characteristics determines which crops will be grown in which Mediterranean farming areas.

vi. In the bordering areas of Mediterranean Sea, the two most important cash crops are olives and grapes.


Two-thirds of the world’s wine is produced in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea especially Italy, France and Spain Greece specialize in producing raisins and wine and Spain in oranges, olive oil and wine. Mediterranean regions elsewhere produce the remaining one-third.

vii. Olives and grapes are the most important sources of income of commercial farms bordering the Mediterranean Sea; approximately half of the land is devoted to growing cereals, especially wheat.

viii. In acreage, cereal crops are the most important in Mediterranean agriculture. Wheat, especially hard winter wheat is the principal food grain, and barley is grown in the poorer areas.

ix. The nature of cultivation is both intensive and extensive.


x. Livestock production is hindered by the lack of water and good grazing land during the summer. Some farmers living along the Mediterranean Sea traditionally used transhumance to raise animals, although the practice is now less common.


i. Mediterranean agriculture exists primarily in the lands that border the Mediterranean Sea in southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.

ii. Farmers in California, Central Chile and the southwestern part of South Africa and Australia practice Mediterranean agriculture as well.

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