Memoria sobre a cultura do arros em Portugal, e suas conquistas
Vicente Coelho de Seabra Silva Telles
Editor: Lisboa, Offic. da Casa Literraria do Arco do Cego
Year of edition: 1800
The interest of this publication begins with the idea, present throughout the book, of the social role of agriculture. For the author, also for the economic policy in Portugal over the centuries, agriculture should firstly feed the Portuguese. Economic autarky was to be achieved as a way to warranty the full independence of Portugal. Thus, due to productivity higher than any other grain, rice appeared with the potential to fulfil this everlasting goal. However, rice was, for some, responsible for the dissemination of malaria and the State began to restrict it. The author, like many others, didn’t share this opinion and denies it in the first chapter of the book, although admitting his ignorance regarding the causes of the disease. Then, in the second chapter, the techniques of rice cultivation that would lead Portugal to be one of the richest nations of Europe are described.
Vicente Telles was right, despite not knowing why: malaria isn’t the consequence of rice cultivation. The matter, however, was only clarified in the early 20th century leading to the end of the restrictions. Since then rice has thrived, although it has only met the domestic demand in a few years, and rice economic policy didn’t change much even with the integration in the European Union. Rice presents a long history of economic, agriculture and health policies in Portugal with one of its early stages reflected in this book, making it essential to understand it.