The Many Faces of Agriculture

land farms is a very important activity for the survival of human beings on this earth. This is clearly reflected in the very basic fact that agriculture is one of the oldest activities of humankind. The term ‘agriculture’ includes both the cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals.

As the most profound resource, agriculture provides food, clothing and shelter to us. With the spread of knowledge of the most advanced implements, there has been immense progress in the spread of agriculture, as well as agricultural output. The use of agricultural machinery, scientific methods of farming and diversification of crops have improved the overall production of agricultural crops the world over.

The study of agriculture is important because it has been classified into different agricultural types, each with its unique characteristic features. These varied types are:-

i) Shifting cultivation – Also known as ‘slash and burn agriculture’, this method of agriculture is important because it is subsistence ‘primitive’ farming. Practiced mostly by tribal nomads, this farming involves the clearing of forests for cultivation purposes. Generally, root crops are grown, like – millets, cassava, yams, rice or maize.

ii) Extensive agriculture – This is ‘commercial’ type of farming, important due to agro products, which are ‘market oriented’. The large quantities of food grains are grown basically for sale. Most of the farms are highly mechanized. The main areas of extensive agriculture in the world are – ‘Steppe lands’ of Russia, ‘Prairies’ of Canada and US, ‘Pampas’ of Argentina, and ‘Downs’ of Australia.

iii) Plantation farming – A ‘Monoculture’ type of farming, it is the practice of ‘specialization’ of one crop in large estates. The product is processed before it is marketed, and this is quite a profitable venture in the international market. The important crops are – cocoa, coffee, tea, rubber and sugarcane.

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