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Agricultural types and their distribution
It is difficult to classify the agricultural types of the world because of the complex farming activities, which includes growing of crops and raising of an animals. However, it is clear that various factors that influence agriculture are climate, relief and soil. Therefore different parts of the world are suitable for different type of agriculture.
Tropical Agriculture: The following types of farming are best developed in tropical latitudes:
a) Primitive subsistence Agriculture: On tropical lowlands and hill slopes, local people clear small patches of the rain forests and cultivate with only primitive implements a few crops sufficient for their own needs.
These can be divided into two parts: Migratory Primitive Agriculture and Sedentary Primitive Agriculture
Migratory Primitive Agriculture. The principal characteristic feature of the tropical rainy type of climate is the absence of pronounced dry season. In general, regions, having this type of climate are located in the equatorial belt, ranging a few degrees north and south of the equator. The regions where primitive subsistence agriculture is practiced are the Amazon lowland and Guiana coastal area of South America, the Congo basin and Guinea of Africa and the Australasian archipelago and the adjacent portions of Asia.
The environmental conditions of those regions have made the agriculture migratory in nature. Temperature is high with an average of 25°C-30°C. Relative humidity is generally high varying between 80 p.c. and 90 p.c. The annual average rainfall is between 175 cm 250 cm. Though rainfall is heavy, the percentage of sunshine is high. These factors favor the deep growth of vegetation. Due to heavy rainfall and high temperature throughout the year, the destruction of humus material tends to be faster than its formation. The soil is subject to continual and vigorous leaching which tends to remove the silica of the silicate minerals and leads to the formation of lateritic soil, which is the poorest soil in the world. Agricultural development has been retarded by the environmental factors.
The characteristic feature of migratory primitive agriculture is as the following:
(i) agriculture is confined to small, scattered areas within tropical rainforests and on margins of savannas and bushlands.
(ii) the clearing of land with the aid of fire,
(iii) the use of hand implements and human labour only,
(iv) no application of manures.
(v) absence of draft animals.
(vi) no private ownership of land. Land belongs to community, village or tribes.
(vii) each member of the community may use as much land as he can clear and cultivate,
(viii) before replanting, the lands are burned annually.
(ix) small production-not sufficient to leave any surplus.
(x) most areas of migratory primitive agriculture have a sparse population.
Much of the land cleared is devoted to crops as manioc, taros, peanuts, cucumbers, beans, bananas etc. Maize, millet and rice are raised in America, Africa and the Orient respectively.
Farming methods and implements are crude. The implements used are sharpened sticks, hoes spades and machetes, made of wood or iron. The lack of draft animals is an additional reason for shifting cultivation as the land cannot be fertilized without manures. The small amount of plant food in the soil can support crops for two to three-year period after which the land is abandoned. In the period between harvests the farmers adopt hunting, fishing and collect products from forests in order to supplement their food supply.
Thus migratory agriculture, known as Jhum in India, Milpa in Americas, Ladang in the East Indies, Clingain in the Philippines, is mainly associated with the sparsely populated parts of the tropical rainforest.
From the world point of view, such migratory primitive farming is not important though it supports about 75 per cent of the population living in the tropical rainforest areas.