30 Examples of Primary Economic Activities

Feb 19, 2023

Primary economic activities are essential to human societies and have been the cornerstone of human civilization for millennia.

"Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man." - George Washington

From agriculture and mining to fishing and forestry, primary economic activities involve the extraction and production of natural resources that form the basis of our food, energy and housing needs.


Farmers may sell their crops to local or regional markets, or to food processors and manufacturers.

Vegetable farming: The most commonly marketed vegetables are tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, garlic, etc.

Wheat farming: Wheat flour, malt, wheat oil, etc. are obtained from wheat.

Fruit cultivation: Fruits can be cultivated almost everywhere on the planet, among the most commercialized are apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, etc.

Seed production: Consists of the production and sale of seeds to farmers. This activity can be carried out by companies specialized in seed production or by the farmers themselves.

Land preparation: From land preparation, plowing, sowing, spraying, fertilizing, harvesting, sorting and distributing the harvest, it creates an economic activity in the generation of employment.

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield." - Dwight D. Eisenhower


Meat production: Consists of breeding and raising cattle, pigs, sheep and goats for their meat. Farmers can sell live animals to meat processors or directly to consumers in local markets.

Dairy production: This consists of raising dairy cattle and producing milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products. These products can be sold in local or regional markets or used to manufacture other food products.

Wool production: This involves raising sheep for their wool, which can be sold to textile mills for use in clothing and other products.

Raising and selling animals: Farmers can raise and sell animals for various purposes, such as meat, dairy products, wool and breeding stock for other farmers.

Animal feed production: Farmers may also grow crops such as corn, soybeans and hay to feed their animals, as well as sell surplus feed to other farmers or feed mills.

Land management: Livestock farming involves managing the land on which animals graze, including maintaining pastures, managing manure and waste, and implementing sustainable land-use practices.

Discover even more about 80 Examples of Secondary Economic Activities.

Fishing Activity

Fishing: Fishing is the main economic activity. Fishermen catch fish and other aquatic animals in the sea, lake, lagoons or rivers.

Aquaculture: The practice of raising fish and other aquatic animals in tanks or ponds, either for food or for other purposes such as aquariums or research.

Selling fresh fish: Having access to a local market or community that values fresh seafood, fishermen can sell fish directly to consumers. Some have started selling them online or through social media platforms.


Honey production and sales: Honey is the most popular product of beekeeping. Beekeepers collect honey from their hives to sell to consumers.

Production and sale of wax: Wax is a fat produced by worker bees and sold in sheets of wax.

Sale of bees: Bees are sold from queen bees to swarms of bees of different breeds for greater honey production.

Pollen production and sale: Pollen is marketed in two ways; one is taken directly and placed in a container for sale and the other is left to dry until it has less than 10% humidity.


Sale of Plants: Nurseries are the clearest example of plant trade; from fruit trees, cacti, ornamental, medicinal, to exotic plants.

Felling and sale of wood: This is the most popular activity, since trees are cut down to sell the wood, which can later be used in the production of paper, furniture, used in construction and other industries.

Tourism: The primary objective of forestry is the conservation of forests. The mere fact of planting trees around a restaurant or tourist center makes people want to access and appreciate the arboreal zone.

"Forestry is not a science, it is a craft." - Sir William Schlich


Extraction of precious metals: With the exploitation of gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc or any other metal deposits, these can be sold directly to factories, which will process them to obtain products derived from them.

Quarrying: There are places called "quarries", where stones of different types are extracted, cut and later sold for construction.

Extraction of Minerals: These include non-metallic minerals such as sand, kaolin, limestone, clay, granite, among others.

Coal Mining: Whether as hard coal or lignite coal, coal mining is a centuries-old practice that has boosted the economy of the countries that practice it.

coal mine Image by Pavlo from Pixabay


Wild meat: In areas far from the big cities, hunting of animals is still practiced, either to sell it for food or medicinal purposes.

Tanning: This is the process by which, once the animal has been hunted, the skin is extracted and tanned by means of artisanal processes to obtain leather.

Animal skins: Although in most countries this practice is prohibited, there are still rural areas in which people hunt animals such as bears, wolves, lions, among others, in order to sell their skins, which fetch a high price on the black market.

Discover even more about Tertiary Economic Activities: 100 Examples.

Crude Oil Extraction

The crude oil industry can be very profitable and bring important economic benefits to producing countries, such as job creation and the generation of income from exports.

The oil, once extracted, is sold to refineries, where it is transformed into various products, such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum derivatives.

Water Extraction

Water extraction usually involves the extraction and sale of water from various sources, such as subway aquifers, lakes, rivers and other natural bodies of water.

This activity can be carried out by individuals or companies for various purposes, such as irrigation, bottled water production, and industrial processes.

In some regions, water extraction can be a profitable business due to the high demand for water and the limited availability of water resources.

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