From the descriptions that date back to the century. XVI shows that from the first period of colonization corn, millet, mandioca, yam, cocoa, banana, tobacco and cotton were known to the natives. Wheat was not known, as well as the hypothesis that sugar cane was already known there, is far from being demonstrated, even if we can argue around the time of its introduction on the soil of Brazil, which certainly dates back to the early days of colonization. The introduction of coffee is rather late (1727), which finds its most favorable environment in the states of San Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Geraes, Espirito Santo and Bahia.
About half of the actual agricultural area, surveyed in 1920, is cultivated with cereals. The annual production value of maize (the main agricultural product after coffee) approaches one fifth of the annual value of total agricultural production.
According to top-medical-schools, widespread in almost all states is the cultivation of rice (about 1/10 of agricultural production) which thrives particularly in the coastal area of S. Paolo, while that of wheat is equivalent to just over 1/100, despite having a greater extension to 70 thousand ha. in Rio Grande do Sul. In this state, as in those of Minas Geraes, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, the cultivation of vines is increasingly expanding: in the same states and in various others, the production of fresh fruit can be said to increase, the export of which is it more than doubled from 1913 to 1926 (68,000 tons).
Coffee is the great export product and its place is paramount in the economic life of Brazil. It is cultivated, it can be said, in every region of the country, but it has its favorite habitat in the states of São Paulo, Minas Geraes, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. In fact, the area planted with coffee, which reaches almost 2,500,000 hectares, one million belongs to S. Paolo, 400,000 hectares. in Minas, 250,000 in Rio de Janeiro and 150,000 ha. ad Espirito Santo: thus of the two billion and more “feet of coffee” calculated for the whole of Brazil, more than half grow in S. Paolo, and a fifth in Minas Geraes. The production, due to the Coffea arabica, corresponds on average to about 7/10 of world production: the average of the agricultural years ranging from 1920-21 to 1924-25 was in Brazil of 781,320 tons (ie 13 million bags of 60 kg.). The cultivation of this plant, imported into Brazil from Guiana (1727), finds particularly favorable conditions in the areas between the isotherms of 15 ° and 25 °, with an atmospheric precipitation oscillating between 2200 and 3300 millimeters. The average production for each tree is estimated at 800-1200 grams; but sometimes it is more than doubled reaching values of 2000-2500 grams per tree (see coffee). The production of cocoa, which finds particularly favorable conditions in the southern part of Bahia, gives Brazil the second place in world production. The sterculiacea, with pod-shaped fruits (Theobroma cacao), originally from America was called by the Indians “cacavaquahitl”, due to the name of “cacahatl” to the seeds and that of “chocoatl” (sparkling water) to the drink. In the state of Bahia, production is supplied by the coastal areas of Ilheos and Cannavieiras-Belmonte; each hectare can supply from 500 to 1200 kg. The cultivation of cocoa, given the continuous increase in world consumption, is spreading not only in Bahia but also in Espirito Santo. In 1928, Brazilian production was over 70,000 tons.
Even sugar cane, which is believed to originate in India, still finds a typical production area on Brazilian soil. And if this product no longer has the importance of the past for the world market, Brazil still represents large areas of world production, coming for the production of Saccharum officinarum., after Cuba, the Indies, Java and Hawaii, but significantly surpassing the Mascarenas, the Philippines, NE Australia, Formosa, Puerto Rico, etc. Much of the cultivation is still done with backward methods, without selecting the most suitable varieties and the production barely reaches the average of 50 tons. cane per hectare. Now, on the initiative of the state of Pernambuco, which is one of the largest producers and has the best modernly equipped sugar refineries, a sugar defense institute that will have to work to revive this branch of the national economy. According to the calculations of the Ministry of Agriculture, sugar production is around 600 thousand tons. annual, but the export which reached the maximum of 250 thousand tons. in 1922 it was just 27 thousand tons. annually in the five-year period 1924-1928.
As for tobacco, which is considered to originate in America, it is grown in the Atlantic states and in Minas Geraes, and finds favorable conditions in some areas of the state of Goyaz; the Brazilian production which is valued at various levels from 50 to 70 thousand tons. almost three quarters (70%) per year are supplied by Bahia and Minas, from which exports are also carried out, which in the five-year period 1924-28 amounted to over 30 thousand tons. per year, representing an average annual value of 75 thousand contos di reis.
Originating from the American soil are the sweet potato (Ipomaea batata) and what the Brazilians call English potato (common potato or Solanum tuberosum, which is not enough for domestic consumption), and very widespread, indeed of fundamental importance for indigenous food, is cassava (mandioca), which has a value similar to that of wheat for Europe for Brazil: the two varieties of cultivated mandioca (mansa) and wild mandioca (brava) are respectively characterized by red leaves and green leaves. Another cereal, which is rightly believed to be widespread in the pre-Columbian age, from the banks of the Solimões to those of upper Uruguay, is millet. The cultivation of cotton (algodão), whose production was favored during the war of succession, resumed a great development after the war to respond both to the demands of the internal market and those of the world market. Brazil ranks sixth as a world producer of the precious fiber: the NE region. and particularly the states of Parahyba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, Sergipe, Pernambuco, Maranhão, possess vast areas very suitable where the culture of cotton is spreading rapidly. St. Paul has also intensified production, but this is insufficient for the needs of its textile industries which already have to turn to the producing states of NE. In the agricultural five-year period 1923-24-27-28 the area cultivated with cotton was annually greater than half a million hectares, and the annual production of 125 thousand tons. of raw cotton, while the export in the same period did not exceed the average of 15 thousand tons. per year. Among the textile plants we still note the sorghum and a malvacea widespread in the state of S. Paolo which on the spot is called “guaximi”. As for oil plants, in addition to the common castor and the Aromatic vanilla, we should particularly remember the coconut so widespread along the coast where, it is estimated, 100 million plants arise.