Among industrial crops, besides tobacco, cotton and henequén (Agave sisalana) have become increasingly important. Cotton, which had been widespread in the times prior to the Spanish conquest, especially in the coastal plains, has now found its best habitat in the closed basins of the northern plateau, in the depressed lowland areas (bolsones) where, with the help of irrigation, large cotton plantations were developed, which provide a particularly valuable long-fiber product. The best lands are those of the Laguna region, on the borders of the states of Durango and Coahuila, especially around Torreón, now a city of 40,000 residents, while it was still a village of few houses in 1890. Other notable cotton districts (apart the lesser one of Matamoros) are found in the lower Colorado valley and in Baja California, which supply nearly 35% of Mexican cotton. They were developed on the initiative of North American citizens and are in fact the continuation in the territory of Mexico of the cotton districts of California. For Mexico 2004, please check topb2bwebsites.com.
The henequén or sisal is also cultivated in the states of Campeche and Chiapas, but its favorite habitat is in the Yucatán, where the climate subject to periodic drought and the nature of the soil, porous limestone, offer the plant ideal living conditions: yes he adds that the position near the sea coast and the proximity of the ports of Campeche and Progreso, facilitating the export of fibers, have given great impetus to this crop, which developed exclusively on the initiative of the active residents of Mérida and its district. The annual product, which is mostly exported, reaches the sum of q. 1,500,000, representing a value of 40 million pesos.
Many other textile fiber plants grow especially on the plateau, but they are not exploited rationally and none are cultivated except ixtle, or Tampico fiber, which is cultivated in the states of Coahuila, S. Luis Potosí and Oaxaca: the production, which has reached the figure of 120 thousand tons per year, is almost all exported to the United States and Germany.
Special mention deserves the agave da pulque or maguey, which is cultivated especially in the states of Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Mexico and in the Federal District, from which aguamiel is extracted which after a short fermentation becomes pulque, a national drink consumed in enormous quantities: in 1923 more than three million hectoliters were produced, supplied almost half by the state of Hidalgo, and a quarter each by Mexico and Tlaxcala.
Also noteworthy is the production of fruit (partly exported, such as bananas and pineapples from Veracruz and Tabasco), oil plants such as sesame, peanuts, coconut palms, etc.
The extent of the main agricultural products, according to official statistics, results from the table combined here (in tons).
The average annual value of agricultural production in the last five years (1927-32) was Pesos 550 million.
Livestock breeding. Domestic animals, which were completely lacking in pre-Columbian Mexico, were introduced there by the Spaniards and grew so rapidly in the new country that breeding became a favorite occupation of the Mexicans. Even now this branch of business is almost entirely in their hands, except for a few large companies in the northern territory, which export their products to the United States and are owned by American and British capitalists. The zootechnical patrimony is noteworthy, but it suffered huge losses during the political unrest and civil wars, after 1910; in this area too, reconstruction is proceeding rapidly and continuously. However, Mexico not only provides for internal needs, but can also feed a fair amount of exports, especially to Cuba and the United States.
In 1923 the states richest in cattle were Jalisco, Veracruz and Michoacán which had about 200,000 head each; Jalísco and Tamaulipas had the absolute largest number of horses (70 thousand head), while S. Luis Potosí owned the most mules (76 thousand). The largest number of sheep belonged to the Zacatecas (560,000 sheep and 360,000 goats) followed by Coahuila, Guanajuato, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. The average annual value of animal production for the last five years is 150 million pesos.
Forests. – Mexico’s forest heritage is certainly enormous, including the warm humid forests of the tierras calientes, species of Veracruz and Tabasco, those of plants of the temperate zone of the regions of the plateau and also the coniferous forests on the higher slopes. The lack of means of communication has hitherto prevented the exploitation of these riches, while, in the more densely inhabited localities, the exploitation was done in a completely irrational way, leading to the complete destruction of many woods. Thus also in Mexico there is a forestry problem similar to that of the old European countries, and the need was felt for the creation of a real forestry corps, for the application of the forestry law of 1926. The work of the forestry corps will be able to bring huge profits, given that the entire forest heritage, valued at 20 million hectares, so far only one and a half million hectares have been exploited. The areas richest in forests are those of Quintana Roo and Tabasco in the hot-humid regions, and the external slopes of the sierras, where rainfall is more abundant. Forestry production which includes the collection of precious woods (ebony, pink wood, mahogany, oaks, pines, cypresses) and dyeing, tannic and aromatic plants (camping wood, Brazilian wood, indigo, copal, vanilla, etc.) it is estimated to have reached an annual value of 52 million pesos in the last five years.