The Term Agriculture

The Term Agriculture, Types, Branches and Importance

The Term Agriculture, types, branches and important: Agriculture is the art and science (or management) that deals with the cultivation of crops and the rearing of animals for man’s use. This means, it refers to all the activities involving cultivation of soil for the production of crops and livestock management to the distribution and marketing of the plant and animal products. The term agriculture is derived from two Latin words which are:
  • “Ager” which means field/farm/land.
  • “Culture” which means cultivation.

By this term, agriculture means field cultivation. However, this is not a complete definition of agriculture since agriculture also has to do with animal production.

The Term Agriculture is also the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plant and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets.

Agriculture provides most of the world’s food and fabrics. Cotton, wool, and leather are all agricultural products. Agriculture also provides wood for construction and paper products.

These products, as well as the agricultural methods used, may vary from one part of the world to another.

The Two  Main Types of Agriculture

  • Subsistence agriculture

Subsistence agriculture is defined as the type of agriculture which is concerned with the production of food (cultivation of crops and rearing of animals) by the farmer to feed himself and his family only. It is also known as peasant farming because it is practiced by poor farmers. It is done on a small scale and involves the use of crude tools (e.g., cutlass, hoe, axe, etc.) only.

  • Commercial agriculture 

Commercial agriculture is the type of agriculture which is concerned with the production of food and cash crops in large quantities for sale. It is done on a large scale because commercial farmers are rich farmers. Complex farm machines like tractors, bulldozers, planters, harvesters, ectara used.

Difference Between Subsistence and Commercial Agriculture

Subsistence Commercial
1. Produce mainly for the family with little or no excess.  Products are principally for sale
2. Practiced on small area of land. Practiced on large area of land.
3. Family labour is used Skilled and mechanized labour is employed
4. Traditional management is employed. Modern or scientific management is employed.
5. Production is on small scale Production is on large scale
6. Cost of production is low. Cost of production is high.
7. Does not need organized market for the sales of its products. Need well organized market for sales of its products.
8. Operation results in low environmental degradation. Operation results in high environmental degradation.
9. Provide direct employment for many citizens. Skilled people are employed for different tasks.
10. Engages in mixed-cropping. Often engages in mono-cropping.
11. No specialization, since the farmer produces different types of crops and rears different classes of farm animals. Farmer specializes in the production of fewer crops and animals rearing.
12. Has no access to credit facilities. Has access to credit facilities.

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Branches of Agriculture

The branches of Agriculture include the following:

  • Animal Science/Animal Husbandry/Animal Production: Animal Science ensures the efficient and effective management of farm animals. It ensures better animal productivity.
  • Veterinary Medicine/Animal Health: Veterinary medicine provides a better health management for farm animals. It ensures the control of pests, parasites and diseases of farm animals.
  • Soil Science: Soil science ensures the maintenance of soil fertility, better soil classification and mapping. It also helps in erosion control, soil moisture conservation and application of appropriate fertilizer for different soil types.
  • Crop Production/Crop Science: Crop production helps in effective crop management practices, development of better planting materials, correct crop spacing, etc. The aspects of crop production include: Agronomy, Crop Pathology and Entomology.
  • Agricultural Economics and Farm Management: It ensures the effective management of agricultural resources, promotes agricultural marketing and good farm accounting.
  • Agricultural Engineering: It promotes the mechanization of farm operations, development of processing and storage equipment and also maintenance of farm tools and equipment.
  • Agricultural Extension and Education: It promotes the training and dissemination of agricultural information to farmers, and also link farmers to researchers.
  • Forestry and Wildlife Conservation: It promotes the conservation of forest products, wildlife and also creation of micro climate.
  • Fishery: It promotes the production of fish, its management, processing and other fishing Practices.
  • Apiculture/Bee Farming: It promotes the production of honey for local consumption/uses.
  • Heliculture/Snailry: It involves the production of snails for consumption as a source of protein and minerals.

Importance of Agriculture

Agriculture is important in the society in many ways, including: supporting livelihoods through food, habitat, and jobs; providing raw materials for food and other products; and building strong economies through trade. Other importance of agriculture include:

  1. PROVISION OF FOOD: – Agriculture provides food such as maize, rice, yam, vegetables, fruits, meat, and milk, either in fresh form or processed form for man and farm animals.
  2. SOURCE OF MATERIALS FOR CLOTHING: Agriculture provides fibre and cotton for textile production. It also provides hides and skin for clothing, shoes, belts, caps, and bags.
  3. PROVISION OF MATERIALS FOR SHELTER AND FURNITURE: – Agriculture provides timber for making building materials such as doors, windows, roofs, poles e. t. c. Timber is also used for making furniture such as shelves, cabinets, tables, chairs e. t. c.
  4. PROVISION OF INCOME: – Agriculture generates income for farmers and farm labour through sales of plants and animal produce and wages or salaries.
  5. EMPLOYMENT FOR THE WORKING POPULATION: – Agriculture and other agro-based industries provide employment for farmers, farm workers and other people who engage in agricultural finance and marketing.
  6. PROVISION OF RAW MATERIALS FOR INDUSTRIES: – Agriculture provides raw materials for agro-based industries (industries which depend on agriculture for their raw-materials). It provides cotton and wool for textile industries, cocoa, coffee, tea and kola nut for beverage industries, rubber latex for tyres and foams industries etc.
  7. SOURCES OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE: – Agriculture contributes significantly to foreign exchange earning in Nigeria through the export of cocoa, coffee, groundnut, cotton, palm produce, timber e. t. c. to other countries.
  8. PROVISION OF MARKET FOR INDUSTRIAL GOODS: – Finished products from agro-allied industries such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, agro-pharmaceutical drugs, farm tools, machines as well as storage and processing facilities are used in agricultural sector.
  9. DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL AREAS: – Agriculture brings about development in rural areas as social amenities such as good roads, electricity, pipe-borne water, schools and hospitals are provided where commercial agriculture exists.
  10. PROVISION OF FACILITIES FOF RECREATION AND TOURISM: – Agriculture leads to the establishment of game reserves. It also provides horse for horse racing and polo.

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