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What Is Agriculture?
Agriculture, also called farming or husbandry,
is the cultivation of animals,
plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber,
biofuel and other products used to sustain human
– All humans depend on agriculture for food
– Urban-industrial societies depend on the base of
food surplus generated by farmers and herders
– Without agriculture there could be no cities,
universities, factories, or offices
• Agriculture—the principal enterprise of
humankind through most of recorded history
– Today remains the most important economic
activity in the world
– Employs 45 percent of the working population
– In some parts of Asia and Africa, over 80 percent
of labor force is engaged in agriculture
What is Modern Agriculture?
Modern agriculture is a term used to describe the wide type of
production practices employed by American farmers.
It makes use of hybrid seeds of selected variety of a single crop,
technologically advanced equipment and lots of energy subsidies in the
form of irrigation water,fertilizers and pestisides.
• More than 90% of farmers today work using the most innovative
practices and growing techniques to produce enough food, fuel and
fiber for a growing world, while minimizing their environmental
footprint at the same time.
• The term “modern agriculture” depicts their commitment to
innovation, stewardship and meeting the global food challenge all at
once – there is nothing conventional about that
Perhaps the most important difference between the categories is the
way farmers see themselves and their roles. Traditional farmers, for
example, often say that they seek to work effectively with resources at
hand. That is, they use the land, rainfall, seeds, tillage methods and
power sources they have to produce what nature offers. Conventional
processes are used to till the land, select and plant seeds, protect plants
from competing plants and animals and gather the harvest. Surpluses
are marketed through nearby outlets. Such producers frequently report
only limited capacity to change these processes—and some seek to
Why Modern Agriculture is Important?
• By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to nearly
nine billion – the equivalent of two more China’s – while the
ratio of arable land to population continues to decrease.
• The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predicts
that global food production will double by 2050, and 70 percent
of the world’s additional food needs can be produced only by
adapting new agricultural technologies.
• In view of all these challenges, modern agriculture enables farmers to
utilize new innovations, research and scientific advancements to
produce safe, sustainable and affordable food
Why Modern Agriculture is Important?
• The significant hunger and malnutrition that persist in many parts of
the world would have been far worse had agricultural systems not
grown and developed as they did .
• More people the world over eat more and better because of modern
agriculture. Increased production continues to enable steadily
improving diets, reflecting increased availability of all foods, dietary
diversity and access to high-protein food products .
Types of Agriculture
• Subsistence farming, or subsistence agriculture, is a mode
of agriculture in which a plot of land produces only
enough food to feed the family or small community
• SF – the provision of food by farmers only for their own
family or the local community without any surplus.
• Commercial farming - The production of crops
for sale, crops intended for widespread
distribution to wholesalers or retail outlets
(e.g. supermarkets), and any non-food crops
such as cotton and tobacco.
• Includes livestock production and livestock
grazing. Commercial agriculture does not
include crops grown for household
consumption (e.g backyard garden or from a
vegetable garden or a few fruit trees.)
• Occurs on a large, profit making scale. These
farmers seek to maximize yields per hectare.
Major contrasts between “modern” and
“smallholder” rice farming
• Modern Farming:
• Smallholder farming:
Large / intermediate scale
• Capital intensive
Small – variable scale
Self sufficiency – surplus
(seeds, manure, compost, et
• Labour intensive
Modern Agricultural Revolutions
Technology allows much greater production
(surplus) with less human labor, but has high
social and environmental costs.
Metal plows, Reapers, Cotton Gin
Tractors (Internal Combustion Engine)
The Green Revolution
Genetically modified crops
The industrialization of agriculture
Modern commercial farming is very dependent on
inputs of chemical fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides.
Oil is required to make fertilizer and pesticides.
It takes 10 calories of energy to create 1 calorie of
food in modern agriculture.
Small farmer can’t buy needed equipment and
Fewer than 2% of U.S. population works in
Vegetation “slashed” and then burned.
Soil remains fertile for 2-3 years. Then
people move on.
where: tropical rainforests. Amazon,
Central and West Africa, Southeast Asia
Crops: upland rice (S.E. Asia), maize and
manioc (S. America), millet and
Declining at hands of ranching and
The breeding and herding of
domesticated animals for
Somali Nomad and Tent
where: arid and semi-arid areas of N.
Africa, Middle East, Central Asia
animals: Camel, Goats, Sheep, Cattle
transhumance: seasonal migrations
from highlands to lowlands
Most nomads are being pressured into
sedentary life as land is used for
agriculture or mining.
• Mixed Crop and
• Dairy Farming
• Grain Farming
• Livestock Ranching
• Truck Farming
North Dakota Potato and Wheat Fields
Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming
Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming
Where: Ohio to Dakotas, centered on Iowa; much of
Europe from France to Russia
crops: corn (most common), soybeans
In U.S. 80% of product fed to pigs and cattle
Highly inefficient use of natural resources
Pounds of grain to make 1 lb. beef: 10
Gallons of water to make 1 1b wheat: 25
Gallons of water to make 1 1b. beef: 2500
Where: near urban areas in United States,
Southeast Canada, Europe
Locational Theory: butter and cheese more common
than milk with increasing distance from cities and
milkshed: historically defined by spoilage
threat; refrigerated trucks changed this.
Dairy Farm, Wisconsin
Where: areas surrounding the Mediterranean,
California, Oregon, Chile, South Africa,
Climate has summer dry season. Landscape is
• crops: olives, grapes, nuts, fruits and
vegetables; winter wheat
• California: high quality land is being lost to
suburbanization; initially offset by irrigation
Truck Farming: Commercial
Gardening and Fruit Farming
Where: U.S. Southeast, New England, near
cities around the world
• crops: high profit vegetables and fruits
demanded by wealthy urban populations:
apples, asparagus, cherries, lettuce, tomatoe
• mechanization: such truck farming is highly
mechanized and labor costs are further
reduced by the use of cheap immigrant (and
• distribution: situated near urban markets.
A greenhouse (also called a glasshouse) is a building in
which plants are grown with perfect climatic conditions.
Used to overcome shortcomings in the growing qualities of
a piece of land, such as a short growing season or poor light
levels, and they can thereby improve food production in
Paddy rice farming
• Draft animals—water buffalo—used more by farmers
• Japanese have mechanized paddy rice farming
• Green Revolution
– Achieved by introducing hybrid rice during the last
half of the twentieth century
– Chemical fertilizers introduced
– Heightened productivity achieved
Paddy rice farming
• Most paddy rice farms outside Communist area of Asia are
– Three acre plot is considered adequate to support a farm
– Irrigated rice provides a large output of food per unit of
– Small patches must be intensively tilled to harvest enough
– Small rice sprouts carefully transplanted by hand from
seed beds to paddy
– Double-cropping—harvest same parcel of land two or
three times each year
– Apply large amounts of organic fertilizer
– Per-acre yields exceed those of American agriculture
The last 150 years has witnessed a huge shift in the
U.S.’s connection with agriculture.
In 1900, 70 to 80 percent of Americans made their
living from the land. In 2012, that number has went
down to less than 2 percent.
We now import many of our fruits and vegetables
from foreign borders.
New technology like pesticides and mechanical farm
equipments make it possible to grow large amounts
of food with relatively few human hands.
• During the latter half of the twentieth
century, what is known today as modern
agriculture was very successful in meeting a
growing demand for food by the world's
• Yields of primary crops such as rice and wheat
increased dramatically, the price of food
declined, the rate of increase in crop yields
generally kept pace with population growth and
the number of malnourished people was
Removal of buffers to make large fields for
maximum efficiency leading to lower food
costs and greater food availability to the poor.
It limits the natural habitat of some wild
creatures and can lead to soil erosion.
Use of fertilizers can alter the biology of rivers
Some environmentalists attribute the hypoxic
zone in the Gulf of Mexico as being
encouraged by nitrogen fertilization of the
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SUBSISTENCE &
Proportion of output sold off the farm
Destination of foods
Local direct consumption & some
High proportion processed & to food
Legumes, ash, bones, manure
Crop rotations, intercropping
Insecticides, fungicides, break crops
Origin of inputs
iii. Pest control
Implements & tools
Rotations, hoeing, use of plough
Hoe, plough, sickle, scythe
From own harvest
Grass & fodder crops grown on
Machinery, often self-propelled
Purchased from seed merchants
Purchased from compound feed mixers
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SUBSISTENCE &
Prime aim to provide family food
Land & labour main inputs, few
Diversity of crops grown
Aims at maximising gross output &
yield per acre
Prime aim avoidance of risk;
reluctant to innovate
Capital & land major inputs; labour a
Aims at maximising output per head &
minimising production costs
• The term sustainable agriculture means an integrated
system of plant and animal production practices having
a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
– satisfy human food and fiber needs;
– enhance environmental quality and the natural resource
base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
– make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and
on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural
biological cycles and controls;
– sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
– enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a
Modern Agriculture Supposed to be
Modern agricultural practices enable farmers to meet ALL three
goals of sustainability: conserve and protect natural resources;
meet the food and fuel needs of a growing population; and
be financially viable for both growers and consumers.
SUSTAINABLE TRADITIONAL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES USED IN THE
• Intercropping & polyculture: symbiotic relations
‘tween plants (shade, rooting systems), plant
diversity encourages natural biological control of
insect pests, provides year round food supply.
• Crop rotation w/ legumes: helps retain soil fertility &
year round food supply, (rotations involve red
peas, gungo peas, cowpeas, string beans etc)
• Spatial organisation of crops in fields: strip
cropping, grass barriers, contour planting – all
contribute to soil conservation, planting trees to act
as wind breaks
• Fallowing: helps restore soil fertility if sufficient time
elapses, helps maintain vegetative cover to reduce
• Mulching: helps reduce evapotranspiration & soil
loss from wind erosion, adds nutrients to
soil, minimises the impact of splash erosion.
• Ramming, fly penning: integrates crops & livestock
into household production, reduces potential
erosion by trampling, animal faeces manures the
• Kitchen gardens & food forests: traditional types of
• Silvo-pasture: combining food trees w/ pasture e.g.
coconuts & cattle.
THE FARMERS’ SUCIDE AND NAXALISM
In the same village, with similar land condition, with same crop, one farmer makes profits,
The other commits suicide
Not all farmers commit suicide
The young farmers are educated
They take other means and wed Naxalism
Naxalism not a new movement but has taken new roots in many parts of the country.
In 2003 – 55 districts, 2004 – 150 districts, 2006 – 170 district – 1/3 of the country covered.
Young persons prefer brutalism rather than committing suicide even if that has risk to their
• Naxalism is a major challenge to democratic system.
• Problem not only of agriculture but is a time bomb clicking which can damage the basic fabric
of our constitution
• Over all economy growing – but Agriculture left behind. Agri occupies 60% of total working
population disparities between rural and urban growing
• With Agri sector some are growing and others left behind.
THE PAST EXPERIENCE
Past experience of early 70s
Green revolution brought fruits to farmers, but poor small and marginal farmers did
There were riots in rural areas of our country
The Government of India introduced special programme for assistance of small and
marginal farmers – SFDA programme.(1975-80)
This was followed by Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). (1980)
National Extension Programme also strengthened.
Focus on individual poor family, particularly farmers and artisans. VLW responsible
for providing technical assistance to poor farmers.
Special subsidy provided to obtain productive assets and inputs with back up bank
credit. The programme has great success –poverty decline – small and marginal
But there were left out more than 20% on average
In some areas this proportion is more.
The left-out of development process needed continuous attention.
THE LEFT OUT OF DEVELOPMENT
In 90s, focus of IRDP programme shifted
Focus changed to non-farm activities
It obtained new banner of SgSy & SgRy
Poor farmers no longer received special individual attention.
Programme moved to non farm activities, Self Help Groups
The farmers left out of development process, not paid attention and
continued to remain poor.
This is a very large segment
NSSO report on farmers indicated high debt ratio
The VLWs and Extension team did not bother about poor farmers.
Focus shifted to farmers who can obtain assistance on their own.
FINDINGS BY NSS-59TH ROUND PUBLISHED IN JULY 2005
All India Level
Awareness of technical and institutional development
Farmers liking farming
Using testing Labs for seeds, fertilizer etc
Accessing knowledge about technology
From Extension Administration
Extension Administration did not bother about poor farmers
Lack of control on quality seeds and inputs and basic
guidance for selection of crop to be grown in rain fed areas
based on soil health.
There can be many other reasons like mortgage of land by
farmers to private money lenders/local dealers and so on and
Left out poor farmers don’t have access to new technology and
Poor farmers started copying the wealthy farmers who had
water resource and new technology, and failed.
Result – farmers suicide
An upside to slash-and-burn
According to Kricher, a study in Costa Rica demonstrated that slash and
burn does not, in the short run, degrade the soil. Researcher
cut, mulched, and burned a site that contained patches of eight- to nineyear-old forest and seventy-year-old forest. Before the burn there were
approximately 8,000 seeds per square meter of soil, representing 67
species. After the burn the figure dropped to 3,000 seeds/square
meter, representing 37 species. Mycorrhizal fungi survived the
burn, and large quantities of nutrients were released to the soil
following burning. The remaining seeds sprouted, and vegetation
regrew vigorously on the site
THE GUJARAT EXPERIENCE - III
Gujarat provides a replicable experience
It is against this background that experiences of Gujarat of last four years
need to be seen.
Gujarat has achieved sustainable agricultural growth at an average of 11%
per annum in recent years.(2001-05)
Gujarat, despite constraints of arid and semi arid agro climatic regions and
uncertain monsoons, has become number one state in the country in
Gujarat does not have any suicide by farmers on account of crop failure. It
does not have Naxalite areas. Initial efforts to spread it in district like Dangs
It is important to realize that prior to year 2000, Gujarat’s agriculture had
growth but it was slow. It had a number of years with negative growth.
After 2000, the situation changed. Agriculture became stable and picked up