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AGE 111



Meaning of Agriculture
Originally the term agriculture is derived from two latin words Ager and Cultura. Ager means land and
cultura means cultivation i.e. tilling the soil and preparing it for planting of crops. Putting the two words
together i.e. land and cultivation, agriculture could be regarded as land cultivation. In modern day farming, this
definition is no longer acceptable as agriculture means much more than land cultivation. Modern agriculture
therefore could be defined as the production of crops and rearing of animals for the purpose of producing food
for mans use and raw materials for industries. Generally speaking modern agriculture involves the following
Cultivation of the land for the production of crops
Rearing of farm animals for the production of food and raw materials
Partial processing of farm products
Preservation and storage of farm products, and
Marketing of agricultural products.
From the above definition, it implies that modern agriculture does not end in the production of food for man
alone. In modern day farming, farmers also cultivate land for the production of crops for feeding livestock.
Similarly, farmers also grow cotton not for food but to supply raw materials for the textile industry. The
conversion of raw cassava tuber into garri and groundnut into groundnut oil and groundnut cake comes under
the term processing. A farmers job therefore includes the production of large quantities of farm products,
preserving them against wastage and selling them to make profit which he adds to his capital or uses in
obtaining other necessities of life.

Scope of Agriculture
The scope of agriculture is as wide as human endeavour, because there is no part of human activity that is not
touched by agriculture. The discussion of the areas of specialization in agriculture will give us an insight into
the scope of agriculture. These areas of specialization will be classified into three. All the areas related to plant
activities will be grouped under crop husbandry, those relating to animal activities will be grouped under animal
husbandry and others that cannot fit into these two groups will be classified as other areas.
Crop Husbandry
(i) Agronomy
This is the study of crop production practices and soil management. Agronomists study plant life and soil and
their complex relationships. Agronomists attempt to develop techniques that will increase the yield of field
crops, improve their quality, and enhance production efficiency and profitability, while conserving the fertility
of the soil. Agronomic research has resulted in important new strains of disease resistant plants and in the
development of such practices as the selective breeding of crops and the use of chemical fertilizer.

(ii) Horticulture
This is the science and art of growing fruit, vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees. Horticulture originally meant
the practice of gardening and, by extension now means the cultivation of plants once grown in gardens.
In contrast, the term agriculture by derivation, refer to more open forms of culture such as the production of
grains and grasses, known as agronomic crops. There is therefore no clear cut distinction between crop science
and horticulture.
(iii) Pomology: This is the study of fruits especially tree fruits.

(iv) Olericulture: The production of vegetable crops.

(v) Floriculture: The production of flowers.

(vi) Soil Science :The study of soil management which includes:
Proper tillage
Maintenance of organic matter
Maintenance of proper nutrient supply
Control of soil pollution
Maintenance of correct soil acidity
Control of erosion

(vii) Crop Science

This is the branch of agriculture that involves the production of crops. It is regarded as an aspect of agronomy
that deals with crop production and management only.

(viii) Crop Protection

This is another branch under crop husbandry that studies crop pests and diseases and their control.

(ix) Entomology
Entomology is the study of insect pests. This is an important aspect of agriculture as about 20% of the total loss
of agricultural products is attributed to insect pests.

(x) Forestry
This is another important branch of agriculture that is concerned with the management of forest trees. It is also
called silviculture.

(xi) Plant Pathology

This is the field of agriculture that deals with plant diseases. Those who specialize in this field of study are
called plant pathologist.

(xii) Plant Breeding

Plant breeders are concerned with the raising of hybrid or improved varieties of crops. Their areas of concern
among others include: Improvement in the size of seed or fruit Colour of seeds/fruits Resistance to pests and
diseases Resistance to drought and other harsh weather condition Reduction in the height of plant etc.

Animal Husbandry
(i) Animal Science
This is the branch of agriculture that deals with the production of farm animals. Some of the farm animals
include: Cattle Sheep Goats Pigs Rabbits Chicken Turkey Ducks etc.
(ii) Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition
These concern themselves with the formulation and production of animal feeds. This branch of agriculture
formulates feeds for different categories of animals. For example for chicken, we have broiler starter and broiler
finisher for broiler category and chick mash, grower mash and layer mash for layer category.
(iii) Animal Health
This is the branch of agriculture that deals with the study of farm animal disease and pest and their control. It is
sometimes called animal pathology.
(iv) Animal Breeding
Like their counterpart in plant breeding, animal breeding is concerned with the development of improved or
hybrid stock of farm animals.
(v) Fishery
This branch of agriculture involves the breeding rearing and production of aquatic animals.
Other Areas
(i) Agricultural Economics
This area is concerned with the application of economic principles for the purpose of resource allocation in the
agricultural industry.
(ii) Agricultural Extension
Agricultural extension is the art and science of communicating agricultural information to the local farmers. The
experts in this field achieve this by persuading the farmers of the value about change and to transmit the result
of research to the farmers.
(iii) Agricultural Education
This branch of agriculture involves training of agricultural manpower personnel in the education sector. While
agricultural extension is directed at training of farmers on their farms, agricultural education focuses on the
training of students under the classroom settings.

(iv) Agricultural Engineering

This is another important area of specialization in agriculture. It involves the study of farm machineries and
their maintenance.

(v) Agricultural Biology

This branch of agriculture looks at the diseases and pests that attack farm crops and tries to device various
storage programmes. It involves the use of life science for the improvement of agricultural practices.
All these branches of agriculture mentioned above show the extent or scope of agriculture.


History of Agriculture
The history of agriculture follows the same pattern with the development of mankind. The history of agriculture
follows the gradual development of agriculture. Through the ages, four distinct stages of agricultural
development can be identified. The first stage is the hunting and gathering of fruits. This stage is followed by
the subsistence stage of agriculture. The third stage is the stage of cash crop production and the present modern
stage is called commercial agriculture.
Hunting and Gathering period or stone- age phase
The early man was a wanderer; he lived by hunting wild animals and gathering wild fruits. These activities were
carried out on daily basis. There was no attempt to either cultivate the land or domesticate the animals. The
implements used for these activities were stone, bones, bow and arrows etc. This period was generally referred
to as the Stone Age.
Subsistence Agriculture/Middle Age
Agriculture was actually discovered at this stage of development. The seeds of the wild fruits that were gathered
by early men were thrown away after the fruits were eaten. It was later discovered by chance that some of these
seeds that fell on good soil germinated and grew. This gave them an idea of planting the seeds and settling down
in a place to look after the crops. Similarly, the captured pregnant animals also gave birth to young ones. This
also gave them the ideas of taming animals. Settled life, this started gradually as men began to exploit the soil
for crop production and taming animals for domestic use. Dogs, horses, goats, sheep, cattle were among the first
domesticated animals, while millet, wheat, oats, barley and some vegetables and fruits were also domesticated.
Subsistence agriculture involves the production of crops and rearing of animals for the use of the farmer and his
family only.Erebor (1998) identified the following as the major characteristic of subsistence agriculture. Labour
is supplied only by the farmer and his family Small area of land is used
Crude implements like hoe, cutlass, basket etc are used The product from the farm are not for sale
Little capital is required The yield is also very low
Cash Crop Farming Age : Cash crop farming is an advanced stage of agricultural development when
compared with the stage of subsistence farming. As man advanced in his social life it became necessary for him
to produce crops that would surpass the level for family consumption. These access crops were sold to procure
other essentials of life to improve the standard of living of the family. Through the instrument of money, man
was able to purchase simple farm tools, build modern houses, and purchase household equipment and other
necessities of life. In addition to food crops, man also cultivated cash crops such as cocoa, cotton, coffee,
rubber, groundnuts and citrus. The era of cash crop production marked the beginning of industrialization. These
cash crops are exported to developed countries for processing into finished and consumable products.
Commercial Agriculture/ Modern Age
Commercial Agriculture marked the beginning of mechanized farming. This is the most advanced form of
agriculture. Farmers at this stage no longer produce for the family alone. Both crop production and animal
rearing are now commercialized, that is why in the United States of America today, less than 10% of the
population who are farmers feed over 100 million people. However for commercial agriculture to strive well
there must be availability of large land, availability of enough capital to purchase land, improved plant and
animal materials, availability of farm machines, availability of processing machines, availability of farm
labour, availability of storage facilities and other essential amenities. Similarly, Erebor (1998) identified the
characteristics of commercial agriculture as follows:
It is very expensive to practice
Large area of farm land is required Requires the use of farm machines
Requires manual, mechanized and specialized labour Requires marketing of agricultural products
It requires proper keeping of the farm records Output is high and hence returns is also high
It involves researches into the various aspects of production

Importance of Agriculture
The importance of agriculture means the role agriculture is playing in the survival of an individual and the
development of the economy of the nation. The following are some of the major roles that agriculture plays in
the economy of Nigeria:
(i) Provision of Food for Man
Agriculture is primarily the most important source of food for all Nigerians and indeed for the whole world.
Without food, the nation will starve and the average life span of an individual is shortened. There will be
malnourishment and disease will set in. This important function will continue as long as there is life. Through
the years, man has sought various way of perfecting the quality and quantity of food available through
experimentation, breeding and improved farming techniques.
(ii) Provision of Food for Animals
Agriculture grows crops. Some of these crops are fed to domestic animals which in turn produce animal protein
like meat, eggs, fish etc for human consumption. Protein is a very important component of mans food. Apart
from the provision of concentrates for farm animals, agriculture now produces pasture and forage crops to
prevent ruminant animals trekking for a long distance looking for grasses. With this function, man does not
need to depend entirely on wild animals for the supply of animal proteins.
(iii) Employment of Labour
Apart from being the source of food supply, it is generally known all over the world especially among the less
developed countries that agriculture is an important source of employment of labour. In Nigeria, in spite of the
rapid growth of the other sectors, agriculture still retains its leading position as the largest provider of
employment for the working population. It is estimated that about 70 percent of the labour force is employed in
the agricultural sector while about 90 percent of the rural population depends largely on agriculture. Women and
children are directly or indirectly employed to produce or process groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, cotton and rubber
latex. Many others are employed to work in agro based industries.
(iv) Provision of Raw Materials for Industries
The role of agriculture as a source of raw materials for manufacturing industries cannot be over emphasized. In
Nigeria efforts have been made over the years to establish and expand our local manufacturing industries. As a
matter of fact it is in the interest of our economy that agriculture should be able to adequately meet the needs for
our local industries. Examples of agricultural raw materials utilized and the products manufactured include:
Palm oil is used for the manufacture of soap
Oil seeds used for the manufacture of oils and oil cakes
Seeds and oil cakes used for the manufacture of livestock feeds
Sugarcane used for refined sugar
Tobacco leaf for cigarettes
Cotton lint for the manufacture of textile fabrics
Cocoa for the manufacture of beverages
Ripe fruits for the manufacture of canned fruits and juice
Raw rubber for the manufacture of tyres and tubes
-Wood pulp for paper manufacturing.
(v) Foreign Exchange Earner
Primary producing countries depend largely on agricultural exports for their foreign exchange earnings which
they use to finance their imports. Economic developments in most countries have been financed mainly with the
earnings from agriculture. Such was the case with Nigeria before the impact of petroleum on our economy
became so prominent. In 1962 for example, agriculture accounted for about 82% of the total value of the export
for the country. In 1976 during the oil boom the contribution of agriculture to the foreign exchange earning
dropped to only about 4 percent. However with the intensification of various government and private efforts
towards improving agriculture, the figure for 2007 was about 20 percent.
(vi) Contribution to National Income
Revenue realized from the sale of agricultural products form the major source of income for farmers. Other
people that are engaged in the processing and marketing of these agricultural products earn their living
from them. All these personal incomes from agriculture form part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the
country. For example at current prices, the share of agriculture in the Gross Domestic Products has varied from
36.5% in 1973/74 to 24.4% in 1977/78. Even though there is decline over the years, it is worth noting that
agriculture has made remarkable contributions to the growth of the national income.
(vii) Rural Development
Agriculture has contributed immensely to the growth and development of rural areas. Agriculture is
synonymous with rural development. On the part of the farmers, through the income generated through farming,
they have embarked on community development and self-help projects. Many rural communities have used
their earnings from agriculture to provide amenities like primary schools, secondary schools, boreholes,
bridges, hospitals, post-offices, etc. On the part of government, in order to evacuate important agricultural
products from rural areas, government embarks upon the construction of roads and railways. Large markets are
also established in rural areas with agricultural potentials. Some rural villages are well known because of the
location of important markets for agricultural products.
(viii) Provision of Shelter and Clothing
Agriculture also contributes substantially to the nations shelter and clothing needs. The trees from which some
of the crops are cultivated can be made into timbers and used for building and furniture, while crops such as
cotton provide lint for the manufacture of textile fabrics for clothes.

1. Agriculture may be regarded as the nerve centre of the nation. Discuss this statement.
2. . What is agriculture?
3. . State the differences between subsistence and commercial agriculture

Concept of Agricultural Development

With respect to the agricultural sector, development implies sustained improvement, advancement or growth in
the various facets of the sector i.e. crops, livestock to mention a few which simultaneously enhance the standard
of living of vast majority of the people especially farmers. Thus there could be agricultural growth without
development. For example, when few farmers (in most cases rich farmers/industrialist) experience increased
output and standard of living. Consequently, there is reduction in unemployment and under-employment since a
large proportion of the population is engaged in agricultural production. This is also reflected in increased gross
domestic product of the economy. The concept of agricultural development, varies from one economy to
another, depending on the stage of economic development reached by the country hence agricultural
development enhances the standard of living of cast majority of the people especially farmers. Therefore,
agricultural development can be defined as
Agricultural development is defined as a process whereby the per capital income of the vast majority of the
farming population increased over a long period of time leading to improvement in the standard of living of
farmers, with a resultant increase in the gross domestic product of the country. The five characteristics of
agricultural development include:

Agricultural and income distribution.

Changes in rural institutions.
Reduction or elimination of poverty amongst the rural people.
Reduction or elimination of under and unemployment.

1. Briefly explain agricultural development from the socioeconomic point of view.
2. It is often said that science and technology have contributed significantly to the development of agriculture.
Explain why this is so.


Nigeria is primarily an agrarian nation. However, the agricultural history of Nigeria evolved with its political
history in three phases, namely precolonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. In spite of the persistent
influence of political changes, agriculture has witnessed dramatic transformations from the colonial era. In t his
era, agriculture was tied to intensive production of choice crops for export to the colonialists nation for
processing into highly diversified advanced products, such as beverages. Specifically, the post-colonial period is
characterized by the establishment of increasingly sophisticated and notable schemes and institutions of
agricultural development.

Phases of Agricultural Development

Pre-colonial era: Agriculture was the mainstay of the traditional economy during this period.

Colonial era: During this era (1861-1960), the British colonialists paid an ad hoc attention to agricultural
development, in favour of considerable emphasis on research and extension services.
Post-colonial era: The first national development plan (1962-1968) was drafted. The plan emphasized
the introduction of more modern farming techniques, establishment of farm settlements, co-operative
plantations, supply of improved farm implements such as hydraulic hand presses for oil palm processing
and considerably expanded agricultural extension service. Thus, two major specialized development
schemes were implemented during this period, namely Farm Settlement Schemes and National
Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP, which was launched in 1972). Also, within the same
period, the following agricultural development interventions for improving food production were
experimented upon:
a. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN, 1976);
b. River Basin & Rural Development Authorities (RBRDA), established in 1976;
c. Green Revolution Programme (1980), and
d.The World Bank-funded Agricultural Development Programmes/Projects (ADPs, early 1970s), which
constitute the most practical demonstration of integrated approach to agricultural development in Nigeria.
In addition, several research institutes and extension research liaison services were also established. These are
the Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Service (AERLS), in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria
(1963), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, and International Livestock Centre for
Africa (ILCA) located within IITA.

1. Indicate the three phases of agricultural development in Nigeria.
2. Enumerate the high points of post-colonial development of agriculture in Nigeria.
3. Which post-colonial agricultural development intervention is most impacting on agricultural growth in
Nigeria, and why?

The way the land is held or owned differs in different parts of the world, depending on the existing laws and
customs. Similarly, the ownership of land is critical to the purpose of use of the land. Traditionally in West
Africa, land ownership is either communal or individual. Also, although most land is used for agricultural
purposes land ownership affects the development of agriculture.
Definition of Land Tenure
Land tenure system describes the various ways land is controlled by the community, family or individual either
for permanent or temporary use. It also refers to the economic, legal and political arrangement regarding the
ownership and management of land and its resources. This is very important because it affects the way land is
used for both agricultural and industrial development.
Types of Land Tenure
The Land Tenure System in Nigeria varies with tribe, clan, state or community. It can be broadly classified into
four as follows:
1. Communal Land Tenure System
This is the traditional system of land ownership whereby land is generally regarded as the property of the
community. This makes individual ownership rare, particularly in rural areas. The community may be a family,
a village, a clan, always headed by a family head, village or clan head. In this system, every member of the
community is entitled to a piece of land for farming, but individual ownership is not allowed. Land cannot be
sold to strangers since there is ancestral ownership. The allocation of the land among the community members
is usually decided by the head of the community acting on the authority of the entire community. The
community does not control whatever is grown on the land and has no claim on the products of the land. The
member to whom the land is allocated decides what should be grown on the land but not permanent crops. He
also has claims over the products, especially the arable crops he has planted such as maize, rice, yams, melons,
cassava etc. but the perennial crops such as oil palm belong to the community and are harvested and shared
among the members of the community.
Disadvantages of Communal Ownership of Land
The major disadvantages of communal ownership of land are:
i. Inadequate maintenance of the soil fertility: If a farmer realizes that the portion of the land he is farming this
year may not fall to him the next year he may not have enough incentive to invest enough into the soil to
maintain its fertility. He will only be interested on how much he can get from the soil during the period he farms
on it. This will eventually lead to rapid lowering of the soil fertility.
ii. Useful time is wasted in consulting large number of people whenever government wants a piece of land for
developmental purposes. Often customary tenure rules are transmitted orally through generations. This resulted
in lack of documented records and has led to land disputes and court cases over land ownership and boundary
Advantages of Communal Ownership of Land
The advantages of this system are:
i. Each member of the community has the opportunity to request for farmland to provide food and earn some
money for his family.
ii. It is possible to organize communal and cooperative farms on such lands, since the land is extensive.
iii. Modernized farming on economic scale is possible.
iv. It is easier to transfer the land to a prospective farmer since individual attachment is almost absent.
2. Tenure based on Individual land / Free-Hold Land Ownership
This is the commonest method of acquiring land in some developing countries in which the land owner has the
freedom to do what he likes with his land. When the farmer dies, his holdings are transferred by inheritance to
his sons. The piece of land is continually fragmented from one generation to another and it is usually shared
among the male children of the farmer. Each son usually prefers to invest in the land in order to improve its
fertility for agricultural production. If the land is large enough mechanized farming can also be practiced.
The right ownership to the land can be transferred from one man to another by outright sale or purchase. This is
sometimes rare for two reasons:
a. There is the religious and sentimental attachment to land in man communities.
b. There is also the rigorous and unnecessarily long negotiation associated with such transfer or purchases.
Disadvantages of Free-Hold Land Ownership
This system of land ownership has the following disadvantages:
i. Lack of government control over land which is an important asset.
ii. Over-independence and abuse of land by land owners resulting in excessive and uneconomical fragmentation
of the land.
iii. Land may belong to some people who have no interest in land development or in making the fullest use of it.
iv. Those who have no land, or those who have very limited areas for their needs may be unable to buy or rent
land from the individual owners.
Advantages of Free-Hold Land Ownership
The main advantages are:
i. The individual owner often prefers to invest in the land in order to improve its fertility for agricultural
production since the \and belongs to him.
ii. He can also use the land as security to obtain loans from commercial banks.
iii. This system gives the land owner security of tenure, makes for proper future planning and efficient
investment on the land.
iv. Mechanized farming can be practiced if the land is large enough.
3. Lease-Hold Tenure or Landlord-Tenant Agreement
This is a situation whereby a farmer is permitted by the land owner to work on a piece of land for a fixed length
of time and under stipulated condition. The real land owner may be an individual, government or a government
agency or a community.The Taungya system in which the Forestry Department releases a portion of its fertile
land to farmers for a specific period of time for the cultivation of food crops while at the same time nursing
some tree seedlings is a good example. This system permits effective control of land by the land owner or the
community. At the expiration of the period of tenancy the land reverts to the land owner.
4. State or Government Ownership of Land
Some land belonging to the government may be leased out to an individual. Payment by such individual which
is done by cash is paid into the government treasury. The disadvantages of this system are that the government
can recover its land with a very short notice. It should be mentioned here that the disadvantages of the various
system described above are obstacles to agricultural development and cooperative societies are expected to be
used to circumvent these obstacles. This is because farmers access communal land have been found to be faster
on the platform of these Co-operative Societies rather than as individual.

a. What do you understand by communal ownership of land?

b. List the advantages and disadvantages of communal ownership of land.

1. Define the term Land tenure.
2. Mention five classes of land tenure system in practice in West Africa.
3. State the difference between leasehold tenure and rent land tenure systems.

These militating problems account for almost 90% of Nigeria's under development and once these are tackled
with appropriate solutions, Nigeria will be regarded as an industrialize country. The problem

1. Land Tenure
Land is one of the most important factors of Agricultural production. The land tenure is the way land is owned
in a society. The prevailing land tenure systems in Nigeria often discourage agricultural land utilization. Land is
owned by inheritance hence land is fragmented over generations. Increase in population has increased the
various alternatives to which land can be put. This further puts pressures on the available land. The only
solution is the strict adherence to the land use decree of 1978 as amended in 1990 ACT. This can make land
available to prospective and genuine farmers.

2. Poverty/Lack of Financial Assistant

This is one of the major problems of agricultural development in Nigeria. Modem scientific agriculture requires
some substantial capital to acquire land, improved breeds of plants and animals equipment, just to mention a
few. Majority of farmers don't have this capital and therefore have no alternative than to engage in subsistence
farming. Lack of credit facilities aggravates the problem. The banks insist on reasonable collaterals before they
can give any loan and these farmers do not have such collaterals. The solution to this problem is that the farmers
should form themselves to co-operatives to generate capital for members. Government may also provide credits
through some institutions with little or no stringent measures. The bank should be more liberal in making credit
available to farmers.

3. Lack of Basic Amenities

Basic amenities are good roads, good drinking water, electricity, educational institutions, health facilities and
market in the rural areas. Young people like to enjoy the good things of life. The lack of these amenities in the
rural areas has the effect of making the young energetic members of the communities drift from the villages to
the towns where the amenities are available. The result is that the villages where the agricultural lands are found
are abandoned to the poor and old people who may just manage to earn their living from the land. Amenities
like good roads, electricity and water supply are necessities for agriculture development.
Provision of these basic amenities will discourage rural-urban migration.

4. Ignorance and Lack of Good Agricultural Education

Most of the farmers in the developing countries are not educated enough in the technicalities relating to
agricultural product. These educated farmers do not tend to be conservative. Enlightened people tend to be
guided in their decision by reason. The farmers are dogmatic and adamant to changes and very suspicious of
any new innovations since they are unscientific in mind and in thinking and not willing to accept technological
changes. Most of the farmers are unwilling to even learn how to use and apply fertilizers, insecticides and new
farm tools. All these bring about low agricultural productivity.
In Nigeria, agricultural education is seriously being pursued. Research station or institutes are increasing and
extension services are encouraged to ensure that the result of researches is made available to farmers.
Demonstration farms are established at strategic places to help educate rural farmers. The adult education has
been embarked upon with vigour through government agencies.

5. Poor Tools and Farm Machine

Most farmers still rely on the use of tools like hoe, cutlass, rake etc for their farm operation instead of using
mechanized implements like riggers, ploughs, cultivators etc. there is need to have agricultural tools as
mentioned above that are suitable for use in the tropics. At present, these are not use in the tropics. At present,
these are not readily and sufficiently available, where some are seen; they are very expensive and out of reach
for the rural farmers. Maintenance costs are high and the spare parts may not be readily available. There is also
need for skilled manpower for the maintenance and repair of the tools and machines. It might be necessary to
encourage local production of the necessary tools and machines. This will have the effect of reducing the cost of
purchasing and maintenance and make spares readily available. The government should train farmers on the
most recent agricultural technology and there should be subsides over the farm machinery or make provision for
tractor/machines hiring units in most of the local governments.

6. Poor Storage and Processing Facilities

In this country a, large percentage of the products of the farm spoil after harvest.Prices of these products fall too
low immediately after harvest, because the farmer cannot store or produce them properly till they can have
better prices. Since these products are perishable and the farmer has no technology to process or preserve them
the entire products are offered for marketing immediately. Prices are forced down and the farmer may not be
adequately rewarded for his labour. The situation is worsened by the lack of adequate marketing systems for
most of the farm products. A large amount of farm products are lost over harvesting season because they can
neither be disposed off properly or be preserved or processed. Storage facilities are inadequate. It is necessary
that the government should establish adequate marketing system. The government should make efforts to
provide storage and processing facilities like crib, barns, shelters millers, grater, etc. excess farm products
should also be purchased by the government so as to prevent glut and bring them to the market during scarcity.

i. Explain five major problems of agricultural development.
ii. Give solutions to the five major problems mentioned above.

7. Inefficient Marketing System

The sole aim of commercial agriculture is profit making. This cannot be achieved due to the activities of the
middlemen who try to remove all gains, create artificial scarcity with poor pricing policies. Prices continue to
fluctuates and there is more marketing channels for farm produce coupled with the lacks of good roads to help
evacuate the farm produce to adequate market at the right times since most food crops are perishable within
some hours after harvesting. The government should make provision for another board that should also pay the
farmer prices that will give him enough profit to keep him in business. Such an arrangement will draw more
capital into agriculture since people tend to invest in sectors that yield them maximum profit.

8. Pest and Diseases

In Nigeria, pests and diseases that 'destroy crops and animals abound. There are pests in the soil, pests that
attack the aerial parts of the crops and storage pests very often, the rural farmers are completely helpless in the
face of these pests and diseases for they neither know how to control them nor can they afford the chemicals
with which to do so if they happen to know what the disease or pests are and what chemicals to use.
The results are:
i. The large quantities of farm produce are lost both in the field and in store.
ii. The farmer spends extra money in supplying to the farm and in the purchase of chemicals purposely to
control the pests and diseases.
iii. There is reduction in quantity and quality of the farmers products. It is necessary to note too that very often,
the chemical controlling the pests and diseases may not be available.
9. Agricultural Inputs
Agricultural chemicals such as insecticides fungicides, are very expensive while inputs like improved seeds and
seedling, improved animal materials like the parent stock in birds are lacking, some inputs are very substandard
and do not meet the desired result while application of some chemicals can lead to pollution of the environment.
Very often supply of fertilizers are made when the farmer is about to start harvesting the crops. These inputs as I
have said above; are also very expensive and beyond the .reach of majority of the rural farmers. Government
action is very necessary in this area. Farm inputs should be highly subsidized and also supplied at the right time
for effective use. Ii is also necessary to reinforce the extension services to ensure that farmers are properly
guided in the acquisition and proper use of the right type of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.
10. Government Policies and Programmes
Government lacks basic consistent policy on the establishment and management of agriculture. There is need to
use government policies and programmes to solve most of the problems of agricultural development. For
example, government can provide loans and credit facilities to promote expansion in agricultural production. It
can subsidize the Prices of specific agricultural materials and inputs in order to enable farmers obtain them at
reasonable prices. Development of rural communities especially the farming communities is a programme that
can help to attract farm labour to the rural areas where it is needed. Government can also initiate policies that
can make farming so profitable that it will attract a lot of private capital
11. Poor Extension Workers
Extension helps in disseminating recent information to a large number of farmers within a very short time. This
is not the case in developing countries because most extension workers are too ill equipped for the work while
language is another barrier, and the uncooperative attitude of the farmers. At most period there is lack of recent
research work compiled with the poor remuneration of the extension officers. The training and funding of the
extension programmes must not only be done by the government but also the non-Governmental Organizations,
cooperative Societies and other financial institutions.
12. Unpredictable Climate
This is a major factor which must be controlled to suit the agricultural production. Unfavourable climate
reduces all farm activities while drought or long period without rain leads to poor harvest while flooding
or excessive rainfall also reduces yield. Inadequate sunshine reduces the photosynthetic ability of the plants
while excessive sunshine leads to increase or abnormal temperature for the crops. Development of food
irrigation system and proper methods of preventing degradation of the environment by al1 the agencies
responsible for environmental control, should swift into action on agricultural communities.

1. The problems of agricultural development could be attended to if only the government makes agriculture a
priority. Discuss.
2. Enumerate and discuss five problems of Agricultural

Farming Systems
Gradually and over many years ago, a number of different farming systems have been evolved. Some of these
systems are practiced among farmers in certain small communities while other systems have wider applications.
The main farming systems in Nigeria include:
Shifting Cultivation
Bush Fallowing or Land Rotation
Mixed Farming or Alternate Husbandry
Nomadic Pastoral Farming
Ley Farming

Shifting Cultivation
This is a system of farming in which the farmer clears a piece of land of its natural vegetation and plants his
crops and after some few years when the land is no longer fertile, he leaves it for another piece of land without
any intention of coming back to it. The system is associated with unlimited supply of land and low population
density. It happens to be the earliest system of agriculture. It is often called hoe tillage system. Nowadays,
because of the increase in Nigerias population and the need for the farmers to feed the non-farming population,
shifting cultivation is not only undesirable but also impracticable.

Advantages of Shifting Cultivation

The system helps the soil to return to its natural state without the use of fertilizer
It is cheap to operate-involves the use of crude implements
It checks pests and diseases

Disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation

The system wastes land requires large area of land
The system also wastes money, time and energy in clearing and cultivating new areas
It exposes new land to soil erosion
It can not be practiced in high population density area
The system does not allow the growing of permanent crops
The system encourages burning of virgin land thereby reducing microbial activities.

Fallowing or Land Rotation

When man established a permanent home, he was forced to modify shifting cultivation. The pressure of the
expanding population forced him to assume ownership of different plots of land. As the growth of population
continued, shifting cultivation had to be modified into bush fallow or plants fallow. Bush fallow involves
growing crops on a piece of land until it is no longer fertile. The land is then allowed to lie fallow for some
years to regain its fertility before it is used again. Meanwhile the farmers clear other areas in succession to make
new farms. This is why it is often referred to as land rotation. If perennial legume crops like pigeon pea is
planted in place of natural grasses, the system is called plant fallow.

Advantages of Bush Fallowing

The system allows land to regain its natural fertility without the addition of fertilizer

The system helps to check some plant diseases because when farmlands are left to fallow the disease
organisms lose their host and die.
The system is cheap- requires the use of crude implements like hoe and cutlass.

Disadvantages of Bush Fallowing

The system cannot be practiced where there is thick population
Exposes land to soil erosion
Valuable forest resources are destroyed through extensive land clearance.
Time, money and energy are wasted in preparing new land.

Mixed Farming or Alternate Husbandry

Mixed farming involves growing crops and keeping animals in the same system of farming. In these system
animals such as cattle, sheep and goat may be kept in one portion of the land, while crops like maize, sorghum
and cowpea are cultivated in another portion of the land. The system is referred to as alternate husbandry if the
portion used for rearing animals last season is used for crop cultivation this season and the portion for crop
production used for animal rearing in alternation. The operator of this system must take adequate precaution so
that the animals do not destroy the growing crops.

Advantages of Mixed Farming

Fertility of the soil is maintained by using the droppings from farm animals
It forms a good source of balanced diet
Animals can be used to plough the land for crop cultivation
It guides against failure of the farm
The by-products from the farm are properly utilized for animal feed.

Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

It can result in soil erosion if there is overstocking of the animals
Management of the system may not be efficient
The system may not necessarily increase agricultural production in commercial quantity
Either the animals or crop production may succeed at the expense of the other

Nomadic Pastoral Farming

This is the system of farming whereby only grazing livestock are kept. The herdsman moves about with his
flock. He has no permanent settlement. The flock may be cattle, sheep, goat or combination of these. His aim is
to feed his flock, to fatten well and breed well. He may also move in order to avoid disease areas or areas
infested with pest like tsetse fly.

Advantages of Nomadic Farming

It is a cheap means of producing meat and milk
Not much labour is involved as in other systems
Animals grow in their natural habitat

Disadvantages of Nomadic Farming

It is unprofitable in terms of milk production
It takes more from the soil than it gives
The animals loss weight as a result of long trekking
Diseases are easily transmitted or contacted
There is no controlled mating or selection
Overgrazing can lead to soil erosion
Livestock Ranching
Livestock ranching or settled pastoral farming is a development of nomadic grazing. This is a settled form of
livestock farming where the major or perhaps the sole source of farm income is the keeping of grazing
livestock. The land is used all the time so efforts must be made to maintain the fertility of the land and prevent
overgrazing. This can be done through the practice of paddock system i.e. the system of fencing and dividing
the grazing land into sections. Provision must also be made to maintain water supply for the stock and care
should be taken to maintain and improve breeds.

Advantages of Ranching
Animals are easily identified
The animals are generally well fed and protected
Disease control is easier
Controlled mating and selection of cattle from breeding can easily be done
Disadvantages of Ranching
Labour requirement is high
The cost of establishing a ranch is much

Ley Farming
Ley farming is a system of combining pastures with crop production in alternation. After an arable crop is
harvested, the land is put under pasture and grazed for one or more seasons before it is again ploughed for the
planting of arable crops. The major difference between ley farming and planting fallow is that in ley farming the
plant is specifically for grazing. In ley farming there is also a specific period of alternation between the pasture
and the arable crop.The planted pasture is usually a mixture of grasses and legumes with different grazing

Advantages of Ley Farming

The livestock are fed well
There is no scarcity of feed
Excess pasture from the ley can be processed into hay and silage
The soil is occupied throughout the year
The arable crops also derive manure from the pasture

Disadvantages of Ley Farming

Overgrazing can lead to soil erosion
Overgrazing can also lead to nutrients deficiencies

Discuss the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of any two of the following systems:
a. Bush Fallowing
b. Mixed Farming
c. Nomadic Farming
d. Ley Farming
2. (a) What is agricultural system?
(b) Describe two farming systems commonly practiced in Nigeria.

Cropping System
Cropping system may be regarded as the various patterns which the farmer adopts in planting his crops in the
farm. They involve the ways the farmer arranges his various crops in the farm. The following systems are
Crop Rotation
Continuous Cropping or Monoculture
Multiple Cropping
Inter Planting, and
Relay Cropping

Mono-Cropping or Sole Cropping

Mono-cropping or sole cropping may be regarded as the practice of planting one crop at a time in a plot and
harvesting it before another crop is planted on the same plot. Mono cropping is usually associated with
mechanized agriculture in which cereal crops are planted. In Nigeria, crops like cowpea, groundnut, yam etc.
are also grown under sole cropping especially on experimental farm. Some people consider monoculture i.e. the
growing of perennial crops like cocoa as mono-cropping.
Advantages of Mono-Cropping
The farmers can become experts in the operations involved in the production of that crop
Farm mechanization is possible
The system improves yield and quality of crop
Pest control is easy under this cropping system

Disadvantages of Mono-Cropping:
Mono-cropping can result in the loss of revenue in case of crop failure affecting the particular crop.
It builds up pests, weeds and diseases. This is because the host plant is available all the year round.
Constant fertilizer application to replenish the soil of the nutrients taken up by the plant is necessary.
The operator of this system will have to depend on other farmers for other food crops which he does not

Mixed Cropping
It means planting more than one type of crop on the same plot of land at the same time. Yam and sorghum can
be grown in this way. Other examples include:
Millet and guinea corn
Yams okro and pepper
Cocoa and bananas etc.
This is the most popular cropping system adopted by rural farmers in Nigeria.

Advantages of Mixed Cropping

It makes very effective use of the available soil nutrients during a growing season.
Pests and diseases cannot easily spread as when a single crop is grown.
If legumes are included, they will raise the nitrogen status of the soil
It guides against total crop failure. If one crop fails the second one may survive.
The mixtures ensure efficient coverage of the soil to guide against soil erosion and also suppress weeds.

Disadvantages of Mixed Cropping

The yields of individual crops are not as high as when planted alone.
The use of combined harvester and other post planting mechanical devices may be impossible.
There is difficulty in pest and disease control especially when the crops mature at different times or do not
belong to the same family.
Labour cost per hectare is increased.
The young crops may be trampled under foot during the harvesting of older crops.
The fertilizer mixture suitable for one of the crops may not be suitable for other crops.

Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is a method of farming in which the same piece of land is kept under cultivation every year in
such a way that the crops follow a definite order or cycle planned in such a way as to restore nutrients removed
from the soil.

Principles of Crop Rotation

Crop rotation means a fixed sequence of growing different crops on a particular piece of land at different times.
This definition suggests that before starting a rotation, it is necessary to decide the order in which the crops will
follow. The following are the principles guiding the pattern of rotation:
Shallow rooted crops should not follow each other in the rotation e.g. cereal crops should not follow each
Similarly, deep rooted crops should not follow each other e.g. tuber crops should not follow each other.
Crops that are likely to be affected by the same disease should not follow each other.
Crops that will require the same soil nutrients should not follow each other.
Crops that leave residual substance in the soil which may adversely affect next crops should not be considered
in the sequence.
Advantages of Crop Rotation
It facilitates the control of weeds, pests and diseases.
It makes for effective utilization of plant nutrients
Under a very good system of rotation, the fertility of the soil is maintained
There is efficient utilization of labour.
Soil is put into maximum use without necessarily destroying it.
The system gives reasonable output when compared with the cost of production.

Disadvantages of Crop Rotation

The system is complex and not all farmers can practice it.
The practice of intercropping, inter-planting and fallowing is difficult under this system.
There is gradual decrease of crop yield as a result of continuous cropping.
Farm mechanization may be difficult if the available land for this system is small.

Continuous Cropping or Monoculture

This is the growing of the same crop on the same piece of land continuously from year to year. This may apply
to both annual crops like yam, cassava, maize and rice and perennial crops like cocoa, rubber, palm oil tree and
sugar cane. The practice of growing perennial crops on a piece of farm land is referred to as permanent or
plantation agriculture because they remain on the farm land for many years. Most of these crops are known as
cash crops because their products enter into national or international markets.
Advantages of continuous cropping are the same as in mono-cropping
Disadvantages of continuous cropping are also the same as in monocropping.

Multiple Cropping
This is the practice of growing different crops on separate plots of land. The system is similar to that of mixed
cropping in that more than one crop are planted on a piece of land at the same time. The difference is that in
mixed cropping while all the crops involved are planted on the same row or heap, in multiple cropping each
crop is allowed to stand on separate rows or plots.
For example, the first plot or row on a piece of farm land can be cowpea, the second row or plot can be
groundnut and the third row or plot can be maize. If properly operated the system has the same advantages with
crop rotation. The major difference between this system and crop rotation is that in multiple cropping there is no
attempt to follow any definite pattern of planting.
Advantages of multiple cropping are the same as mixed cropping
Disadvantages of multiple cropping are the same as mixed cropping

It involves the growing of one major crop in between another major crop in the same piece of land.
In this system, the crop planted first is harvested first, leaving the latter crop on the plot. For example, yam is
planted and later cassava is interplanted with it. While yam is harvested cassava still remains.
Advantages of interplanting are the same as mixed cropping.
Disadvantages of interplanting are the same as mixed cropping.

Intercropping or Catch Cropping

This is the planting of quick growing and quick maturing crops in between slow growing and slow maturing
crops. i.e. the first crop planted is harvested last. For example, yam is planted first and later intercropped with
okro and maize, okro and maize are harvested before yam. In plantation agriculture, intercropping is popularly
called catch cropping. Example is the growing of maize, millet, sorghum or cowpeas in cocoa, rubber or oil-
palm plantations. The idea is that farmers will have something to rely on while waiting for the plantation crops
to mature for harvesting.
Advantages of intercropping are the same as mixed cropping.
Disadvantages of inter cropping are the same as mixed cropping.

Relay Cropping
This occurs when one sole crop is planted and harvested or about to be harvested before another sole crop is
planted in the same piece of land. Up to three different sets of sole crops may be planted in this way on a piece
of land within one year provided the soil fertility can sustain it and there is enough rainfall. Vegetables are very
suitable for this system of cropping.

Advantages of relay cropping

There is maximum utilization of soil nutrients
Farmers are fully engaged throughout the growing season i.e. full utilization of Labour.

Disadvantages of relay cropping

Can lead to depletion of soil nutrients
Require the addition of fertilizer and other farm inputs.

(a) What is crop rotation?
(b) Design a four year crop rotation for your college farm
(c) What are the principles guiding your design
Mans need for wood started in pre-historic times. The Early man relied on wood for survival, shelter, tools and
hunting implements such as clubs, spears, bows and arrows. The wild forests served sufficiently as the original
source of wood. Inadvertently, in his search for wood from the forests, man discovered other benefits of forest
trees, especially wood products and by-products, and innumerable beneficial services such as biodiversity
conservation and recreation. Thus, the roles of forests in providing significant economic, social, religious and
environmental values to man cannot be over-emphasised.
Importance of Forests
Forest Products
These include:
a) timber, sawn timber, used for various construction works including furniture-making;
b) fruits and other food items (tubers, leaves) to supplement mans dietary nutrient requirements;
c) fodder tree species such as for livestock feeding;
d) ethno-medicare, through herbs used for medicinal purposes;
e) wildlife that supplies animal protein;
f) chewing sticks and sponges;
g) raw materials for handicraft and small-scale enterprises e.g. fibres of Pandanus used for weaving mats
and baskets, and rattans for making furniture items;
h) non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as culinary materials, dietary supplements, mushrooms, ferns,
sponge and charcoal;
i) fuel wood and pole from timber;
j) industrial raw materials such as latex, gum and resins; and
k) provision of materials that are of cultural and religious significance e.g. leaves of Newbouldia laevis,
used during traditional chieftaincy coronation; dedication of some forests to the worship of deities and
traditional gods (sacred/fetish groves).
Forest Services/Uses
Modern forestry is aimed at assisting forests to:
provide and conserve biodiversity for wildlife habitat;
regulate natural water, including water flow and water erosion;
stimulate recreation, through eco-tourism;
enhance landscape and community protection;
provide employment;
provide aesthetically appealing landscapes;
provide a sink for atmospheric carbon-dioxide (through carbon sequestration), in order to purify air
and water, and prevent global warming by greenhouse gases;
detoxification and decompose wastes;
generate and renew soil fertility;
stabilize the climate and moderate temperature extremes; and
provide windbreak and shelterbelt;
provide foreign exchange;
provide employment opportunities; and
In this unit, you have learned that forests are important for the provision of both timber and non-timber
products, cultural and religious benefits and services, such as biodiversity, relaxation and employment.

1) In what two broad ways do forests serve Man?
2) Outline any four products and six services of forests.
This branch of agriculture involves the breeding rearing and productionof aquatic animals.
Fish is a term used to describe all living produce of water, including fin-fish and poikilothermic
vertebrates that breathe by means of gills and move by means of fins. This category of water produce is
regarded as fish because it dominates 90% of aquatic food resources. However, other aquatic living
produce of water which are economically important to man are reptiles (crocodiles, sea turtles);
mammals (whales, tortoises, dolphins, seals); other aquatic invertebrates (crustaceans: shrimps, crabs,
lobsters); mollusks (oyster clams, periwinkles, cuttle fish); and aquatic plants such as sea weeds and
coral reefs.

Food for Human Consumption

Fish, particularly fin-fish, is regarded as first-class protein (provides 16% of the world populations
protein), containing abundant calorific value, vitamins, phosphorus and other essential elements for
good growth and maintenance of a healthy body. Other food fish products are shelled molluscs (calm,
mussel, oyster, winkle, and scallop) and crustaceans (shrimp, lobster, crayfish, crab), eggs (roe) of
various species of fish, marine invertebrates (sea urchins, shrimp), squid, octopus, sea cucumber and
certain jellyfish species. Marine plants also serve as food (seaweeds) as well as a suspending,
thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying agent in dairy products (Irish Moss). In 2002, about
76% of estimated world fisheries were used for direct human consumption. Fish products include
canned products, fresh and frozen products, pickled, spiced and marinated products, salted and/or dried
products and prepared/secondary products.]

Non-Food Fish Products such as Fish Meal and Fish Oil are used as Dietary Supplements
in Livestock Production
In 2002, their manufacture accounts for 24% of world fisheries production.
i. Some parts of the fish body are used for purposes such as leather and polishing materials (skin of
some cartilaginous fishes e.g. carp), scales of coating glass beats and artificial pearls. Non-food
fish products, such as fish oil, are used in the manufacture of soap and other pharmaceutical products.
ii. Sea horse, star fish, sea urchin and sea cucumber are used for traditional medicine in China. Eating
fish and seafood has been reported to reduce the risk of chronic illness in Canada.
iii. Pigments such as tyrian purple are made from marine snails, and sepia from the inky secretions of
cuttle fish. Phycocolloids (extracted from seaweed) and certain fine biochemicals have
valuable industrial uses.
iv. Fish glue, made by boiling the skin, bones and swim bladders of fish, is valued for use in several
products including illuminated manuscripts and Mongolian war bow.
v. Isinglass, a substance obtained from the swim bladders of fish (especially sturgeon) is used for the
clarification of wine and beer.
vi. Fish emulsion is a fertilizer emulsion produced from the fluid remains of fish processed for fish oil
and fish meal industrially. Knotted wrack is used for making liquid fertilizer.
vii. Shark skin and ray skin which are covered with tiny teeth (dermal denticles) are used as sand paper.
viii. The above-mentioned skins are used for leather; shark skin leather is used in the manufacture of
hilts of traditional Japanese swords. The skin of hagfish is used for making eel leather converted into
eelskin products in Korea.
ix. Whole fish e.g. cleupids, enchovy, capeline and other discards (wastes) and shrimp heads are used
for producing animal feeds
(fish meal, silage).
x. Fish waste product (offal; consists of skins, heads, eviscera/internal organs, bone/cartilage) is used
for organic farming, fish meal production (48-52% protein), liquefied fish (by addition of enzymes),
composting (high in nitrogen), commercial baits (buffalo fish heads, carp heads, whole carp,
sucker heads, shad), production of formulated bait (crab, crayfish, lobster) and formulated feed
xi. Provision of income and employment- Fisheries and aquaculture provide full-time, part-time and
occasional primary sector employment; aquaculture provides increasingly more opportunities than
capture fisheries. Worldwide in 2002, this workforce represented 2.8% of the 1.33 billion people
economically active in agriculture.
xii. Fish is desired for recreational fishing through angling(shortfin mako, lognfin mako, white shark,
bluefin tuna), fishkeeping and sport fishing of both freshwater fish (bass, trout, salmon, catfish,
yellow perch) and salt water fish (swordfish, tuna, merlin, halibut, salmon).
xiii. Fish is caught indirectly for human consumption in industrial fisheries.
xiv. Fish serves as ornamentals and for common exhibition e.g. freshwater fishkeeping, marine aquaria,
brackish water aquaria, home aquaria, offers, etc. Pearl and mother-of-pearl are valued
for their lustre. Spa treatments are very rich in minerals and enzymes.
xv. Some seafood restaurants keep live fish for cultural beliefs, as deities and religious symbols.
xvi. Fish trade; live fish, pearl trade, trade of dry cod, etc. In 2002, total world trade of fish and fishery
products increased to USS58.2 billion, up 5% relative to 2002 and a 45% increase since
xvii. Bacteriological agar from cultivated Geldium, a type of red algae, used for cutting bacteria and
other microorganisms in most laboratories in British Columbia.
xviii. Hagfish are currently of special interest in genetic analysis of the relationships between
chordates; the mucus secreted by the fish includes strong, thread-like fibres similar to spider silk which
has potential uses as new biodegradable polymers, space-filling gels and as a means of stopping blood
flow in accident victims and surgery patients.

1) What is fish?
2) Enumerate any five benefits of fish to man.
3) Write short notes on fish waste products.
4) List any ten food fish products.

In all agricultural production systems, the multitude of cultural operations which enhance optimum
crop yields also impact on the farm environment in particular, and the macro-ecosystems in general.
For instance, in subsistence agriculture farmers adopt uncontrolled burning to get rid of excess,
aggressive vegetation before sowing their crops. Even in intensive agriculture, the advanced
technologies of farming and livestock production such as land preparation, conventional tillage,
pesticide and fertilizer application for producing good-quality crops also have adverse effects on the
natural environment. In the poultry industry,
extensive odours from huge piles of faecal droppings cause serious pollution of the environment.
Natural Environments are Fragile but Ecologically Stable
However, agricultural activities cause serious environmental problems because they alter the natural
ecosystem, and in the process, produce harmful by-products. The ultimate consequence of the alteration
is the degradation of ecosystems through the following adverse effects:
i. Loss of biodiversity. This arises from the reduction of forests and other habitats after farming as well
as the reduction in genetic diversity and increased vulnerability of high yielding varieties to pests
which thus necessitate heavy pesticide use. Global forest cover has been reduced by 20% since the
industrial revolution. Tropical forest areas are being deforested at a rate of nearly 50000 sq. miles per
year. The conversion of virgin temperate forest to plantation is similarly continuing unabated,
especially in Russia.
ii. Increasing contamination of waterways and wetlands by excess nitrogen and phosphorus release to
rivers and lakes.
iii. Fertilizer application leads to soil salinisation.
iv. Detrimental effects of inappropriate and heavy use of pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides,
other biocides) such as contamination of food and environment, and health hazards to farmers.
v. Pesticides also kill the natural enemies of pests, which subsequently multiply rapidly and create
considerably more environmental nuisance than when pesticides are not used.
vi. Pest resistance to agro-chemical pesticides is currently very appreciable, necessitating the
development of more effective, but hazardous chemicals and their mixtures.
vii. Large-scale slash-and-burn techniques of subsistence farming result in nutrient-poor soil, especially
in tropical forest environments. It is particularly ecologically destructive (of the
forest integrity) where fields are not allowed sufficient time to regeneration before subsequent
application, under high population pressure and under loss of a large number of vulnerable and
endangered plant fallow species.
viii. Extraction of biomass in harvests of wood or charcoal diminishes further growth of any vegetation
type due to poor residual soil productivity.
ix. Consolidation of diverse biomass into a few species.
x. Advances in agriculture technology require a large energy input, often from fossil fuel to maintain
high levels of output.
xi. Increasing diversion of crop production strategies from food supplies to bio-fuel supplies.
xii. Heavy use of fresh water, depleting water supply for human consumption.
xiii. High dependence on technologies which further degrade the soil.
For instance, in the United States a dead spot, due to fertilizer runoff into the Mississippi River has
been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
xiv. Large-scale soil erosion is a major land degradation feature in tropical agriculture.
xv. Intensive agriculture depletes soil fertility over time, and potentially leads to desertification.
Unfortunately, further growth of any vegetation type is practically impossible for future generations.
xvi. Aggressive weed colonizers and associated pests, pathogens and dangerous animals (snakes,
mosquitoes, etc.) are important environmental nuisance.
xvii. Extensive growth and surface cover of floating aquatic weeds is a menace to navigation. Also,
eutrophication of water bodies by decomposing weed residues reduces the drinking and irrigation
xviii. Global climate changes, especially global warming due to excess CO 2 and NO2 emissions into the
xix. In particular, the United Nations consider the livestock sector (especially cows, chickens, pigs) as
one of the most significant contributors to most serious environmental problems, both at local and
global levels. The sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, which
accounts for 18% of the worlds gas emissions. Also, it produces 65% of human-related NO2 (296
times more warming potential than CO2) and 37% of all human-induced CH4 (23 times more warming
potential than CO2). The sector also generates 64% of the NH3, which contributes significantly to acid
rain and acidification of ecosystems.

1. In what main way does agriculture cause serious environmental problems?
2. What is the ultimate consequence of the adverse effect of agriculture on the environment?
3. Enumerate five ways through which agriculture causes environmental degradation.