The transformation from a plant to a finished product involves three types of economic activities-primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary activities include the extraction and production of natural resources. Examples- Agriculture, fishing and gathering. Secondary activities- the processing of these resources. Examples- Manufacturing of steel, baking of bread and weaving of cloth. Tertiary activities-provide support the primary and secondary sectors through services. Examples- Transport, trade, banking, insurance and advertising.

Agriculture is a primary activity. Favourable topography of soil and climate is vital for agricultural activity.

Farm System

Agriculture or farming can be looked at as a system. Important inputs-seeds, fertilisers, machinery and labour. Operations involved ploughing, sowing, irrigation, weeding and harvesting. The outputs from the system are crops, wool, dairy and poultry products.

Types of Farming

·         Subsistence farming

·         Commercial farming

Subsistence farming and Commercial farming– The main types of farming depend upon the geographical conditions demand for produce, labour and level of technology.

Subsistence farmingSubsistence agriculture is practiced by farmers who grow food primarily for their consumption. They typically have small farms and use traditional methods of farming.

It is classified as intensive subsistence and primitive subsistence farming.

Subsistence farming

Intensive subsistence agriculture

Primitive subsistence agriculture

The type of farming is practised to meet the needs of the farmer’s family.

The farmer cultivates a small plot of land using simple tools and more labour. Climate with a large number of days with sunshine and fertile soils permit the growing of more than one crop annually on the same plot.

Includes shifting cultivation and nomadic herding.

Shifting Cultivation– a plot of land is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. The ashes are then mixed with the soil and crops are grown. After the soil loses its fertility, the land is abandoned, and the cultivator moves to a new plot. Shifting cultivation is also known as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.

Nomadic Herding-herdsmen move from place to place with their animals for fodder and water along defined routes. This type of movement arises in response to climatic constraints and terrain.

Main Crop


Shifting Cultivation– maize, yam, potatoes and cassava

Other Crops

Wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds

Nomadic Herding-Sheep, camel, yak and goats are most commonly reared. They provide milk, meat, wool, hides and other products to the herders and their families.


Prevalent in the thickly populated areas of the monsoon regions of South, South-East and East Asia.

Shifting Cultivation-practised in the thickly forested areas of the Amazon basin, tropical Africa, parts of Southeast Asia and Northeast India.

Nomadic Herding– practised in the semi-arid and arid regions of Sahara, Central Asia and some parts of India, like Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

 Commercial Farming Commercial grain is practiced by farmers who grow food for sale. They typically have large farms and use modern methods of farming, such as machinery, pesticides, and fertilizers.

Commercial Farming

Commercial grain farming

Mixed Farming

Crops are grown, and animals reared-sale in the market. The large area is cultivated, and a large amount of capital is used. Work done by machines.

Crops are grown for commercial purposes.

The land is used for growing food and fodder crops and rearing livestock

These areas are sparsely populated, with large farms spreading over hundreds of hectares. Severe winters restrict the growing season, and only a single crop can be grown.


Wheat and maize



Temperate grasslands of North America, Europe and Asia

Practised in Europe, eastern USA, Argentina, southeast Australia, New Zealand and South Africa

Major Crops

·         Major food crops– wheat, rice, maize and millet.

·         Fibre crops-jute and cotton

·         Important beverage crops-tea and coffee


Rice- the staple diet of the tropical and sub-tropical regions-needs high temperature, high humidity and rainfall-grows best in alluvial clayey soil, which can retain water-Leading producers of rice are China, followed by India, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Egypt-In favourable climatic conditions like West Bengal and Bangladesh 2 to 3 crops are grown in a year.


 Wheat– requires moderate temperature and rainfall during the growing season- bright sunshine at the time of harvest- thrives best in well-drained loamy soil-grown extensively in USA, Canada, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Australia and India- grown in winter in India.


Millets– known as coarse grains-can be grown on less fertile and sandy soils-a hardy crop that needs low rainfall and high to moderate temperature and adequate rainfall- Jowar, bajra and ragi are grown in India-also in Nigeria, China and Niger.


Maize-requires moderate temperature, rainfall and lots of sunshine-needs well-drained fertile soils- grown in North America, Brazil, China, Russia, Canada, India, and Mexico.


Cotton– requires high temperature, light rainfall, 210 frost-free days, and bright sunshine to grow-grows best on black and alluvial soils-Leading producers of cotton are China, USA, India, Pakistan, Brazil and Egypt-main raw materials for the cotton textile industry.


Jute-known as the ‘Golden Fibre’-grows well on alluvial soil- requires high temperatures, heavy rainfall and a humid climate- grown in tropical areas-Leading producers of Jute are India and Bangladesh.


Coffee– requires a warm and wet climate and well-drained loamy soil-Hill slopes are more suitable for the growth of crop-Leading producers are Brazil, followed by Columbia and India.


Tea– a beverage crop grown on plantations-requires cool climate and well-distributed high rainfall throughout the year for the growth of its tender leaves-needs, well-drained loamy soils and gentle slopes-Kenya, India, China, and Sri Lanka produces the best quality tea in the world.

Factors Affecting Agriculture

There are many factors that affect agriculture, including:

·         Climate: The amount of rainfall, temperature, and sunlight can all affect crop growth and animal production.

·         Soil: The type of soil, its fertility, and its water-holding capacity can all affect crop growth.

·         Topography: The slope and elevation of land can affect crop growth and farming practices.

·         Technology: New technologies, such as machinery, pesticides, and fertilizers, can all affect agricultural productivity.

·         Economics: The price of inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, and the price of outputs, such as crops and livestock, can all affect agricultural profitability.

Challenges Facing Agriculture

Agriculture faces a number of challenges, including:

·         Population growth: The world's population is growing rapidly, putting a strain on the demand for food.

·         Climate change: Climate change is causing changes in weather patterns, which can affect crop growth and animal production.

·         Water scarcity: Water scarcity is a growing problem in many parts of the world, and it can limit agricultural production.

·         Pests and diseases: Pests and diseases can cause significant damage to crops and livestock.

·         Soil degradation: Soil degradation is a problem in many parts of the world, and it can reduce agricultural productivity.


Agricultural Development

Efforts were made to increase farm production in order to meet the growing demand of the increasing population in many ways, such as increasing the cropped area, the number of crops grown, improving irrigation facilities, use of fertilisers and high yielding variety of seeds-ultimate aim of agricultural development is to increase food security.

Developing countries with large populations practice intensive agriculture where crops are grown on small holdings mostly for subsistence-larger holdings are popular for commercial agriculture.

Agricultural development is essential for several reasons:

·         To feed the growing population: The world's population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. This means that we will need to produce more food than ever before to feed everyone.

·         To reduce poverty: Agriculture is the main source of income for millions of people around the world. By increasing agricultural productivity, we can help to lift people out of poverty.

·         To protect the environment: Agricultural practices can have a significant impact on the environment. By adopting sustainable agricultural practices, we can help to protect soil, water, and biodiversity.