The Agricultural World The Human Matrix Chapter 3
Introduction • Importance of agriculture • 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
Introduction • Agriculture—the principal enterprise of humankind through most of recorded history • Today remains the most important economic activity in the world • Employs 45percent of the working population • In some parts of Asia and Africa, over 80 percent of labor force is engaged in agriculture
Agricultural regions • Formal agricultural regions • Peoples living in different environments develop new farming methods • Numerous spatial variations have been created • Shifting cultivation • Essentially a land rotation system • Where it is practiced • Tropical lowlands and hills in the Americas • Africa • Southeast Asia • Indonesia
Agricultural regions • Shifting cultivation – how it is practiced • Small patches of land are cleared by chopping vegetation and girdling trees • When vegetation has dried, it is burned • These techniques give shifting agriculture the name “slash-and-burn” • With digging sticks or hoes, farmers plant a variety of crops in the clearings
Agricultural regions • How it is practiced • Intertillage—the practice of planting taller, stronger crops to shelter lower, fragile ones from tropical downpours • Intertillage reveals a learning acquired over many centuries • Little tending of the plants is necessary until harvest time • No fertilizer is applied to the fields • The same clearings may be planted for four or five years until the soil loses it fertility • New fields are prepared and old fields may be abandoned for 10 to 20 years
Agricultural regions • Subsistence agriculture—involves food production mainly for the family and local community rather than for market • Farmers keep few if any livestock, often relying on hunting and fishing for much of their food supply • Has proved an efficient adaptive strategy • Slash-and-burn farming may return more calories of food for the calories spent than modern mechanized agriculture • Has achieved sustainability for millennia in the absence of a population explosion
Agricultural regions • How slash-and-burn farming is being attacked by Western agricultural “experts” • People being forced off the land by rural development schemes • Improved health conditions have caused population growth beyond the size supportable by this kind of farming • People have passed to the second stage of the demographic transformation causing land fallow periods to be shortened • Environmental deterioration follows
Shifting Cultivation - Uganda • This “slash-and’burn” plot is in the Ruwenzoris (Mountains of the Moon). • A burgeoning population does not permit a suitable fallow period; crop yields are poor and the forest never recovers
Shifting Cultivation - Uganda • Consequently, shifting cultivation by too many people is responsible for tropical rainforest destruction over a vast area. • Intertillage is practiced with bananas, taro, cassava, beans and sorghum being planted in the same field. • While some sugarcane and coffee are grown for sale, this is primarily subsistence agriculture.
Agricultural regions • Distinctive type of subsistence farming • Where practiced • Humid tropical and subtropical parts of Asia • Monsoon coasts of India • Hills of southeastern China • Warmer parts of Japan
Paddy rice farming • Tiny, mud-diked, flooded rice fields, many perched on terraced hillsides • Paddies must be drained and rebuilt each year • Forms the basis of “vegetable civilizations”—almost all caloric intake is of plant origin
Paddy rice farming • Many paddy farmers raise a cash crop for market • Tea • Sugar cane • Mulberry bushes for silkworm production • Fiber crop jute • Asian farmers also raise pigs, cattle, and poultry • Food fish are maintained in irrigation reservoirs in Asia
Paddy rice farming • Draft animals—water buffalo—used more by farmers in India • Japanese have mechanized paddy rice farming
Paddy rice farming • Most paddy rice farms outside Communist area of Asia are tiny • Three acre plot is considered adequate to support a farm family • Irrigated rice provides a large output of food per unit of land • Small patches must be intensively tilled to harvest enough food • 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
Paddy Rice FarmingSuzhou, China • This woman is harvesting rice seedlings to be transplanted into the paddy behind her. Planting seeds closely in small seed beds allows plant growth to begin while another crop of seedlings is ripening in the larger paddy
Paddy Rice FarmingSuzhou, China • Once that crop is harvested, the paddies are prepared for a new planting of the partly developed seedlings. With this method, double-cropping – two or three crops a year (depending on the length of the growing season) – are harvested.
Paddy rice farming • Green Revolution • Achieved by introducing hybrid rice during the last half of the twentieth century • Chemical fertilizers introduced • Heightened productivity achieved
Peasant grain, root, and livestock farming • Where practiced • The colder, drier Asiatic farming regions • River valleys of the Middle East • Parts of Europe and Africa • Mountain highlands of Latin America and New Guinea
Peasant grain, root, and livestock farming • A system based on bread grains, root crops, and herd livestock • Dominant grain crops some of which are consumed by the farmers • Wheat • Barley • Sorghum • Millet • Oats • Maize
Peasant grain, root, and livestock farming • Many farmers raise cash crops • Cotton • Flax • Hemp • Coffee • Tobacco
Peasant grain, root, and livestock farming • Livestock raised and their usage • Cattle, pigs, sheep • In South America they raise llamas and alpacas • Livestock provide milk, meat, and wool • Some livestock also pull the plow, serve as beasts of burden, and provide fertilizer for the fields • Areas such as Middle East also use irrigation
Mediterranean agriculture • A distinctive type of agriculture took shape in ancient times • In a few areas this traditional subsistence system survives intact today • Based on wheat and barley cultivation in the rainy season • Drought-resistant vine and tree crops—grapes, olives, and figs • Livestock herding—sheep and goats • Do not integrate stock raising with crop cultivation
Mediterranean agriculture • Rarely raise feed, collect animal manure, or keep draft animals • Communal herds pastured on rocky mountain slopes • No fertilizer use-therefore grain fields lie fallow every other year • Farmers can reap nearly all of life’s necessities • Wool and leather for clothing • Bread, beverages, fruit, milk, cheese, and meat
Mediterranean agriculture • Changed about 1850 when commercialization and specialization of farming replaced the traditional diversified system • Farmers began using irrigation in a major way • Led to the expansion of crops such as citrus fruits • Better described as market gardening
Nomadic herding • Practiced particularly in the deserts, steppes, and savannas of Africa, Arabia, and the interior of Eurasia • Graze cattle, sheep, goats, and camels • Main characteristic is the continued movement of people and their livestock in search of food for the livestock • Some migrate from lowlands in winter to mountains in summer • Some shift from desert areas in winter to adjacent semiarid plains in summer
Nomadic Herding - Niger • These herds belong to the Taureg, nomadic herders of Africa’s Sahara and Sahel. Government programs to dig boreholes (wells) has led to environmental modification. • As animals and human populations increase, overgrazing and deforestation intensify with desertification the end result. • In places, animals have trampled and denuded ground for up to six miles around a borehole. • Many Taureg are giving up this way of life to work in Algeria’s oilfields
Nomadic herding • Nomads in Sub-Saharan Africa are the only ones who depend mainly on cattle • Nomads living in the tundras of northern Eurasia raise reindeer • The few material possessions of the nomads must be portable, including housing • Livestock provides most all of life’s necessities • Some necessities are obtained by bartering with sedentary farmers • Until almost the modem age, nomads presented a periodic military threat
Nomadic herding • Today, nomadic herding is almost everywhere in decline • National governments have established policies encouraging nomads to become sedentary • This encouragement was started in the nineteenth century by British and French colonial administrators in North Africa • Russia adopted such a policy and had considerable success • Many nomads are voluntarily abandoning traditional life to seek jobs in urban areas or in Middle Eastern oil fields • Severe droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa has caused many to abandon nomadism • Today, nomadism survives mainly in remote areas, and may soon completely vanish
Plantation agriculture • A commercial agricultural system imposed on the native types of subsistence agriculture in certain tropical and subtropical areas • Plantation—ahuge land-holding devoted to the efficient, large-scale, specialized production of one tropical or subtropical crop for market
Plantation agriculture • “Welcome to Freehold Plantation: a workplace where labor harmony reigns, in mutual respect and understanding, we united workers produce and export quality goods in peace and harmony.”
Plantation agriculture • The plantation system • Relies on large amounts of hand labor • Originated in the 1400s on Portuguese-owned islands of the coast of tropical West Africa • Today, the greatest concentration is in the American tropics • Most plantations lie on or near seacoasts and shipping lanes • Produce is carried to non-tropical lands—Europe, United States, and Japan
Plantation agriculture • Plantation workers • Most live on the plantation • Rigid social and economic segregation of labor and management • Two-class society—wealthy and the poor • In the past—as in the antebellum southern United States—slaves were relied on to provide the labor • Today tension between labor and management is not uncommon • Because of the necessary capital investment, corporations or governments are usually owners of plantations • Societal ills of the system remain far from cured
Plantation agriculture • Expansion of the system • Provided the base for European and American economic expansion into tropical Asia, Africa, and Latin America • Maximized the production of luxury crops • Sugar cane • Bananas • Coconuts • Spices • Tea and coffee • Spices • Cacao • Tobacco
Plantation agriculture • Cotton, sisal, jute, hemp, and other fiber crops were required by Western textile factories from plantation areas • Profits from plantations were usually exported to Europe and North America impoverishing the colonial lands where plantations were developed • Crop specialization • Coffee dominates the upland plantations of tropical America • Tea is mainly confined to hill slopes of India and Sri Lanka • Today, coffee is the economic lifeblood of about 40 developing countries • Sugar cane and bananas are major lowland crops of tropical America
Plantation agriculture • Most crops are partially processed before shipping to distant markets • Neo-plantation—mechanized plantations • Require less labor, cause underemployment and displacement of local people • People flock to urban centers • Contribute to massive growth of cities in developing countries
Plantation Agriculture - Malaysia • This rubber estate (plantation) exports rubber through Singapore. Reflective of Malaysia’s plural society, this Chinese owned estate is Indian managed with a Malay and Japanese (dating to World War II occupation) labor force.
Plantation Agriculture - Malaysia • By 1877, Heva braziliensis had diffused from Brazil via England into Singapore. • Ruber soon boomed in Malaya and indentured laborers were brought from India. • By 1919, Malay supplied half the world’s rubber. • Environmental influence is significant because rubber can only grow in the tropics.
Plantation Agriculture - Malaysia • Capital is important because there is a period of years before the newly planted trees yield any latex. • Labor is essential because trees must be tapped and latex collected daily to be processed in an on-site factory.
Market gardening • Also known as truck farming • Located in developed countries • Specialize in intensively cultivated nontropical fruits, vegetables, and vines • Raise no livestock • Each district concentrates on a single product • Wine, table grapes, raisins • Oranges, apples • Lettuce, or potatoes
Market gardening • Entire farm output is raised for sale rather than consumption on the farm • Many participate in cooperative marketing arrangements • Many depend on seasonal farm laborers • Appear in most industrialized countries and are often near major urban centers • In the United States—lie in broken belt from California eastward through the Gulf and Atlantic coast states