Economic well-being, which is a factor of such importance in ensuring the moral and material structure of the Belgian state, has its main root in the treasures of agricultural and mining soil. Not that the generally favorable conditions of the climate and the abundance and happy distribution of the waters correspond equally to the favor of the land, it being possible to say that no more than one third of the country is made up of good lands; but even in the less propitious regions the human work has managed to correct in an admirable way the disfavor of nature. On the same soil of the Ardennes, where quartzites, phyllites, sandstones and shales poor in limestone are barely covered with a veil of thin soil, and where the original forest extension of oaks and beeches is not it is thinned out that in order to give way to lean pastures and scarce crops of rye, oats and potatoes, agriculture is today seen to proceed to rapid conquests, thanks to the extensive use of fertilizing materials and the consequent development of forage crops. The same soil of the Campine, above all ungrateful, is now covered with very extensive plantations of pines, irrigates and converts into pastures along the valley edges, is transformed into artificial meadows and arable lands by means of fattening provided by the debris of the large city. Flanders, for its part, originally completely sterile, has become a truly flourishing garden, thanks to the hard art of the farmer, who has wonderfully managed to correct the ungrateful surface soil. For Belgium business, please check cheeroutdoor.com.
In the whole of Belgium the productive land, between woods, cultivated lands and uncultivated lands, ascended in 1910 to square kilometers. 25,842, equivalent to (87.7% of the state area: of which kmq. 19,565 (66.4%) cultivated land, 5198 (17.6%) forests, 1080 uncultivated (3.7%). Intensive cultivation has a great prevalence, as the Belgian population has succeeded in making their land productive so much that it has almost nothing but agguating it: Flanders in particular has the pride of having been the first to introduce art for centuries ( which much later the rest of Belgium learned) to have the land produced without rest, thanks to the ingenious use of all sorts of fertilizing materials. Of the cultivated area (data from 1926), 3891 sq. km are for fodder, 6964 cereals (oats on 2703 sq km, rye on 2257, wheat out of 1434, the latter with an average production that already in 1926 almost reached the remarkable figure of 25 q. per hectare), 1605 with potatoes, 1832 with ramolacci (cultivated underground after harvesting), 640 with sugar beets, 785 with fodder beets, 2437 with mowing meadows.
However, it should be noted that cereals, which in 1913 still occupied 41.6% of the cultivated area, in 1923 only reached 39, while industrial plants had increased from 5.05 to 5.8, fodder from 33.5 to 41, beets from 52,419 to 81,152 hectares: the tendency to increase industrial crops and even more to crops favoring the development of livestock is evident in these figures, as indeed in all the evolution of the agricultural economy of the country. Cereal provinces par excellence Brabant, two Flanders, Hainaut; West Flanders prevails in legumes, Hainaut and Flanders in industrial plants, Hesbaye in sugar beets, Walloon provinces in fodder crops. Some crops are particularly localized:
If Belgium’s national wealth was estimated to be 45 to 60 billion francs ahead of the war, agriculture would have represented a fourth or fifth part of that figure.
Livestock breeding is one of the main care of the residents and is constantly increasing, if we remove the crisis suffered during the war which can now be considered almost completely cured. He cared with passion and with great profit the breeding of horses, especially in Brabant and Hesbaye, famous for their robust and powerful breed (in 1926 heads 250,287); very rich that of cattle for milk and for work (1.711.702) and pigs (1.143.860); the sheep, already in 1910 reduced to 185,373, are not found more numerous except in the arid Campine. Cattle and pigs are today 92 and 64 respectively for every 100 hectares of cultivated land; the production of dairy products is very strong and of the highest quality, but of them, like meat, the product is insufficient for the consumption of the population. The development of the
In 1924, 388 vessels with a tonnage of 8882 tons dedicated themselves to fishing. and with 1920 crewmen. Atlantic cod fishing, which was still used in large numbers fifty years ago, has now completely ceased; herring fishing continues with a small number of vessels, and coastal fishing, which has its center in Ostend and, secondarily, in Heyst, Nieuport, La Panne and Blankenberghe, is much more numerous. Ostend, also supplied by neighboring countries, is one of the richest fish markets in Europe and has very famous shellfish and oyster farms.