Social Science Class Eight  



Agriculture

Types of Economic Activities:

(a) Primary Activities: The economic activities which involve extraction and production of natural resources are called primary activities, e.g. agriculture, fishing, gathering, etc.

(b) Secondary Activities: The economic activities which involve the processing of natural resources are called secondary activities, e.g. manufacturing steel, baking of bread, weaving of cloth, etc.

(c) Tertiary Activities: The economic activities which support the primary and secondary activities are called tertiary activities, e.g. banking, transport, finance, etc.

50% of the world’s population is engaged in agricultural activity. In India, two-thirds of the population is dependent on agriculture.

Arable Land: The land on which crops are grown in called arable land. Favourable topography and climate are important for agriculture.

Viticulture: Cultivation of grapes is called viticulture.

Horticulture: Growing vegetables, flowers and fruits for commercial use is called horticulture.

Sericulture: Commercial rearing of silk worms for silk production is called sericulture.

Farm System: Farming is a kind of system in which various inputs and processes are involved to obtain production. Machineries, seeds and fertilisers are the physical inputs for agriculture. Labour is the human input. Crops are the outputs of agriculture.

Types of Farming

There are two main types of farming, viz. subsistence farming and commercial farming.

Subsistence Farming: When farming is done to meet the needs of the farmer’s family, it is called subsistence farming. In subsistence farming, low levels of technology and household labour are generally utilised. Farming is done on smaller plots and output is also small. Subsistence farming can be further categorized as intensive subsistence and primitive subsistence farming.

(a) Intensive Subsistence Farming: In this type of farming, the farmer cultivates on a small plot of land. He uses simple tools and more labour. Places which have fertile soils and where the climate allows a large number of days with sunshine are suitable for this type of farming. In favourable climates, farmers are able to grow more than one crop in a year. Rice is the main crop in this type of farming. However, wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds are also grown. This type of farming is prevalent in densely populated areas of the monsoon regions of south, southeast and east Asia.

(b) Primitive Subsistence Farming: Shifting cultivation and nomadic herding come under this type of farming.

(i) Shifting Cultivation: In shifting cultivation, a small patch of land is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. Then the ashes are mixed with the soil and seeds are broadcast. After a couple of years, the patch of the land is left fallow and the farmer moves on in search of a new patch of land. Shifting cultivation is practiced in thickly forested areas of Amazon basin, tropical Africa, parts of southeast Asia and Northeast India.

Different Names of Shifting Cultivation:

  • Jhum Cultivation: Meghalaya and Chhattisgarh
  • Milpa: Mexico
  • Roca: Brazil
  • Ladang: Malaysia

(ii) Nomadic Herding: In this type of farming, cattle, sheep, goat and camel are reared. The herdsmen move from place to place with their animals in search of new pastures. Nomadic herding is practiced in the semi-arid and arid regions of Sahara, Central Asia and some parts of India (like Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir).

Commercial Farming: This type of farming is done with sale as the main purpose. In this case, a very large area is cultivated and large amount of capital is utilised. Heavy machineries are used with less emphasis on manual labour. Commercial farming includes commercial grain farming, mixed farming and plantation.

The temperate grasslands of North America, Europe and Asia are the major areas where commercial grain farming is done. Severe winters in these areas restrict the growing season and only a single crop can be grown in a year. Tea, coffee, sugarcane, cashew, rubber, banana and cotton are grown in plantations. The produce of plantation may be processed on the farm itself or in nearby factories. A good transport network is essential for commercial plantation. Rubber is mainly grown in Malaysia, coffee in Brazil and tea is grown in India and Sri Lanka.

MAJOR CROPS

Rice: Rice is the staple diet of people in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Rice needs high temperature, high humidity and rainfall. Alluvial soil is the best for rice cultivation because it can retain water. China is the leading producer of rice. India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Egypt are also among the leading producers.

Wheat: Wheat needs moderate temperature and rainfall during growing season. It needs bright sunshine during harvest season. Well drained loamy soil is ideal for wheat cultivation. Wheat is grown mainly in the USA, Canada, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Australia and India.

Millets: Millets grow on less fertile and sandy soil. Millet is a hardy crop and needs low rainfall and high to moderate temperature. Jowar, bajra and ragi are the millets grown in India. Millet is also grown in Nigeria, China and Niger.

Maize: Maize needs moderate temperature, rainfall and plenty of sunshine. Well drained fertile soil is required for maize cultivation. Maize is mainly grown in North America, Brazil, China, Russia, Canada, India and Mexico.

Cotton: Cotton needs high temperature, light rainfall and bright sunshine. It also needs two hundred and ten frost-free days. Black soil is ideal for growing cotton. China, USA, India, Pakistan, Brazil and Egypt are the leading producers of cotton.

Jute: Jute needs high temperature, heavy rainfall and high humidity. It is also known as the “Golden Fibre”. India and Bangladesh are the leading producers of jute.

Coffee: Coffee needs warm and humid climate with well-drained loamy soil. Brazil is the leading producer of coffee; followed by Columbia and India.

Tea: Tea needs cool climate and well distributed high rainfall throughout the year. Tea plants need well-drained loamy soil and gentle slope. Processing of tea leaves is highly labour intensive. India is the leading producer of tea; followed by Sri Lanka, China and Kenya.

Agricultural Development

Efforts to increase farm production mean agricultural development. Agricultural development can be attained by various methods; like increasing the area under cultivation, increasing the number of crops grown. Improvement in irrigation facilities, use of fertilisers and high yielding variety of seeds are also done for agricultural development. Moreover, use of modern farm equipments is also encouraged for agricultural development.

A Farm in India

The plot size is usually smaller in India. The Indian farmer usually lives in the main village. He buys high yielding varieties of seeds and chemical fertilisers from shops which sell them at subsidized rates. As the land is fertile in a major part of the country, most of the farmers grow at least two crops in a year. Rice, wheat and pulses are the main crops.

An Indian farmer takes advice from his friends and elders. He also takes advice from government agricultural officers. Some farmers use bullocks for ploughing, while some others hire a tractor. Irrigation is done by tube-well or with the help of canals.

Many Indian farmers are also engage in animal husbandry to support their income. Some of the farmers also rear poultry. The government veterinary hospitals provide facilities for artificial insemination of cattle.

A small farmer is usually helped by his family members when he needs the services of manual labour. Storage facilities are not proper in most of the villages. Hence, most of the farmers are forced to sell their produce when the market may not be favourable to them.

A Farm in the USA

A typical farm size in the USA is about 250 hectares and it can go in thousands as well. The farmer usually lives in the farm itself. Corn, soyabean, wheat, cotton and sugarbeet are the major crops. Ploughing is done by huge cultivators. Combine harvester is used during the harvest. Pesticides and fertilisers are spread from airplanes. Soil samples are taken to the soil laboratory from time to time. Soil testing helps the farmer to scientifically plan his farming activities. The farmers in the USA often use computers to access latest information from satellites.

Storage facilities are highly developed and huge silos are used for storing grains. Well developed cold storage facilities ensure that fruits and vegetables do not go waste.


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