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Abstract

This work analyzes the changes in area under cultivation that occurred between 1985 and 1995/1996 in the meso-regions Triângulo Mineiro/Alto Paranaíba and Zona da Mata in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The analysis was conducted in two methodological stages. First, variation in the area under cultivation for a particular crop was disaggregated into variation due to change in regional agricultural scale and variation due to the substitution effect. Second, an econometric model of the crop that had the greatest growth in cultivated area and highest substitution effect index was developed to identify the main factors responsible for these high figures. It is observed that the area under rice cultivation was reduced in all regions, a fact related to the high cost of production. Coffee cultivation expanded in Manhuaçu, due mainly to the area’s favorable climate and topography, and the area devoted to pasture expanded the most. It is stressed that the amount of land devoted to pasture increased as labor became more scarce: a 1% reduction in labor availability lead to a 0.8% increase in pasture.

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