Meaning, Nature and Scope of Agriculture


Meaning, Nature and Scope  of Agriculture

 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 man’s use and raw materials for industries.

Generally speaking modern agriculture involves the following activities:

• 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 farmer’s 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.

Read on: Definition,Scope, Nature of Agricultural Economics

Nature and Scope of Agriculture

The scope of agriculture is as wide as human endeavor, 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.

Read on: Definition,Scope, Nature of Agricultural Economics

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.

Read on: Types of Agriculture

Read on: Definition,Scope, Nature of Agricultural Economics

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