Distribuição das propriedades rurais no estado de Minas Gerais


  • Elza Coelho de Sousa


Minas Gerais, Economia Agrícola, Geografia Econômica, Propriedade Rural


            In this paper, the author studies the distribution of the rural estates in the State of Minas Gerais, according to their medium areas measured in hectares.

            Using the informations contained in the 1940 Census, she elaborated three maps done by the process of isarithms: the first, in which the present study is based, shows the medium area of the rural estates in each "Município", being this medium area obtained through the division of the number or rural settlements by the total occupied by these settlements.

            The second map shows the density of the rural population; these densities were calculated in relation to the area occupied by the rural estates within the "Municipio" and not in relation to the administrative area (Municipio).

            Finally, the third map refers to the percentage of the area of the "Municipios" occupied by farms.

            The comparative study of these maps led to the division of the State in two zones limited by the isarithm of 141 hectares of rnediurn area and 12 inhabitants per square kilometer of occupied area.

            Generally, these lines separate the agricultural zone (or cattle-raising), with estates of a medium area which varies from 25 to 141 hectares and with a more or less dense rural population, from the zone where the extensive cattle-raising, done in large estates with an area of more than 141 hectares, predominates and in which (zone) the rural population is very disperse.

            These large zones were subdivided in other zones which cover "Municipios" in which the values of the medium area are approximately alike and the human or physical aspects similar.

Thus, the author distinguished, within the first region, (with estates smaller than 141 hectares and more than 12 inhabitants per square kilometer), the following zones:

            1 - South Zone: limited by the isarithm of 79 hectares. Covers the crystalline plateau of the Mantiqueira Range.

            It is a zone of mixed economy (both agriculture and cattle-raising) in which the isarithm of 60 hectares of medium area delimits the region in which the chief activity is agriculture.

            This region covers the highest regions of the plateau in the South of the State.

            2 - Forest Zone: lies on the southeastern part of the State, on the slopes of the plateau, and is limited by the isarithm of 60 hectares. This is the wealthiest agricultural zone of the State, due to favorable natural conditions.

            Dividing these two zones, there is the peneplane of the upper Rio Grande.

This peneplane, about 1 000 meters high and covered by grass lands (campos naturais) is traditionally pastoral.

            3 - Zone of the water divide Rio Grande São Francisco: This is another zone of divided estates limited by the isarithm of 60 hectares. Together with a developed agriculture, there is important activity in cattle-raising. It furnishes the capital of the State with agricultural and pastoral products.

            4 - Metallurgic Zone: situated on the upper valley of the Rio das Velhas, it presents wide contrasts between the medium area of properties. Its relief, very rough, is constituted of Algonkian formations thus causing the chief activity to be the exploitation of iron and manganese deposits.

            The high figures observed for the medium area are in relation to the existence of metallurgic factories which own several farms for the purpose of reforesting and consequent provision of fuel.

            The most important characteristic of this zone is the little use of the land for agricultural or pastoral purposes: less than 50%.

5 - Zone of the upper Jequitinhonha and Pardo rivers: covers the Espinhaço Range and is limited by the isarithm o f 103 hectares.

            It presents the same characteristic of the last zone, little use of the land for agricultural or pastoral purposes (less than 30%).

            It is an ancient zone of gold and diamond prospecting.

            On the second region, covering the Western and Northwestern parts of the State, in which one finds rural estates of more than 141 hectares of medium area, the following zones are distinguished:

            1 - "Triângulo Mineiro"* - formed by tablelands covered by "cerrados"** where the extensive cattle-raising, done in large estates with a medium area of more than 170 hectares, predominates.

            2 - Paracatu - Urucuia Zone - is also constituted by tablelands and devoted to cattle-raising.

            The rural estates are bigger and the zone is limited by the isarithm of 500 hectares.

            The rural population is observed to have, in th~ zone, the smallest density in all the State; less than three inhabitants per square kilometer.

            3 - The Valley of the São Francisco is a traditionally pastoral zone.

            The medium areas of rural estates vary from 141 to 250 hectares.

4 - Medium Valley of the Jequitinhonha river - this zone is located on the Northeast the State, the rural estates are large and the principal economic activity is cattle-raising.

            * The State of Minas Gerais, in its Western part, has the shape of a triangle formed by its borders with the States of Goiás, Mato-Grosso and São Paulo.

            * * Probable savanna formation.

            From the conjunct study of the maps, the author arrives to the following conclusions:

  1. a) in a general way, agriculture predominates in the first region, with its little or medium sized estates, which run from the Southwest to the Northeast.

            The natural condition of this region are: fertile and deep soils, hot-humid climate with a good distribution of rainfall, besides the good communications system and the proximity of large markets which favored the agricultural development of the region.

            The isarithms of 79 to 141 hectares delimit the predominance of an economy in which both agriculture and cattle-raising represent an important role. b) the region in which large estates appear (West and Northwest), with its tablelands covered with "cerrado" and its tropical climate in which the dry season is very distinct, is dedicated essentially to cattle-raising.

            The medium areas are larger than 141 hectares and the rural population is less than 12 inhabitants per square kilometer.

            The effective population and a more intense exploitation of the land are found in the region dedicated to agricultural or pastoral activities; more than 70% of the area of the "Municípios" is occupied.

            On the zones in which mining is the principal economic activity, occupation and settlement are reduced and, in a general way, less than 50% of the area of the "Municipios" is occupied by farms under exploitation.