Primary economic activities

What are primary economic activities? Primary activities or primary industry comprise all economic activities based on the extraction or harvest of goods from the natural environment. This includes agriculture, forestry, mining, hunting, and fishing.

These activities contrast with the secondary activities that produce manufactures and the tertiary sector that offer services.

primary economic activities

Most of the products extracted from the primary economic activities are used in other industries where they become factors of production. For example cotton in the maquila of clothing, oilseeds in the manufacture of paints, wood in the manufacture of furniture among others. While other goods from this sector do not need any transformation or very little before their final consumption. For example fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Evolution of primary activities

Centuries ago, primary activities were the main economic activity. For example, in the United States of every twenty workers, nineteen worked to feed the country and obtain a surplus necessary to export. While today it takes less than one in twenty workers to feed more than 300 million Americans and get a surplus that makes the United States one of the largest food exporters in the world.

Today primary economic activities employ almost 40% of the world's working population. Although this participation is in decline and varies depending on the country. In Africa, for example, about 60% of the labor force is employed in the primary sector and in some regions of Asia 58%. Whereas in more developed countries of Europe only 6% and in the United States and Canada 3%.

In many countries, a high percentage of the workforce works in this sector because of the low agricultural productivity. That is why primary economic activities are the most important sector in many developing countries, but not in developed countries. Even when most of the world's primary production comes from the latter.

More: World Bank

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Economic Activity: Primary economic activities
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