So, what is actually meant by sub-sistence agriculture? One of the characteristics of sub-sistence agriculture is that quite small area is required for the cultivation of crops. So in this case the crop variety is quite limited.
The other important characteristic of subsistence agriculture is the fact that very little land is required to cultivate the crop. On the other hand, one of the most important characteristics of commercial agriculture is the production of highly processed food, mainly for domestic consumption.
In the early days shifting cultivation was extensively practiced in order to grow crops and avoid depletion of soil fertility. Nowadays shifting cultivation is not practiced at the landholder’s land, but rather at the yield holder’s land.
This implies that shifting cultivation is a part of the normal growth pattern of an agricultural economy. Another characteristic of subsistence agriculture is the use of simple implements and tools made of iron, steel, or clay.
The other major characteristic of subsistence agriculture is the utilization of animal products as the primary source of income
In the early days shifting cultivation did not require massive investment on the part of the farmer, as there was enough supply of plant food. Later on when the yield from the field was less, then the need of investment in order to increase agricultural production was felt and followed by the practice of shifting cultivation.
One of the most important features of subsistence agriculture is the practice of saving seed stock as it is necessary to maintain the fertility of the land by sowing fresh seed every year.
Subsistence agriculture has become extremely important in the face of increasing population growth and dwindling natural resources. People in rural areas have relied more on horticulture and small scale farming to meet their requirements for food and fuel.
This has led to an increase in food production on a small scale, leading to rising prices. These practices of small-scale farming have been challenged by the increased pressures of industrial agriculture and commercial agriculture.
Subsistence farmers mainly utilize manure for the purpose of making compost for their fields
They also grow sugar cane, nuts, vegetables, fruit and flowers for livelihood and income. Fertilizers are generally applied on a large scale in rural areas. Fertilizer is mostly obtained from mines and springs.
A large proportion of the food products obtained by subsistence farmers are such that they had to be transported in trucks, which was a great difficulty, especially for farmers who had small vehicles.
Commercial agriculture includes a variety of activities undertaken for increasing the production of crops for economic gain. Such activities are generally done on a larger scale than the self-sufficiency of the farmer.
Crop rotation is one such practice adopted by commercial agriculture. In this case, fields are planted with various crops depending on the climatic conditions at that place. These crops include maize, soya beans, cress, and sorghum.
The major task of commercial agriculture is to cultivate enough grains to feed the people living in the villages
A farmer should be able to produce enough food grains to meet the needs of his people, who depend largely on him for their livelihood. Self-sufficiency is impossible if the farmer does not interplant different crops. He should also learn how to control pests and insects that destroy his crops.
Agriculture is dependent on weather and natural cycles. Climatic conditions are influenced by global warming. So, it becomes necessary for agriculturalists to switch over to crops that require less water and other resources.
This can either be to switch over to drought tolerant and other water-saving crops or adopt concepts of integrated management. Another form of subsistence farming is by employing livestock such as poultry and small cattle for farming purposes.
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