Agriculture is an applied science which encompasses all aspects of crop production including horticulture, livestock rearing, fisheries, forestry, etc. The term Agriculture is derived from two Latin words “ager” or “agri” meaning soil and “cultura” meaning cultivation. Agriculture is defined in the Agriculture act (1947), as including ‘horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds, and the use of land for woodlands where that use ancillary to the farming of land for Agricultural purposes”.
Agriculture is defined as an Art, Science and Business of producing crops and livestock for economic purposes.
- As an Art it embraces knowledge of the way to perform the operations of the farm in a skillful manner, but does not necessarily include an understanding of the principles underlying the farm practices.
- As a Science: utilizes all technologies developed on scientific principles such as crop breeding, production techniques, crop protection, economics etc. to maximize the yield and profit. For example, new crops and varieties developed by hybridization, Transgenic crop varieties resistant to pests and diseases, hybrids in each crop, high fertilizer responsive varieties, water management, herbicides to control weeds, use of bio-control agents to combat pest and diseases etc.
- As the Business: As long as agriculture is the way of life of the rural population production is ultimately bound to consumption. But agriculture as a business aims at maximum net return through the management of land labour, water and capital, employing the knowledge of various sciences for production of food, feed, fibre and fuel. In recent years, Agriculture is commercialized to run as a business through mechanization.
Branches of Agriculture;
1) Agronomy – Deals with the production of various crops which includes food crops, fodder crops, fibre crops, sugar, oil seeds, etc. The aim is to have better food production and how to control the diseases.
2) Horticulture – Deals with the production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, ornamental plants, spices, condiments and beverages
3) Forestry – Deals with production of large scale cultivation of perennial trees for supplying wood, timber, rubber, etc. and also raw materials for industries.
4) Animal husbandry – Deals with agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock in order to provide food for humans and to provide power and manure for crops.
5) Fishery science – Deals with practice of breeding and rearing fishes including marine and inland fishes, shrimps, prawns etc. in order to provide food, feed and manure.
6) Agricultural Engineering – Deals with farm machinery for filed preparation, inter-cultivation, harvesting and post harvest processing including soil and water conservation engineering and bio-energy.
7) Home Science – Deals with application and utilization of agricultural produces in a better manner in order to provide nutritional security, including value addition and food preparation.
On integration, all the Seven branches, first three is grouped as for crop production group and next two animal management and last two allied Agriculture branches.
Importance of Agriculture;
- Many raw materials, whether it’s cotton, sugar, wood, or palm oil, come from agriculture. These materials are essential to major industries in ways many people aren’t even aware of, such as the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, diesel fuel, plastic, and more. In fact, raw materials are so important in production that the economic health of a country strongly depends on how many raw materials it possesses.
- Raw materials from agriculture make up a huge portion of what’s traded internationally. Countries with plenty of those supplies export them and trade for materials they don’t have. If a country’s agriculture suffers for some reason, prices can go up and it disrupts the flow of trade. Currently, the EU is the first trader of agricultural products in the world, both for imports and exports.
- Speaking of trade, developing countries still get most of their national income from agricultural exports. While developed countries don’t depend on agriculture as much as they used to, their economies would definitely take a hit if all exports suddenly stopped.
- The agricultural industry is still one of the biggest sources of employment and in many areas, it’s actually booming. Whether it’s working as a farmer, harvester, technician for farm equipment, scientist, and so on, there are plenty of jobs available in this field. In developing countries, agricultural jobs help reduce high rates of unemployment. When it comes to reducing poverty, evidence shows that focusing on agriculture is significantly more effective than investing in other areas.
- Economic development is tied to a country’s agriculture sector. When trade, national revenue, and employment are combined in a positive way, a country enjoys reduced poverty and boosted economic growth. Because strong agriculture results in benefits fairly quickly, focusing on it is one of the best ways to speed up development and improve a country’s standing in the world.
- Agriculture possesses the power to harm or heal. When farmers prioritize biodiversity on their land, it benefits the earth. Having more biodiversity results in healthier soil, less erosion, better water conservation, and healthier pollinators. This is all good news for the environment as a whole, making agriculture an important part of the cycle of life.
- Agriculture is such an important part of a country’s infrastructure, it makes sense it would impact conflicts and war. Throughout history, the need for land to grow food fueled many conflicts. In more modern times, specifically WWI,
- Arguably the most important aspect of agriculture is that it’s the source of the world’s food supply. No matter where or what you are eating, the ingredients in your meals came from somewhere. All roads lead to agriculture. In countries dealing with food insecurity and severe malnourishment, it’s because their agriculture sectors are suffering. When agriculture thrives, fewer people go hungry.
- Because healthy agriculture is so essential to a country’s well-being, It’s been the setting of some of the most exciting innovations in technology. Through artificial intelligence, blockchain software, gene manipulation, and more, scientists and farmers have been figuring out ways to increase crop productivity, use less water, and reduce negative impacts on the environment. For scientists and tech companies, agribusiness is one of the most fascinating and productive fields to work in.
- When it comes to pollution and climate change, the environment and agriculture suffer the quickest and with the most clear consequences. If effective changes aren’t made, climate change’s impact on agriculture will decimate a country’s economy and eventually wipe out the food supply. The state of agriculture is a good litmus test of what we can expect the future to look like.
Revolutions in Agriculture;
- Through white revolution, milk production quadrupled from 17 million tonnes at independence to 108.5 million tonnes.
- Through blue revolution, fish production rose from 0.75 million tonnes to nearly 7.6 million tonnes during the last five decades.
- Through yellow revolution oil seed production increased 5 times (from 5 million tonnes to 25 million tonnes) since independence.
- Similarly, the egg production increased from 2 billion at independence to 28 billion, sugarcane production from 57 million tonnes to 282 million tonnes, cotton production from 3 million bales to 32 million bales which shows our sign of progress.
- India is the largest producer of fruits in the world. India is the second largest producer of milk and vegetable.
Indian Agriculture & Economy
- Indian Agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to the Indian economy. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing was estimated at Rs. 19.48 lakh crore (US$ 276.37 billion) in FY20.
- Share of agriculture and allied sectors in gross value added (GVA) of India at current prices stood at 17.8 % in FY20. Consumer spending in India will return to growth in 2021 post the pandemic-led contraction, expanding by as much as 6.6%.The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70% of the sales.
- The Indian food processing industry accounts for 32% of the country’s total food market, one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and expected growth.Principal agricultural commodities export for April 2020 – January 2021 was US$ 32.12 billion.
- India is expected to achieve the ambitious goal of doubling farm income by 2022. The agriculture sector in India is expected to generate better momentum in the next few years due to increased investment in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage. Furthermore, the growing use of genetically modified crops will likely improve the yield for Indian farmers. India is expected to be self-sufficient in pulses in the coming few years due to concerted effort of scientists to get early maturing varieties of pulses and the increase in minimum support price.
Agriculture Heritage in India;
Agriculture in India is not of recent origin, but has a long history dating back to Neolithic age of 7500-6500 B.C. It changed the life style of early man from ‘nomadic hunter of wild berries and roots’ to ‘cultivator of land’. Agriculture is benefited from the wisdom and teachings of great saints. The wisdom gained and practices adopted have been passed down through generations. The traditional farmers have developed the nature friendly farming systems and practices such as mixed farming, mixed cropping, crop
rotation etc. The great epics of ancient India convey the depth of knowledge possessed by the older generations of the farmers of India. The modern society has lost sight of the importance of the traditional knowledge which had been subjected to a process of
refinement through generations of experience. The ecological considerations shown by the traditional farmers in their farming activities are now-a-days is reflected in the resurgence of organic agriculture.
Scope of Agriculture;
- With a 16% contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), agriculture still provides livelihood support to about two-thirds of country’s population.
- The sector provides employment to 58% of country’s work force and is the single largest private sector occupation.
Agriculture accounts for about 15% of the total export earnings and provides raw material to a large number of Industries (textiles, silk, sugar, rice, flour mills, milk products).
- Rural areas are the biggest markets for low-priced and middle-priced consumer goods, including consumer durables and rural domestic savings are an important source of resource mobilization.
- The agriculture sector acts as a wall in maintaining food security and in the process, national security as well.
The allied sectors like horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries, have an important role in improving the overall economic conditions and health and nutrition of the rural masses.
- To maintain the ecological balance, there is need for sustainable and balanced development of agriculture and allied sectors.
- Agriculture’s eyes and minds are soothed by dynamic changes from brown (bare soil) to green (growing crop) to golden (mature crop) and bumper harvests.
Thus , Agriculture helps to elevate the community consisting of different castes and communities to a better social, cultural, political and economical life. Agriculture maintains a biological equilibrium in nature. Satisfactory agricultural production brings peace, prosperity, harmony, health and wealth to individuals of a nation by driving away distrust, discord and anarchy.