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World Resources: Agriculture
Etymologically the word agriculture is derived as follows: -
ager means field or soil; and cultura means the care of or the tilling of. But agriculture is more than mere tilling of the field. Agriculture includes all productive efforts, which are undertaken by man, having a relatively permanent settlement to expedite and to improve upon the growth of vegetable and animal products for the benefit of man. The object of agriculture is to raise crops and plants and to help their growth by supplying better seeds, better manures and required amount of water. It is the most important and man's oldest industry in which climate, soil and topography are dominant factors.
The importance of agriculture hardly needs any mention since about 70% of the world's population is engaged in farming-either the growing of crops or the rearing of animals. But the percentage of employment is a widely varied phenomenon. Approximately 2% of the total employed persons are engaged in agriculture in the U.K. 8% in West Germany. 15% in Japan. 58% in India, 95% in Guinea. Though the percentage of employment in agriculture is inversely related to the level of development.' it is difficult to accept that Japan is less developed than the U.K. or West Germany. Generalization can, however, be made in the broader sense of the term.
Factors of Growth. With the variation in the distribution of temperature, rainfall and soil conditions, the quality and quantity of agricultural production differ. In the areas of heavy rainfall and high temperature of the wet equatorial region, the type of agriculture differs from the type found in the monsoon lards or in the deserts or semi-deserts. Plant requires a. monthly average temperature of 6°C. If the monthly average falls below 6°C plants will dies out, as due to extreme cold the moisture would be turned into ice. Continuous excessive temperature is also harmful to the plant, because excessive heat would lead to high rate of perspiration of plants.
Farming methods and cropping systems depend on climate. Besides climate, topography and soil, capital. Government policy, level of scientific and technological development, method of land utilization, transport facilities and nearness to market are essential to give agriculture a distinct place in any economy. Nearness to market means the facilities present to put agricultural products in certain markets at a. reasonable price. Cost of labour is also an important economic factor influencing agricultural production
Nature of agriculture. The nature of agriculture is such that the productivity of soil diminishes with every increase in cultivation. This tendency is due to the law of diminishing returns. For the time being the operation of the law may be checked by adequate application of manures and by adopting rotation crops.
Man, to a limited extent, can modify the factors of physical environment. By large capital outlay and the various irrigation works may be constructed so as to provide water supply to land where drought conditions prevail. Even man can create an entirely artificial environment for the purpose of crop production. But that will be a costly affair. As such most of the agricultural products are grown under natural conditions over which man has very little control. At the best man can try to improve the soil conditions by resorting to various scientific methods. Climate, topography and soil are, therefore, prime factors in agricultural production.
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