Paraguay Economic Conditions
Agriculture. – Paraguay is essentially an agricultural and pastoral country. The soil is largely made up of reddish earth, called colorada, sandy and ferruginous, the result of the decomposition of the sandstones, very favorable to crops. The climate is also favorable: an obstacle, however, to the development of agriculture is the lack of communication routes, which facilitate the transport of products to markets. Only in very recent times has the use of modern agricultural machines and tools spread, which have allowed a slow transformation of cultivation methods. In the Botanical Garden of Trinidad, near the capital, there is an experimental agricultural station.
According to Mcat-Test-Centers.com, the most important crop today is that of cotton, to which the country owes much of its recent prosperity. It was already cultivated by the Jesuits and its cultivation had a strong impulse during the government of the presidents of France and Garlos Antonio López. Favored by the soil and the climate, it can give a high average yield per hectare: according to experiences made by Moisés Bertoni, an average of 625 kg could be harvested in central Paraguay. of cotton per hectare, and in the upper Paraná region, 800 kg., with a maximum of over 1000. In an agricultural district of Chaco, an average of 1200 kg was obtained over a period of 6 years. per hectare. In addition to imported cotton varieties (North American, Indian, Egyptian), there is an indigenous one that produces for 10-12 years. L’ area planted with cotton is 11-12 thousand hectares (810 hectares in 1920) and annually yields about 40,000 q. of product, almost totally exported.
Another noteworthy crop is that of tobacco, which has lost ground compared to that of cotton. Introduced in the early years of the century. XVIII, has spread throughout the country, but the most favorable region is the one located east of Asunción, called the Cordillera, where the plant finds particularly good soil and climate conditions. The cultivation methods are still the ancient ones, almost primitive, but the product is good and in part is used for the local manufacture of cigars and cigarettes, in part it is exported. The Oficina revisadora de tabaco and mercado de frutos classifies tobacco for export. In 1932 the area cultivated with tobacco was 8450 hectares (6700 in 1914, 13.350 in 1923) and gave a product of 141.420 q., Which about half was exported, and half consumed in the country.
Sugar cane, grown on approximately 9,800 hectares (5000 in 1914, 5900 in 1920) produced a product of 70,000 quintals of sugar in 1932-33 (10 factories, the most important of which is located in Tebicuary).
Other notable products of Paraguayan agriculture are corn, wheat, rice, bananas, cassava, yams, peanuts, oranges and mandarins. Corn, grown on 40-45 thousand hectares, annually yields between 700,000 and 1 million quintals of product. Wheat was successfully grown in Jesuit missions and its cultivation was also encouraged by the Paraguayan government. Then it decayed, little by little, and only from 1924 did it return to have a certain importance. In any case, Paraguay has to import grain and flour from Argentina extensively. Rice cultivation has great potential for development, especially in the southern part of the republic and in the low watery areas of the central region. The largest rice fields are found in the lowlands between the Paraguay River and the central railway. In 1932 the total production was only 35,000 quintals. The subtropical climate naturally favors the production of fruits, such as bananas, pineapples, oranges and mandarins. Banana and pineapple are grown in various parts of the country, but the slow pace of transport on the Paraguay River does not allow the export of the product, which is of excellent quality. Exported, on the other hand, are oranges and mandarins, grown mainly along rivers and along the central railway; consumption in the country is strong, however in 1932 62.4 million oranges and 11.7 million mandarins were exported. From the leaves of the strong orange, which is found in the wild all over the country, the so-called essence of petit – grain, used in perfumery and exported especially to France and Germany.
Produced partly from plantations (yerbales) and partly taken from forests, it is mate (or tea from Paraguay), for the production of which Paraguay ranks first in the world. The mate is made up of the leaves, properly prepared, of the Yerba maie (Ilex paraguariensis), an indigenous tree of the country and very widespread in it (as it is also in the finitime regions of Brazil and Argentina). The export is considerable (68,430 q. In 1931) and especially directed to Argentina, where the drink is widespread and the national production is not sufficient for the country’s demand.
Another very important forest product for the Paraguayan economy is quebracho, one of the hardest and heaviest woods known, particularly suitable for the construction of railway sleepers. Its importance, however, lies above all in the fact that it contains high quantities of tannin; quebracho extract, one of the best and cheapest tanning agents, is widely produced and exported. The first South American plant for the manufacture of quebracho extract was established in Puerto Gafileo in 1889, and since then this industry has made enormous strides, also thanks to the intervention of large foreign capital.
Forest exploitation is very old and was first practiced on the banks of the Sebicuary, where many of the boats for river navigation were built.
Livestock breeding. – Livestock farming is currently Paraguay’s main resource; it began in 1546; year in which a bull and seven cows from Brazil were brought into the country. At the end of the century XVIII according to Felix de Azara the province already possessed 3 million head of cattle, but after the war against Argentina and Brazil the republic’s livestock was destroyed, and cattle had to be imported from Corrientes and Brazil; around 1930 it was estimated that the country possessed nearly 4 million cattle, 500,000 horses, 600,000 sheep, 100,000 goats and 90,000 pigs.
Pastures abound and livestock farming may have a strong increase especially in Chaco, northern Paraguay and the so-called Misiones, which include SW Paraguay. Here the pastures of the low lands are very rich and tender, and since they are not subject to the damage of frosts and drought, they are used throughout the year; the herds of the higher areas come down there for the winter. The pastures of northern Paraguay, north of the Río Ipané, are tougher than those of the Misiones, but the cattle that live on them give better quality meat. The greatest development possibilities for Paraguayan breeding are also offered by the Chaco, covered by tall grasses which constitute an excellent pasture. However, some areas have the disadvantage of being subject to severe floods, such as those of 1904 and 1919, during which considerable quantities of livestock drowned.
The main problem of breeding is to eliminate the type of bovine called criollo (Creole), which gives little meat, which is very hard, and which has a bony body, with horns and disproportionate legs. For this purpose, crossbreeding experiments have been made with various imported cattle breeds, especially Hereford and Durham. In the past century, the Paraguayan estancieros imported many zebus from Brazil, but the advantage they have of resisting epidemic diseases more than other cattle breeds is not compensated by the disadvantage of having very hard meat and being not very domestic, always willing, indeed, to return. in the wild. The efforts of the breeders are also aimed at the elimination of the livestock with the characteristics of the zebu.
Mineral resources. – They are not lacking, but they are little exploited. The Quiquió and Ibicuy manganese deposits appear to consist of 60 million tons of ore, which contains over 63% manganese. Also noteworthy are the iron (Ibicuy) and copper (San Miguel, Quiquio) deposits.