Agriculture: Meaning, System And Importance Of Agriculture In Economics

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Agriculture
  • Types Of Agriculture
  • System Of Agriculture
  • Importance Of Agriculture
  • Problems Of Agriculture In West Africa
  • Efforts To Improve Agriculture In West Africa

Agriculture is an economic activity which involves the cultivation of land, raising of animals and birds, and provision of human food and raw materials for industries.
This is the mainstay of most of the West African Countries. About 70% of the labour force of West Africa are employed in Agriculture. About 80% of West Africa export crops come from Agriculture.
Types Of Agriculture
We have the following types in West Africa:
1. Crop Production
2. Livestock
3. Forestry
4. Fishing
5. Hunting
1. Crop Production
Crop are raised from plants under this types. Crop produced include grain crops, legumes, oil seeds, tuber crops, fruits, vegetable etc.
2. Livestock
Under this, animals and birds are reared and processed for humans and animals consumption. The products of this type include beef, diary products, meat from goat, sheep and pig, chickens etc.
3. Forestry
This involves felling of trees and processing log into timbers and wood. Replacement of trees is carried out also through aforestation programmers.
4. Fishing
This involves catching of fish and rearing of fish in the fish ponds.
5. Hunting
This involves chasing or pursuing game or wild animal for food, spears, clubs, gums and traps are used.
System Of Agriculture
The following system of agriculture are practised in West Africa:
1. Plantation Agriculture
2. Peasant Agriculture
3. Mechanized Agriculture
4. Cooperative Agriculture
5. Farm Settlements
1. Plantation Agriculture
This involves a large scale farming on plantation. It is usually mechanized. It is used for rubber, oranges, oil palms, and colanuts. It is a capital intensive.
2. Peasant Agriculture
Under this, farms are usually small and owned by individuals or families. Holding are sometimes scattered within the neighborhood. This system is common in Nigeria.
3. Mechanized Agriculture
This involves the use of motor powered implements, animal drawn implements to replace hoes and cutlasses techniques.
It is usually large scale production which aims at massive production. It is capital intensive.
4. Cooperative Agriculture
In this system, Cooperators may own a large area of cultivable land together, work together and share their products. This system also lends itself to mechanization as more capital can be easily generated.
5. Farm Settlement Agriculture
Farm settlement is an innovation on the peasant type of agriculture. It is a system whereby a large area of cultivable land is acquired and divided into plots among the settlers.
Under this system young school leaves are recruited and credit facilities granted to them for farming.
Some parts of the settlement are devoted to crop production and other to poultry. In Nigeria farm settlement exists in Igbariam, Anambra State.
Importance Of Agriculture
1. Provision of food for the Nation.
2. Creation of employment opportunities.
3. Provision of raw materials for industries.
4. Revenue is provided to the government through exportation of agricultural products.
5. Agriculture provides market for some industrial products such as hoes, cutlasses, chemicals etc.
Problems Of Agriculture In West Africa
The following problems face agriculture in West Africa:
1. Insufficient infrastructural facilities create problems to agricultural development e.g good roads.
2. Land Tenure System: The negative effects of land tenure system makes large scale agriculture impossible.
3. Inadequate Capital: The peasant farmers can not easily obtain loan from the banks due to lack of collerteral securities. As a result modern agricultural implements can not be obtained.
4. Storage Facilities: There is inadequate storage facilities for preserving agricultural products especially the perishable products.
5. Conservative Attitude Of The Farmers: This conservatism has made it impossible for the farmers to change from the crude implements to modern tools and methods of Agriculture.
6. Inadequate fertilizer supply: The supply of fertilizer is not adequate. The land suffers from infertility and low yield.
7. Low Income Problem: Due to low price, agricultural product do not yield enough income to the farmers especially when compared with other sectors like trading. It therefore renders Agriculture unattractive to young men and women.
8. Seasonal Nature Of Agriculture In West Africa: The climatic nature of West Africa does not encourage farming throughout the year. Farmers are therefore rendered unemployed for a reasonable part of the year.
Efforts To Improve Agriculture In West Africa
1. Improved Production Techniques
2. Seed Multiplication
3. Improved Storage Facilities
4. Fertilizer Supply and Subsidy
5. Provision of Infrastructural Facilities
6. Irrigation Scheme
7. Pesticides Application
8. Credit Facilities Provided
9. Farmers Cooperative Societies
10. Through Agricultural Education: Government have intensified this for illiterate farmers through seminars, exhibitions, demonstrations and conferences.

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