Secondary 4 Pure Geography Human Geography (2235/2) Sec 4 Chapter 13 Intensity of Food ProductionEnquiry questions:1) What has caused food production to do so well?2) How do you intensify food production?3) What are some of the events that have boosted the agricultural industry?Content: Factors affecting intensity of food production with reference to relevant examples o Physical (relief, soils and climate) o Social (land tenure and land fragmentation) o Economic (demand and capital) o Political (government policy) o Technological advances (Green Revolution and Blue Revolution)Learning objectives: Be able to explain the factors affecting the intensity of food production.Key terms: Productivity in food production: a measure of the amount of food produced compared with the amount of resources (land and labour) used to produced the food. Productivity is higher when the labour per unit area is low or the output per unit area is high.
Secondary 4 Pure Geography Human Geography (2235/2) Sec 4 Chapter 13 What affects the intensity of food production?Section I: Introduction Food shortages are common and it is necessary to know how to get more from the land. Finding more land is definitely not a long-term solution for farmers in LDCs.Section II: Factors affecting intensity1) Physical factorsa) Relief The relief of a piece of land does affect the productivity of a plot of land. Generally, crops grow better on flat land which retains water better, has less soil erosion and makes the use of machinery easier. By having the farmland on flat land, the productivity of a plot of land increases. However, some crops require certain types of land, other than flat land. For example, o tea grows well in cooler climates and well-drained soil and this means that tea has to be grow on highlands.b) Soil The type of soil and the fertility of the soil also affects the productivity of the land. Some crops require certain conditions of the soil in order to grow well. For example, o wet rice requires wet and clayey soil, cauliflowers require slightly alkaline soil and garlic requires deep and well-drained soil with lime. As such, if the conditions for the growth of these crops are fulfilled in the land, the productivity of the land increases. The more fertile the soil is, the higher the productivity of the land. The fertility of the soil depends on the amount of air, water and nutrients which largely impacts the growth and health of the crops produced. Fertile soil is usually found near floodplains, deltas and volcanoes where alluvium and weathered volcanic ash provide lots of nutrients and the need for fallowing decreases. For example, o many farmers congregate near the Nile Delta, Ganges floodplains and Mt Merapi which has extremely fertile soil to reap more harvests. However, the limit to arable land (eg. land is 86% mountainous in Japan) is one problem.
c) Climate Generally, output is higher when there is high temperatures and high rainfall. With high temperatures and high and constant rainfall which is characteristic of places with tropical climates, two or more successive crops per year can be obtained. However, there are some crops that do not require so much rain to grow. For example, o potatoes require less water hence they can be grown in the temperate regions, where temperatures and rainfall is lower than in tropics. If a plot of land happens to plant a crop that is suited to the climate, productivity will be high. For example, o if sugarcane was grown in a place with hot and wet climate, the output will be greater than that if it was grown in a place with cool and dry climate. o if salmon farms were located near the equator, the output will be a lot less than that if salmon farms were located in temperature countries (eg. USA, Chile). However, poor climates caused by desertification and lack of water and El Nino causes the productivity to be severely affected.2) Social factorsa) Land fragmentation Land fragmentation causes productivity to decrease. In traditional societies, it is common practice for a father to divide his land equally among his children. As the generations pass, the fragmented pieces of land become smaller and smaller. Such small plots render machinery such as tractors cost-ineffective. Hence the productivity falls as more people are required to work on the field. Land fragmentation can also occur when governments distribute farmlands equally to the people, resulting in small plots of land unsuitable for proper cultivation.b) Land tenure When the land tenure system is practised, productivity is usually low. Share cropping which involves farmers giving two-thirds of their harvest to land owners in exchange for the farmland is extremely demoralising and demotivating. This makes farmers unmotivated to work hard to earn more than the rental. However, recently farmers have switched to the fixed rental system where they only have to pay a fixed rental amount per month. As such, they get to enjoy whatever excess that they get and this is more motivating than share cropping. This results in increasing productivity but only but a little bit.
3) Economic factorsa) Demand When demand is high, farmers try to produce more to earn more. A high demand for food will encourage food producers to increase their output and productivity, so that they can earn more money by selling crops, fish or livestock. For example, o cassava production is high as there is demand as cassava biofuels in China. o coffee is a highly traded commodity which people are willing to pay for. As such, when coffee production was introduced to India and Indonesia, the production rates grew rapidly to fuel the demand of coffee in Europe. However, capitalisation of agriculture when growing cash crops over subsistence food crops and the rising demand for biofuel crops make the supply of food crops rather unstable.b) Capital The greater the capital, the higher the intensity of food production. Capital is vital for producers to buy machines to help with fieldwork and to buy fertilisers and pesticides to improve the yield. Without capital, like in LDCs, it is impossible to have such machinery hence it is hard to achieve high food production and hence high productivity without the machines. For example, o in commercial fishing, fishermen are able to increase productivity by using equipment such as acoustic sonar to detect large schools of fish. Capital is also needed to be invested in research and development to improve output.4) Political factorsa) Government policies Government policies play a huge role in intensifying food production. The government decides how resources, such as money and land, are to be used in order to bring about greater development in the country especially in the agricultural sector. For example, o Singapore has scarce land for traditional farming. In the 1980s, the government decided to move towards agrotech (ie. aeroponics and hydroponics) as more crops are grown in a small area. As such the Singapore government provide seed money for high-tech farms to be built in Lim Chu Kang to increase self-sufficiency for national defence. Governments can also build new farming facilities such as irrigation canals and provide loans and subsidies to farmers so that they would be more productive. In USA, they practise scorch-earth policies (disposing excess crops to stabilise prices) while some countries only support farming of certain crops (eg. oil palms in Malaysia).
5) Technological factorsa) Green Revolution The Green Revolution was the first systematic attempt to introduce modern technology to LDCs such as high yielding varieties (HYVs) of crops, chemical fertilisers and pesticides and modern irrigation methods. Firstly, the development of improved strains of cereals was one key part of the GR. The improved strains of rice were developed by cross-breeding a broad range of existing cereal strains. The HYVs are developed to have different traits (eg. pest resistance, shorter growth duration) depending on the needs of the farmers. For example, o one type of HYV is IR58. It was known as the ‘wonder rice’ of the 1980s and is resistant to most pests and diseases. It only takes 100 days to mature as compared to the 180 day growing period for traditional rice. This allows 3 harvests per year given good weather and proper irrigation instead of 1 harvest per year last time. o due to the introduction of HYVs to LDCs, China’s rice output more than doubled from 1961 to 1992 and Indonesia’s rice output increased by 84 percent from 1970 to 1990. This has led to massive increase in food production in the area of cereals. However, critics suggest that it will widen the income gap between rich and poor as only the rich can buy such HYVs to earn more. The poor who cannot afford will remain poor. Machinery will also replace men on the fields (ie. 1 machine replace 100 men on field), resulting in rural-urban migration and squatter formations. Secondly, the introduction of modern irrigation1 methods was a part in GR. Man-made dykes, dams and canals were constructed to divert water from water sources like rivers and reservoirs to farms. Then with automated irrigation systems such as water sprinklers and sluice gates could control the amount of water for watering the farms. Lastly, the introduction of the use of chemicals was a major part in GR. Fertilisers are added to replace the lost nutrients during the previous phase of farming. This reduces the need to allow the land to fallow as the nutrients the plants need (eg. N, P, K, B, Cu and Fe) are found in the fertilisers used. Pesticides are used to kill insects and animals that eat the crops which reduces the yield. For example, o in India, arsenic is used to poison rats that attack rice crops. Herbicides are used to prevent the growth of weeds that compete for nutrients. Weed- removing is time consuming hence herbicides are sprayed on the soil. However, herbicides may cause superweeds to form that are resistant to the herbicides.1 Irrigation is the practice of supplying water to the land through artificial means
b) Blue Revolution The Blue Revolution encouraged fish farming to reduce the dependency on fishing from the oceans where fish populations are dwindling. Fries (baby fish) hatched in hatcheries are released into the sea to raise some fish stocks. There is also better fish food for the fries as by products of wheat and canola are recycled as fish feed for fish farms. The health and nutrition of fish was also improved through improving water quality, breeding conditions, animal behaviour, health and nutritional requirements. Due to the dependency of 20% of the population on seafood as their source of animal protein, there is a need to ensure that fish is enough for the increasing demand of fish (which has double from 1950s to the late 1990s). Growth in demand is expected to be 10% a year, compared to 2.8% for meat in the US. Singapore produces high value seafood in its fish farms to increase self-sufficiency. Currently, Singapore consumes 89 000 tonnes of fresh fish a year. The Blue Revolution has ensured a stable supply of fish so that the price of fish falls to affordable levels.