Agriculture can be referred to as the practice of cultivating various crops and the rearing of livestock and other animals. People who undertake this practice of agriculture are mainly called farmers.
Agriculture mainly takes place in areas with soils and weather that can support the proper growth of crops. However, modern technology has made it possible for people to partake in agriculture anywhere.
History: The early humans were hunters and gatherers. They used to hunt animals and gather fruits and honey for food. The practice of agriculture is believed to have started in the Southwest Asia.
Anthropological and archeological records have shown evidence of agricultural practices in Southwest Asia and North Africa that dates back to the 20000 BC era. The first agricultural crops to be planted were wheat, barley, chick peas, flax, lentils and bitter vetch. Agriculture later spread to parts of the Middle East, and along the river Nile banks.
Some of the reasons that may have necessitated the need for agriculture include climate changes, and also due to the fact people started living together in small societies and they hence started the practice.
Types of agriculture
- Pastoralism is the type of agriculture that is mainly concerned with keeping livestock. This takes place especially in the arid and semi-arid areas.
- Shifting cultivation is the type of agriculture that involves clearing a forest or a bush area and then using that piece of land of grow crops. Farmers then move from that area after the soil is no longer fertile and they go to another area where they begin the practice all over again.
- Subsistence farming is the type of agriculture where people plant crops or keep animals for their own consumption or benefit.
- Intensive farming can be referred to the type of agriculture where farmers cultivate crops to achieve maximum profits from them. Crops are mainly planted for commercial use. In this type of farming, a lot of inputs are used to grow the crops.
Main agricultural crops
- Corn is an agricultural crop that is planted in most parts of the world and it has many uses like making corn flour or making animal feed.
- Wheat is also a major agricultural crop used in the production of wheat flour.
- Rice is a crop planted in most parts of the world and it is also consumed by the majority of the world’s population.
- Barley is a major agricultural crop that is used in the making of wine.
- Potatoes are also crops that are widely grown around the world.
- Tomatoes are vegetables that are red when ripe and are planted around the world.
- Sugarcane is also an agricultural crop that is mainly processed into sugar.
Benefits of agriculture
- Through agriculture, the world is able to produce food that is needed to sustain life.
- Agriculture also leads to the rise of agricultural industries. These are industries that produce processed agricultural products.
- Agriculture creates jobs for many people around the world. This is because farmers earn income from agriculture and people are also employed in farms and agricultural industries.
- Agriculture also contributes to a country’s GDP. This is through exportation of agricultural products.
- Agriculture also leads to the production of clothes through fibre crops like cotton and sisal and through animal skins.
- Agriculture also leads to better use of land.
Sustainable agriculture can be referred to as using sustainable methods of farming. It involves using various farm inputs that are more environmental friendly. It involves the use of natural and organic inputs. This type of farming is carried out to ensure that the farming practices adopted are good for the whole community and profitable. In this type of agriculture, a balance is maintained between enough food production and the preservation of the environmental ecosystem.
Goals of sustainable agriculture
- One goal of sustainable agriculture is to ensure environmental health. This is through the use of environmental friendly farm inputs that will maintain the ecosystem and not damage it.
- Sustainable agriculture also aims at achieving economic profitability. Through the use of the proper farm inputs that may be renewable, farmers are assured of increasing their profits.
- Another goal of sustainable agriculture is social and economic equity. Farmers are able to use the same methods of farming and using inputs that are readily available to everyone.
Benefits of sustainable agriculture
- Through the practice of sustainable agriculture, the quality of soil in maintained through use of the proper farm inputs.
- Sustainable agriculture also leads to the production of more healthy foods.
- Sustainable agriculture promotes environmental conservation as the ecosystem is not damaged by the friendly farm inputs.
- Sustainable farming methods also lead to prevention of soil erosion.
- Sustainable agriculture also leads to reduced levels of water pollution leading to clean water supply.
Examples of sustainable agriculture
- Rotation of crops and also observing crop diversity will ensure that you preserve the soil and that you control pests.
- The planting of cover crops will also contribute to improved soil health through prevention of soil erosion.
- Reducing the use of chemical pesticides will help in protecting the environment and ecosystem.
- By practicing agro-forestry, you are able to protect the soil, plants and the environment. This involves planting trees together with crops.
- Integrating crops and animals will ensure that plants have enough manure and production is increased in a profitable way.
Agriculture in India
Agriculture is a major income earner for most of India’s population. This sector has employed over 55% of the country’s population. There are many crops that are cultivated in the country with the major ones being rice and wheat. There are also other varieties of crops grown including sugarcane, potatoes, tea, coffee, jute, oilseeds and cotton. However, as much as agriculture is widely practiced in the country, the yields that are gotten from the farms are low as compared to global standards. This may be due to lack of proper water management. A lot of agricultural output also goes into waste due to poor harvesting methods and poor transport networks.
Agriculture is a very important practice around the world. It is through agriculture that the world produces enough food that is needed to sustain life. Agriculture also has other major benefits that it offers. Sustainable agricultural practices are the sure way of ensuring that we preserve land.