NCERT Notes for Class 8 | Agriculture

Three types of economic activities : These are primary, secondary and tertiary activities. Primary activities include all those connected with extraction and production of natural resources. Agriculture, fishing and gathering are good examples. Secondary activities are concerned with the processing of these resources. Manufacturing of steel, baking of bread and weaving of cloth are examples of this activity. Tertiary activities provide support to the primary and secondary sectors through services. Transport, trade, banking, insurance and advertising are examples of tertiary activities.

Agriculture : It includes growing crops, fruits, vegetables, flowers and rearing of livestock. In the world, 50 per cent of persons are engaged in agricultural activity. Two-thirds of India’s population is still dependent on agriculture. Favourable topography of soil and climate are vital for agricultural activity. The land on which the crops are grown is known as arable land.

Viticulture : Cultivation of grapes.
Horticulture : Growing vegetables, flowers and fruits for commercial use.
Sericulture : Commercial rearing of silk worms.

Types of Farming 
Farming is practised in various ways across the world. Depending upon the geographical conditions, demand of produce, labour and level of technology, farming can be classified into two main types. These are subsistence farming and commercial farming.

Subsistence Farming : This type of farming is practised to meet the needs of the  farmer’s family. Traditionally, low levels of technology and household labour are used to produce on small output. Subsistence farming can be further classified  as intensive subsistence and primitive subsistence farming.

Intensive subsistence agriculture : Farmer cultivates a small plot of land using simple tools and  more labour. Climate with large number of days with sunshine and fertile soils permit growing of more than one crop annually on the same plot. Rice is the main crop. Other crops include wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds. Intensive subsistence agriculture is prevalent in the thickly populated areas of the monsoon regions of south, southeast and east Asia.

Organic Farming : In this type of farming,  organic manure and natural pesticides  are used instead of chemicals. No genetic modification is done  to increase the yield of the crop.

Primitive subsistence agriculture : It includes shifting cultivation and nomadic herding. Shifting cultivation is practised in the thickly forested areas of Amazon basin, tropical Africa, parts of southeast Asia and Northeast India. These are the areas of heavy rainfall and quick regeneration of vegetation. A plot of land is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. The ashes are then mixed with the soil and crops like maize, yam, potatoes and cassava are grown. After the soil loses its fertility, the land is abandoned and the cultivator moves to a new plot. Shifting cultivation is also known as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. Shifting cultivation
is known as Jhumming in North-East India.

Nomadic herding is practised in the semi-arid and arid regions of Sahara, Central Asia and some parts of India, like Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. In this type of farming, herdsmen move from place to place with their animals for fodder and water,  along defined routes. This type of movement arises in response to climatic constraints and terrain.

Commercial Farming : In commercial farming crops are grown and animals are reared for sale in market. The area cultivated and the amount of capital used is large. Most of the work is done by machines.

Major Crops
Major food crops are wheat, rice, maize and millets. Jute and cotton are fibre crops. Important beverage crops are tea and coffee.

Rice: Rice is the major food crop of the world. It is the staple diet of the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Rice needs high temperature, high humidity and rainfall. It grows best in alluvial clayey soil, which can retain water. China leads in the production of rice followed by India. In favourable climatic conditions as in West Bengal and Bangladesh two to three crops a year are grown.

Wheat: Wheat requires moderate temperature and rainfall during growing season and bright sunshine at the time of harvest. It thrives best in well drained loamy soil. In India it is grown in winter.

Millets: They are also known as coarse grains (cholam) and can be grown on less fertile and sandy soils. It is a hardy crop that needs low rainfall and high to moderate temperature and adequate rainfall. Jowar, bajra and ragi are grown in India. India is the highest producer of Millets.

Maize: Maize requires moderate temperature, rainfall and lots of sunshine. It needs  well-drained fertile soils. Maize is also know as corn.

Cotton: Cotton requires high temperature, light rainfall, two hundred and ten frost-free days and bright sunshine for its growth. It grows best on black and alluvial  soils. It is one of the main raw materials for the cotton textile industry.

Jute: Jute was also known as the ‘Golden Fibre’. It grows well on alluvial soil and requires high temperature, heavy rainfall and humid climate. This crop is grown in  the tropical areas. India and Bangladesh are the leading producers of jute.

Coffee: Coffee requires warm and wet climate and welldrained loamy soil. Hill slopes are more suitable for growth of this crop. Brazil is the leading producer followed by Columbia and India.

Tea: Tea is a beverage crop grown on plantations. This requires cool climate and well distributed high rainfall throughout the year for the growth of its tender leaves. It needs well-drained loamy soils and gentle slopes. Labour in large number is required to pick the leaves. Kenya, India, China, Sri Lanka produce the best quality tea in the world.

Food security : It means when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The ultimate aim of agricultural development is to increase  food security.