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A brief history
The first references to the existence of agricultural censuses ("cultivated land") in the world dating back thousands of years before Christ, in ancient China.
In modern times, we find the first reference to an exhaustive "survey", with systematic and organized statistical data on Portuguese agriculture, with the "General enrolment of Livestock and Poultry", which dates back to 1934. These inventories repeated in 1940 and 1972.
During this period, the following statistical operations have taken place:
Based on agricultural censuses is possible to analyze the evolution of this activity over time.
Portuguese agriculture has undergone significant and profound changes throughout the twentieth century. From the 50's, the rural population began a mass migration from countryside to cities in search of a better life. Agricultural work, hard and badly paid, could not compete with a booming industry that offered a new perspective of life.
Between 1965/68 and 1999, the Portuguese agriculture has lost almost half of its permanent labour force.
The number of agricultural holdings and utilized agricultural area was drastically reduced.
Moreover, the average size of agricultural holdings increased to nearly twice: from about 5 hectares to over 9 hectares.
The number of tractors in the holdings almost tenfold between 1965/68 (just over 17 000) and 1999 (nearly 170,000).
Land Use has also changed over time: the arable land, which in 1965/68 accounted for 77% of utilized agricultural area (UAA), in 1999 represents only 46%. Moreover, the surface occupied by permanent grassland increased more than 5 times in the same period of time, from 7% to 36% of UAA.
The livestock species grown, with the exception of horses, especially the donkeys that because they are widely used as work animals, lost much of importance that had in the first decades of the twentieth century.