3 April 2015

Agriculture - NCERT Notes

NCERT / CBSE NOTES | Class 8th (VIII) : Chapter Summary



This process of transformation of a crop to a finished product can be divided into three types of economic activities i.e. Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Activities. The activities related to the extraction of natural resources, growing crops and rearing livestock, are called primary activities.
The activities related to the processing of natural resources, like grinding wheat to produce flour are called secondary activities. While the activities that support the primary and secondary activities through services, such as transportation and marketing, are known as tertiary activities.

Agriculture is derived from the Latin words ager, meaning field, and cultura, meaning cultivation. Agriculture hence refers to the process of producing food, feed and fibre through the cultivation of plants, and rearing livestock and is also known as farming.

About 50% of the world’s population is engaged in agriculture. In India, more than 2/3rd of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. This is because, India has the land and climatic conditions favorable for carrying out agricultural activities. The land that can be used for cultivation is referred to as arable land.

Apart from soil conditions, different climatic factors that affect the cultivation of crops in an area are rainfall or precipitation, temperature, and light. Different crops require different climatic conditions for a healthy growth.

Other forms of cultivation are: Sericulture, Pisciculture, Viticulture and Horticulture.

Sericulture is the art and science of rearing silk worms to produce raw silk and involves the cultivation of food-plants to feed the silk worms, and the extraction of raw silk yarn from the cocoons of the silk worms for processing and weaving. Sericulture derives its name from the Latin words serikos, meaning silk, and cultura, meaning cultivation.

Pisciculture is the scientific method for breeding fish in specially designed ponds, tanks or lakes and is done purely for commercial purposes. Pisciculture also derives its name from the Latin words pisci, meaning fish, and cultura, meaning cultivation.

Viticulture derives its name from the Latin words vitis, meaning vine, and cultura, meaning cultivation and is the science, study and production of grapes.

Horticulture is the industry and science of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers or ornamental plants. It also derives its name from the Latin words horti, meaning garden, and cultura, meaning cultivation. It involves all the activities carried out to improve the crop yield, quality and nutritional value, and resistance to insects and diseases.

Farming Systems

The farming system has three components: Input, Process and Output. The inputs to a farming system include seeds, fertilisers, machinery and labour while the outputs of farming are crops, wool, dairy and poultry products. The outputs are obtained by processing activities, like tilling, sowing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting, or breeding in case of an animal farm.

There are two types of farming:Subsistence farming and Commercial farming. Subsistence farming is carried out at a low scale for a small output while commercial farming involves activities on a larger scale and yields a much larger produce.

Subsistence farming mostly serves to meet the requirements of the farmer and his family while commercial farming, the crops grown and the animals reared are sold in the market. The technology used in subsistence farming is very low-end, and most of the labour is manual whereas in commercial farming, minimal manual labour is involved and machines do most of the work.

Subsistence farming can be further classified into two types: Intensive subsistence farming and Primitive subsistence farming.

In intensive subsistence farming, farmers use simple tools, such as spades and ploughs, and manual labour to cultivate a small plot of land. Intensive subsistence farming is practiced in areas having fertile soil and receiving plenty of sunshine throughout the year. For example, it is practiced in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Intensive subsistence farming is practised by farmers in the monsoon regions of south, southeast and east Asia. It is more common in the thickly populated areas in these regions. Rice is the main crop grown through intensive farming in addition to wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds on the same plot of land.

Primitive subsistence farming can be further classified into: Shifting cultivation and Nomadic herding.
In shifting cultivation farmers temporarily use a plot of land for cultivation and then abandon it when the soil loses its fertility. This farming system is common in areas where the rainfall is heavy and the vegetation can regenerate rapidly. It is practiced in the dense forest areas of north-east India, parts of south-east Asia, tropical Africa and the Amazon basin.

This type of farming is also known as slash and burn agriculture owing to the process. The crops grown here are maize, yam, potatoes and cassava.

Nomadic herding is a form of animal farming where herdsmen move from one place to another with their animals, fodder and water, following defined routes. It is practiced in semi-arid and arid areas like Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir Sahara and Central Asia.
The nomads rear sheeps, goats, camels and yaks and these animals provide milk, meat, wool, hides to the herdsmen.

Commercial farming is of three types: Commercial grain farming, Mixed farming and Plantations. Commercial grain farming, is the cultivation of crops for commercial purposes where crops are grown for sale in the market. This type of farming is common in the sparsely populated areas of the temperate grasslands of North America, Europe and Asia. The main crops grown are wheat and maize.

In mixed farming, the same plot of land is used for cultivating crops and rearing livestock. Farmers cultivate food crops like rice and wheat, and fodder crops like barley and grass. This type of farming is common in Europe, parts of eastern USA, Argentina, southeast Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Plantation refers to large farms or estates growing a single crop for commercial usage. This type requires a large amount of labour, and capital investment in building an extensive transportation network. Plantations involve the cultivation of crops like tea, sugarcane and rubber for supply to agro-based industries as raw material.

The produce from these plantations, like tea leaves and rubber latex, are processed to produce market-ready output, i.e. tea and rubber sheets. Plantations are common in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, like India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Brazil.

Major Crops

Crops are plants that are grown and harvested for eating or selling. On the basis of usage, crops are classified into three types: Crops grown for food, Beverage Crops, and Crops grown for agro-based industries. These include fibre crops.

The Crops which are grown for food are called food crops like rice, wheat, millets and maize. Every food crop needs a specific environment and geographical conditions to grow and thrive. Hence different crops are produced at different places.

Rice is the main component of people’s diet in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. This is because rice crops show best yield with high temperature, high humidity and rainfall. Alluvial clayey soil is the best for growing rice as it can retain water.

China is the leading producer of rice, followed by India which together account for half of the world’s total rice production. Japan, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Bangladesh are the other major producers of rice.
In, the climatic conditions enable farmers to grow other crops as well in a year, such as pulses.

Wheat requires a well-drained loamy soil. This crop grows best in moderate rainfall and moderate temperature and requires loads of sunshine in the harvest season. Hence, in India, wheat is sown in the winter season and harvested in the summer. Bangladesh, West Bengal, the Prairies of the USA, Canada, Russia, Australia and Pakistan are major producers of wheat.

Millets are also known as coarse grains and are available in the form of jowar, bajra and ragi in India. Millets grow well on soils of relatively low fertility or sandy soil and require low to adequate rainfall and temperatures ranging from high to moderate. Along with India other major producers of millets in the world are China, Niger and Nigeria.

Maize another popular food crop is commonly referred to as corn. The soil needs to be well drained and fertile for growing maize with moderate temperatures, moderate rainfall and abundance of sunshine. The major producers of maize in the world are: USA, Brazil, China, Mexico, India, Canada, and South Africa.

The major crops grown for agro-based industries are cotton and jute and are also known as fibre crops. Cotton is the main raw material for the cotton textile industry and owing to its light and airy texture, it is ideal for clothing.

A good yield of cotton requires: high temperatures, light rainfall, 210 frost-free days and plenty of sunlight. Black soil and alluvial soil are best suited for growing cotton. Hence, in India, cotton is mostly grown in parts of the Deccan Plateau. Apart from Indian the leading producers of cotton in the world are: China, The USA, Pakistan, Brazil and Egypt.

Jute on the other hand is golden in colour with a silky shine and is popularly known as the Golden Fibre. Jute requires high temperatures, plain alluvial soil, plenty of rainfall and a humid climate to thrive. India and Bangladesh are the primary providers of jute.

Beverage crops include crops like tea and coffee. Tea grows best in regions with a cool and humid climate, well-distributed rainfall through the year and well-drained soil, like the loamy soil. Hence tea planters need areas with sloping grounds as the slope ensures that water does not clog.

China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka are known to produce the finest tea in the world. Darjeeling tea is recognized by consumers worldwide for its unique flavor and quality.

Coffee is another popular beverage crop worldwide. Coffee grows well in: well-drained loamy soil and hilly slopes. The climate needs to be warm and wet like in subtropical regions. Brazil is the world leader in the production of coffee, followed by Columbia and India.
Agricultural Development and Comparative Study

Agricultural development refers to the steps taken to meet the increasing demands of people by improving and increasing farm production. Farm production can be increased by: improving irrigation facilities, promoting the use of high quality fertilizers and High Yield Value (HYV) seeds, increasing the farming area, increasing the number of crops grown on the farm in a year, and mechanization.

Mechanization is the use of machinery and equipment to perform various agricultural operations, like ploughing, irrigating, spraying pesticides, and harvesting.

Food security means when people across the world have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Developing countries with large populations like India, farmers practice intensive subsistence agriculture on small farm holdings. While developed countries like the USA, Canada and Australia practice commercial agriculture on large farm holdings.

Agricultural system

In India farmers have small farmlands of about 1.5 hectares on the outskirts of the village. Farmers buy high yielding seeds from the market to grow at least two crops a year which are usually food crops like rice, wheat and pulses.

The Indian farmer consults his elders and friends regarding the farming practices. However recently, they have started adopting farming practices suggested by local agricultural officers.

The new farming practices include using tractors for ploughing the fields which they can either purchase or take on rent. Some farmers can’t afford such facilities on rent as well and so continue faring with the traditional method i.e. bullocks for ploughing.

The main source of irrigation is a tube well near the field and they do not always take comprehensive pest control measures. Family members of the farmer help him in carrying out farming activities.
To supplement their income, some farmers also rear livestock, like buffaloes and hens and sell milk and eggs produced by these animals at the nearest available cooperative stores.

A cooperative society is a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or who work at it. The cooperative society guides these member farmers in taking care of their livestock.

The agricultural co-operative society, along with banks, serves in lending funds to the farmers to buy HYV seeds and farming implements. The farmers in India have to sell the produce themselves. They do not have adequate storage facilities and hence sell their produce at low price as they cannot afford the produce to get spoilt otherwise.

Therefore, farmers in developing countries, like India, operate on a low scale, use traditional methods for agricultural operations and rely on indefinite and temporary sources for the supply of essentials.

A farmer in the USA operates on a much larger scale and is more like a businessman. The farms are big, ranging from 250 to 300 hectares in size with their house on the farm. The crops grown include wheat, maize or corn, soybean, cotton and sugar beet.

The farmers in the USA analyze the type of soil and the water resources available and decide which crop to grow. They take adequate steps to protect their crop from pests as well.

Farmers in the USA regularly test the soil to check its fertility and nutrition level and use their computer to plan a fertilizer programme as per the results.

The fertilizer plant enables him to choose the best pesticides to protect his crops. His computer is linked to a satellite providing a complete picture of the field. As a result, the need for supplementing farming income does not arise.

Farmers in the USA rely heavily on machines, like tractors, seed drillers and levelers. They also have the advantage of automated grain storage facilities, and dispatch facilities to marketing agencies. The farmers can, therefore, bide their time and wait for a good price for their farm produce.

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