Even the new Poland has an essentially agricultural character, as shown, among other things, by the percentage of the rural population (69%), but this character is less accentuated than in pre-war Poland, following the loss of exclusively agricultural-forestry territories, like the oriental ones and the purchase of all Silesia where, on the other hand, alongside agriculture, industries are also of primary importance. However, agriculture remains, for now, the basic activity of the Polish population.
Still very little is known about the use of the land. The data reported in the Polish Statistical Yearbook of 1947 refer to the pre-war agricultural conditions (1938), both of the old and the new territories, and only for single crops, even those of 1946. It is obvious that they must all be largely considered approximate; those of 1946, then, still reflect an abnormal state of affairs, due to the consequences of the serious damage also suffered by the countryside, and to the displacements of large masses of the population. All things considered, it seems that, to give a picture of the agricultural conditions of the new Poland, the pre-war data (which, among other things, for the production result from the average of a five-year period) could be better used than those of 1946; of these, however, the main ones will be mentioned.
The following table compares the data for New Poland and pre-war Poland.
As a consequence of the considerable reduction in the area of the new Poland, in comparison with pre-war Poland, there was, of course, a decrease in the absolute figures. Considering the percentages, we note instead that there is, or rather, when living conditions return to normal, an improvement as regards arable land, and that otherwise the situation can be said to be unchanged. The arable land is distributed fairly evenly in the various voivodships, since the percentage of land they normally occupy does not fall below 45.9% (Olsztyn) and does not rise above 59 (Łódź). The same can be said of vegetable gardens and orchards (minimum in the Voivodeships of Lublin, Białystok and Wroclaw, 1.5%). For meadows, the voivodships of Białystok (10.8%) and Lublin (10%) are at the top; the minimum occurs in the Kielce Voivodeship (5.8%). For natural pastures, it is easy to understand how the voivodships that comprise a part of the Baltic Ridge (Olsztyn, 9.7%) or a stretch of the Carpathian area (Krakow and Rzeszów, 8.2%) are in the first places; the minimum occurs in the Wrocław voivodeship (1.8%).
According to smber, the loss of the great forests of Polessia, Volhynia and the Vilna region was compensated by the purchase of the forests that cover a large part of the Oder basin; it ranges from a maximum of 28.4% (Silesia) to a minimum of 15.9% (Warsaw). The peaks for uncultivated and unproductive land are found in the voivodships of Gdansk (13.7%), Olsztyn (13.6) and Białystok (11.5), rich in lake and marshy areas and moors; the minimum belongs to the Rzeszów voivodeship (6%).
For more than half, therefore, the Polish territory is occupied by arable land; of these, two thirds are used for cereal crops, among which the prevalence is rye, widely used in bread making (5.3 million ha., 46.5 million q. as an average for the five-year period 1934-38, with a yield of 11.7 q. per ha.; in 1946: 3 million ha. 27.6 million q.). For rye, Poland was and still is in third place among all countries in the world, after the USSR and Germany. The largest producers are the Voivodeships of Poznań, Warsaw, Łódź and Lublin.
For the cultivation and production of wheat SE Poland has the primacy, in particular the Voivodeship of Lublin. The area normally used for this crop is, overall, 1.3 million ha. which give 12.3 million q. (1946: 700.000 ha. And 6.2 million q.). In pre-war Poland, grain production was much higher, as it came mainly from the fertile lands of Podolia and Volhynia, now lost.
The voivodships of Pomerania, Poznań and Lublin are at the fore in the production of barley, which in the whole territory of the republic occupies, in normal times, an area of 1 million ha., And gives 8.9 million q. of product (1946: 748,000 ha., 6.7 million q.). For oats (1.9 million ha., 16.5 million q. As an average of the five-year period 1934-38; in 1946: 1.1 million ha. And 10.2 million q.) the Voivodeships of Lublin, Poznań and Krakow. In pre-war Poland, barley and oats also came especially from the southern part of the country: the former, above all from Podolia; the second, from the Carpathian region, now largely lost.
Among other crops it continues to have a ‘ enormous importance potato, used both for human consumption and pigs, both in order to obtain alcohol and starch. It normally covers an area of 2.8 million ha. and gives a product of 243.3 million q. (1946: 1.7 million ha., 187 million q.). One sixth of the product comes from the Poznań Voivodeship alone, which is also in first place for the production of sugar beet, which Poland cultivates on 225,000 ha. with 25.3 million q. of product (1946: 170,000 ha. and 29.8 million q.).
Among industrial crops, in addition to beet, flax and hemp are of considerable importance. The first (61.400 ha., 255.000 q. Of seed and 136.000 of fiber) is produced especially in the NE part. of the country (the Białystok voivodeship gives almost 3/4 of the total and in Silesia; hemp, on the other hand, which needs a milder climate, is particularly widespread in the SE., and the Lublin and Rzeszów m voivodeships produce 3/4 of the total which amounts (we always refer to the 1934-38 average) to 44,000 q. Of seeds and 29,000 q. Of fiber, coming from an area of 10,800 ha. With the loss of the eastern territories, Poland was deprived of the areas where the cultivation of flax and hemp was more widespread, whose production, therefore, in pre-war Poland was much higher than the current one.
Also worth mentioning are the crops of rapeseed, tobacco (1/3 of this is produced by the Lublinese) and hops (the Lublinese produces half of it).