What is Mediterranean Agriculture?

The Mediterranean region has a long history of agriculture, dating back to the early days of human civilization. Today, the Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as one of the healthiest in the world, and Mediterranean agriculture is a key part of that.

But what is Mediterranean agriculture? In a nutshell, it’s a type of agriculture that’s well-adapted to the climate and conditions of the Mediterranean region. This means using practices that conserve water and protect against drought,

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The History of Mediterranean Agriculture

The history of Mediterranean agriculture is a long and varied one, with many different cultures and civilizations contributing to its development over the millennia. From the early days of history, when the first farmers began to cultivate the land, to the present day, when modern techniques and technology are used to produce food for a growing population, the story of Mediterranean agriculture is a fascinating one.

Ancient Times

The first record of agricultural activity in the Mediterranean dates back to the 8th millennium BCE, when early Neolithic settlers planted crops in the Fertile Crescent. This region, which encompasses modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, is thought to be where crops were first domesticated. Wheat and barley were among the first plants to be cultivated in the Fertile Crescent, and olive trees and grapevines were later introduced by Bronze Age settlers from the eastern Mediterranean.

Farming quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean basin as settlers moved into new areas. Around 6500 BCE, farmers in Greece began growing barley and wheat, while those in Sicily started cultivating grapevines. By 4000 BCE, people in North Africa were growing wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils, and by 3000 BCE olive trees had been introduced to Crete.

Agricultural production in the Mediterranean continued to increase during the following centuries as new techniques and crop varieties were developed. The introduction of irrigation systems allowed farming to expand into drier areas, while crop rotation helped to improve soil fertility. Grapes were also grown on an industrial scale in some areas, with wine production becoming an important part of the economy in countries like Greece and Italy.

Today, agriculture remains an important part of life in the Mediterranean region. Although large-scale industrial farming has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, many people still live in rural areas and make their living from agriculture. Common crops include wheat, barley, olives, grapes, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, figs, apricots, almonds, and pistachios.

The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was one of the most influential periods in the history of Mediterranean agriculture. The Romans were master engineers and waterers, and their aqueducts and irrigation systems are still studied and admired today. Roman farmers were also some of the first to practice crop rotation, a agricultural technique that is still in use today. The fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century CE led to a decline in Mediterranean agriculture, but many of the innovations that the Romans introduced were continued by later cultures.

The Middle Ages

The Roman Empire fell in the 5th century AD, which ushered in a period of instability and invasions in the Mediterranean region. Agriculture was greatly impacted by these changes, as peasant farmers were often displaced by invading armies. This led to a decline in agricultural production, as well as a decrease in the number of people engaged in farming.

The Arab conquest of Spain and Portugal in the 8th century AD brought new technologies and crops to the region, which helped to revitalize agriculture. Olive trees and grapevines were introduced, and new irrigation systems were developed. These innovations helped to increase crop yields and improve the quality of life for peasant farmers.

The Crusades (11th-13th centuries AD) had a significant impact on the economy of the Mediterranean region. Trade flourished as crusaders brought back exotic goods from the east, such as spices, silks, and cotton. This increased demand for agricultural products, which spurred growth in the farming sector. New technologies were also introduced, such as windmills and water wheels, which made farm work easier and more efficient.

The Geography of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Basin is a region of land surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The basin is characterized by a warm, dry climate and features a diverse array of soils. The Mediterranean region is one of the world’s major agricultural regions, producing olives, grapes, wheat, and other crops.

The Mediterranean Climate

The climate of the Mediterranean region is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. This is due to the high pressure systems that dominate the area during the summer months, causing a drought-like effect. The sirocco, a dry, dusty wind that blows off the Sahara Desert, also contributes to the hot, dry conditions experienced in Mediterranean countries.

Precipitation in the Mediterranean region is highly variable, depending on location. In general, coastal areas receive more rainfall than inland areas, due to the influence of prevailing winds and oceanic moisture levels. Mountaintops also tend to be wetter than lower lying areas, due to the orographic effect (the lifting of air masses as they move over mountainous terrain).

agricultural production in the Mediterranean region is strongly influenced by climate. The hot, dry summers are ideal for growing crops such as grapes, olives, and other fruits and vegetables that require little water to thrive. In contrast, winter wheat and barley require moist conditions during their growing season in order to produce a good harvest. This variation in crop suitability means that farmers in the Mediterranean region must carefully choose what crops to grow based on the local climate conditions.

The Mediterranean Soil

The soils of the Mediterranean are highly diverse, ranging from very fertile to utterly infertile. In general, the further north you go, the poorer the soils become. This is because the foothills of the Alps and other mountain ranges are composed of relatively young rocks that have not yet had time to break down into rich soils. By contrast, the plains and lowlands further south are composed of ancient rocks that have been weathered and eroded over millions of years, resulting in deep, fertile soils.

There are four main types of Mediterranean soil:

1) sandy soil – This is found in coastal areas and is composed of coarse particles that do not retain water well. As a result, it is not suitable for agriculture except in areas with a reliable source of irrigation water.

2) loamy soil – This is a mix of sand and clay particles and has better water-retention than sandy soil. It is found in many parts of the Mediterranean region and is suitable for agriculture.

3) clay soil – This is composed of fine particles that retain water very well. It can be found in some parts of the Mediterranean region but is not as common as loamy or sandy soil.

4) calcareous soil – This type of soil is rich in calcium carbonate, which makes it very alkaline. It is found in some parts of southern Europe and northern Africa and can be very productive for agriculture if managed correctly.

The Crops of the Mediterranean

The hot, dry summers and warm, wet winters of the Mediterranean make it possible to grow a wide variety of crops. The most common crops grown in the Mediterranean are wheat, barley, olives, grapes, and tomatoes. These crops are well-suited to the climate and soil of the region.


Grain is the seeds of certain grasses that are harvested for food. The three main types of grain crops are wheat, barley, and rye. Other grains include oats, buckwheat, millet, and sorghum. Grain crops are grown in many parts of the world, but the major producing regions are North America, Europe, and Asia.

In the Mediterranean region, wheat is the most important grain crop. It is used to make breads, pastas, and other flour-based foods. Barley is also a major crop in the region. It is used to make beer and whisky. Rye is another common grain crop in the Mediterranean region. It is used to make breads and other baked goods.

Olives and Olive Oil

Olives are the fruit of the olive tree, scientifically known as Olea europaea. This tree is native to the Mediterranean Basin—the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea where countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, and others are located. The olive has been cultivated for its fruit for over 6,000 years and is an important part of Mediterranean culture and cuisine.

Olive trees technically belong to the same family as lilacs, jasmine, and Forsythia plants. They are evergreen trees that can grow up to 20 feet tall. They have leathery green leaves and small white flowers that bloom in the spring. Each tree can live for hundreds of years—some even longer than a thousand years!

All olives start out green but then turn black (or sometimes brown, red, or purple) when they are ripe. Olives that are going to be made into olive oil are usually harvested while they are still green. If they are allowed to fully ripen first, they will be too soft to press into oil.

After olives are picked from the tree, they must go through a process called “curing” before they can be made into oil or eaten. Curing olives helps to reduce their bitterness and makes them more flavorful. It also helps to preserve them so that they can be stored for long periods of time. There are several different ways to cure olives, but the most common method is to soak them in brine (salt water).

Grapes and Wine

Grapes are one of the most important crops in the Mediterranean. They grow well in the region’s warm climate and they are used to make wine, which is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. In addition to wine, grapes are also used to make raisins, vinegar, and grape juice.

There are many different varieties of grapes, and they come in a variety of colors including green, red, and black. The most popular varieties of grapes for wine-making include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

Wine is an important part of Mediterranean culture, and it is typically enjoyed with meals. It is also used in religious ceremonies and is a part of many traditional celebrations.

Fruits and Vegetables

The fruits and vegetables of the Mediterranean are as diverse as the climate and geography of the region. Common fruits include olives, grapes, oranges, lemons, figs, pomegranates, melons and tomatoes. Vegetables include potatoes, beans, peas, zucchini, eggplant, garlic and onion. Most of these crops are considered staples in the Mediterranean diet.

The olive is one of the most emblematic fruits of the Mediterranean. It has been cultivated in the region for thousands of years and is a key ingredient in many popular dishes. The olive tree is also a symbol of peace and prosperity.

Grapes are another important crop in the Mediterranean. They are used to make wine, one of the region’s most famous exports. The climate of the Mediterranean is ideal for grapevines, and there are many different types of grapes grown in the region.

Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are also common in the Mediterranean. The juicy fruits are used to add flavor to dishes or to make refreshing drinks on hot days.

Figs, pomegranates and melons are also popular fruits in the Mediterranean. These sweet fruits are often used in desserts or eaten as a snack.

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables in the Mediterranean diet. They can be used in salads, pastas, pizzas and many other dishes.

Potatoes, beans and peas are common staples in the Mediterranean diet. These filling vegetables can be used to make a variety of hearty dishes.

Zucchini, eggplant and garlic are also commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. These flavorful vegetables add color and flavor to many popular dishes

The Livestock of the Mediterranean

The typical Mediterranean diet is based on the agricultural products that are produced in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The mainstay of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, followed by wheat, grapes, wine, Beans, and vegetables.

Sheep and Goats

The sheep and goats of the Mediterranean are an important part of the region’s agriculture. These animals provide milk, cheese, and meat for the people of the Mediterranean. They also provide wool for clothing and other products.

There are many different types of sheep and goats in the Mediterranean. Some of the most common are the Sardinian sheep, the Maltese goat, and the Syrian goat.

Sardinian Sheep: The Sardinian sheep is a type of sheep that is native to the island of Sardinia. It is a large breed of sheep that can weigh up to 250 pounds. The Sardinian sheep is known for its high-quality wool. The wool of this sheep is used to make clothing, blankets, and other products.

Maltese Goat: The Maltese goat is a type of goat that is native to the island of Malta. It is a small breed of goat that usually weighs between 50 and 60 pounds. The Maltese goat is known for its good-quality milk. The milk of this goat is used to make cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.

Syrian Goat: The Syrian goat is a type of goat that is native to Syria. It is a medium-sized breed of goat that usually weighs between 75 and 100 pounds. The Syrian goat is known for its high-quality milk. The milk of this goat is used to make cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products


Cattle are the most common livestock in the Mediterranean. They are used for their meat, milk, and hides. In some parts of the Mediterranean, their manure is used as fertilizer.

There are two types of cattle in the Mediterranean: draught animals and dairy cows.

Draught animals are used to pull ploughs and carts. They are usually bigger and heavier than dairy cows. The most common draught animals in the Mediterranean are oxen (castrated bulls).

Dairy cows are kept for their milk. In the past, most of the milk was used to make cheese, butter, and yogurt. Nowadays, some of it is drunk fresh or made into other products such as ice cream.


In the Mediterranean, pigs were traditionally allowed to forage in woodlands for acorns, chestnuts, and other mast. This foraging behavior is still found in wild boar populations. However, due to the demand for pork products, many pigs are now confined to factory farms where they are raised on a diet of corn and soy.

Pigs are omnivorous creatures and will eat just about anything, which is why they have been an important source of food for humans throughout history. In the Mediterranean region, pigs were traditionally allowed to forage in woodlands for acorns, chestnuts, and other mast. This foraging behavior is still found in wild boar populations. However, due to the demand for pork products, many pigs are now confined to factory farms where they are raised on a diet of corn and soy.

Pigs are intelligent animals and have been shown to be capable of complex cognitive tasks. They have excellent memories and can learn tasks quickly. Pigs also display a wide range of emotions including happiness, sadness, frustration, boredom, and excitement. Unfortunately, the mental needs of pigs are often not met on factory farms where they are confined to small pens with little or no enrichment.

The welfare of pigs has become an increasingly important issue in recent years as more people learn about the conditions on factory farms. There is growing public concern about the treatment of animals raised for food and an increasing demand for humanely-raised pork products.

The Future of Mediterranean Agriculture

The Mediterranean agricultural sector is one of the most dynamic and constantly evolving industries in the world. In order to ensure its future growth and success, it is important to understand the trends that are shaping it. This section will explore the main trends that are currently affecting Mediterranean agriculture.

The Impact of Climate Change

TheFuture of Mediterranean Agriculture – (What is Mediterranean Agriculture?)

The impact of climate change on Mediterranean agriculture is already being felt by farmers in the region. With rising temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns, crop yields are decreasing, water resources are under stress, and agricultural pests and diseases are becoming more prevalent. In the face of these challenges, farmers are adopting new technologies and management practices to adapt their agriculture to a changing climate.

One such technology is precision agriculture, which uses satellite data and sensors to optimize irrigation and fertilizer use. Farmers are also planting heat-resistant crops, such as sorghum and millet, and investing in early warning systems for extreme weather events. These adaptations will help reduce the impact of climate change on Mediterranean agriculture in the future.

The Impact of Globalization

The globalization of the agricultural sector has had a profound impact on the Mediter-ranean region. In the past, most countries in the region were primarily agricul-tural, but today only a few remain so. The primary reason for this shift is the rise of the global food industry, which has increasingly sourcing its products from large-scale commercial farms in developed countries. This has led to a decline in the relative importance of agriculture in the Mediterranean region, as well as to a decline in the number of people employed in agriculture.

The globalization of agriculture has also had an impact on the types of crops that are grown in the region. In the past, many Mediter-ranean countries were self-sufficient in food production, and grew a variety of crops for both local consumption and export. However, with the rise of the global food industry, there has been a shift towards monoculture – the cultivation of a single crop – as this is more efficient for large-scale commercial production. This has led to a decline in crop diversity in the region, and has made many countries more dependent on imported foods.

The globalization of agriculture is likely to have a number of other impacts on Mediterranean countries in the future. For example, it is likely to contribute to further decline in employment in agriculture, as well as to further declines in crop diversity and self-sufficiency. In addition, it may also lead to an increase in water insecurity, as large-scale commercial farms use significantly more water than small-scale traditional farms.

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