Problems of Agricultural Development in Countries


Problems of Agricultural Development in Countries

Deliberate modification of the earth’s surface for the cultivation of plants and rearing of animals and livestock is termed as agriculture. Food production is the major purpose of agricultural activities. It includes rearing of animals, plants and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, and dairy products to sustain and enhance human life.

Agriculture in the past played a key role in the rise and development of sedentary human civilization. Whereas the domestication of animals created food in surplus that nurtured the development of the human civilization.

Agriculture is more than farming. Its primary purpose has always been to feed the population. The population of the world has crossed 7 billion. Therefore, we have to understand how to feed them. We also need to study how we have been able to do it successfully for the past 10 thousand years. Hence understanding the process is necessary.

Problems of Agricultural Development in Countries

The following sixteen (16) problems facing the development of agriculture in countries as follows:

1) Problem of Land Tenure

2) Lack of Basic Infrastructural Amenities

3) Poor Financing of Agriculture

4) Poor Transportation Facilities

5) Poor Communication

6) Lack of Storage Facilities

7) Lack of Processing Facilities

8) Illiteracy Level of the Farmers

9) Poor Extension Services

10) Poor Farm Tools and Machineries

11) Unstable Government Policies and Programmes

12) Poor Marketing System

13) Problems of Pests and Diseases

14) Production Uncertainty

15) Wrong Attitude to Farming

16) Problem of Environmental Degradation

17) Custom of the People

18) Poverty Level of Farmers

19)  Inefficient Farmers Organizations

1) Problem of Land Tenure: Land tenure is the system of land ownership. The major parts of the land either belong to individuals or communities. This method of the land ownership does not encourage commercial agriculture, as the land is owned through inheritance. This method of land ownership leads to land fragmentation. This method often leads to communal clashes and destruction of life and properties. Farmers who have the capital to make the best use of the land may not belong to the group that owns the land. Even when such people are given access to land, they are often afraid to put in their best on the land as the land owners can demand it from them at any time. At times the land owners often dictate what the landless farmers should plant on the land. Increase in population has also increased the various alternatives which land can be put; this further puts pressure on the available land.

2) Lack of Basic Infrastructural Amenities: Agriculture is synonymous with rural economy. Most of the rural areas where over 70% of agricultural production is taking place lack social and infrastructural amenities. These basic amenities includes;

·        Motor-able Roads

·        Electricity

·        Health Facilities

·        Standard Schools

·        Telephone Services

·        Clean Water Supply etc.

These social and infrastructural amenities are needed to improve the standard of living of local farmers and this increase agricultural production. Good roads will ease movement of workers and transportation of their farm products to urban centre, clean water supply will reduce the rate of infection of water borne diseases, and health facilities will ensure prompt treatment of illness in the rural areas. This will ensure that farmers and their family members remain strong and healthy to work on the farm. Lack of basic amenities often lead to rural urban migration. This will also lead to reduction in the working population in the villages and eventual reduction in farm output. Presently, in some majority country of farmers remaining in the rural areas are those above 40 years of age. The young ones have gone out in search of jobs in the cities.

3) Poor Financing of Agriculture: Most of agricultural activities are left in the hands of peasant farmers. One of the major problem confronting rural farmers is lack of finance. The numbers of farmers who succeed in getting loan from credit institutions are very few compared to the teeming population of farmers.

This is due to the following reasons:

• The farmers are generally very poor

• Most of them cannot secure the collateral demanded for loans

• Some cannot pay the high interest rates charged on loans by financial institutions.

As a result of these most of them still operate at subsistence level. Farmers need both production and consumption credits to enhance their status.

4) Poor Transportation Facilities: The major mode of transportation especially in the rural areas is by road. Transportation facilities in this context refer to the mode and means of transportation i.e. the condition of the road as well as the condition of the vehicles used for the transportation. We have already discussed the poor condition of basic amenities in the villages. The roads are generally rough and bad. Some of the roads are only motor-able only during the dry season. With these conditions of the road, it is not surprising that vehicles plying them break down frequently. The vehicles also lack spare parts. All these transportation problems often lead to high cost of bringing farm products from rural areas to urban centres. It also increases the perishability of farm products. Middlemen often take advantage of these transportation problems to increase the prices of the products and at times hoard them to create artificial scarcity.

5) Poor Communication: The means of communication include radio, television, telephone, telex, fax etc. Communication is essential for agricultural development. They are needed to pass useful information about agriculture and other related matters to farmers. Our communication system is still very poor. Television and telephone services are not available in the villages and where available most farmers cannot afford to buy them.

6) Lack of Storage Facilities: Our rural farmers depend largely on local methods of storing their agricultural products. Local methods like barns, cribs and rhumbus are not very efficient in storing large quantities of agricultural products for a long time. They cannot be used to store fresh products. Modern storage facilities like silos, cold rooms, refrigerators etc are lacking in the rural farming communities. These poor storage facilities can lead to perish-ability of farm products, and pests and disease attacks. Other problems of poor storage include reduction in quality and quantity of farm products, glut during harvests and famine outside harvest periods.

7) Lack of Processing Facilities: Processing of agricultural products is one of the major conditions that must exist for agricultural development to occur. Both the processing machines and the spare parts are presently lacking in the rural. Even when available their prices are beyond the reach of local farmers. Some of the machines also require experts to operate them as they are highly technical in nature. Maintenance of the existing machines is difficult and expensive. Maintenance is difficult due to non-availability of exports as well as spare parts.

8) Illiteracy Level of the Farmers: Most farmers can neither read nor write. Most of the farmers are not educated enough in the technicalities relating to agricultural production. Many of them do not know of new developments in agriculture. It is only when a person knows of the existence of something that he can think of its use. If a farmer knows of the existence of fertilizer and does not know how to use it, he is not much better than those who do not know about it. The results of the illiteracy of farmers according to Erebor (1998) are:

• Reluctance of the farmers to change

• Farmers are superstitious in their beliefs

• Suspicious of new innovation

• Unscientific in mind and in thinking, and

• Generally uncooperative, hostile and unaccommodating

9) Poor Extension Services: An extension service is the process through which farmers receive information in modern farming from the relevant government agencies.This is necessary to keep the farmers informed of the latest development in the field of agriculture. The extension services delivery system is very poor. The numbers of extension workers are very few compared to the number of farmers. The few available ones have no mobility to visit the farmers. Many of them are not prepared to live in rural areas where farmers reside. Those that are ready to stay the rural areas are not adequately remunerated. All these factors combine to bring about poor extension activities

10) Poor Farm Tools and Machineries: Most farmers still depend on the use of crude farm implements and so remain at subsistence level. Some of the available modern farm tools are not adapted to function under our soil condition. Some of the machines are very expensive, some require experts to operate and most of them cannot be used on fragmented land. As a result of these problems, farmers still depend on their energy and crude implements. This leads to low yield, short life span of farmers, time wasting and low farmer’s income.

11) Unstable Government Policies and Programmes: In order to promote the development of agriculture, governments at times establish some agricultural programmes or announce some policies. These programmes like the land use decree, operation feed the nation, marketing boards, green revolution, farm settlement schemes, directorate of food, road and rural infrastructure etc. Lack continuity as some of them will cease to exist as soon as the initiator leaves office. Some policies have negative effects on farmers e.g. importation of rice often reduces demand for local rice. Inconsistencies in government policies like the granting of subsidies and removal of subsidies on farm inputs: have negative effects on agricultural development.

12) Poor Marketing System: An efficient marketing system is one of the conditions for the development of agriculture. The marketing system for agricultural products is generally poor. Some rural areas are not motor able throughout the year and where motor-able, the roads are generally bad. Vehicles for carrying the products are few and the available few are in bad condition which leads to their breakdown. As a result of this the volume of trade is generally low for agricultural products. The journey of two hours may take six hours. Due to lack of competition, farmers are forced to sell their farm products at very low prices. The abolition of agricultural marketing boards left farmers at the mercy of middlemen.

13) Problems of Pests and Diseases: Pests and diseases have serious effects on agricultural production. Some of the effects of pests and diseases on agricultural development include:

• Increase in the cost of production

• Reduction in the quality of farm produce

• Reduction in the income of farmers, and

• Reduction in the quantity of farm produce

14) Production Uncertainty: Agricultural production unlike industrial production is subject to the vagaries of the weather, crops depend on rainfall to grow. Shortage of rainfall leads to drought while excessive rain leads to flooding. Long period break of rainfall also have adverse effects on the crops. High humidity has effect on drying process and excessive sunshine can lead to wilting of crops. Farmers depend on natural weather conditions for their operations as a result of this, any adverse weather condition will have serious effect on their output.

15) Wrong Attitude to Farming: Farming is looked upon by many as an occupation for the poor people. The youths therefore will not like to belong to this category of people in the society. They prefer to take up white-collar jobs that would enable them to put on nice clothes and sit in air conditioned offices. As such they move out of the villages in large number in search of white collar jobs in the cities. Those youths those ventures to remain in the village to farm are being looked upon as low class. This poor or negative attitude of the general society towards farming has serious impact on farming as those who remain in farming are old people. Old farmers are known for their reluctance to accept new innovation which implies that agricultural development will remain slow.

16) Problem of Environmental Degradation: There are some environmental problems that affect agricultural development. Such problems include pollution, soil erosion, bush burning, deforestation etc. Environmental pollution is a very serious problem in the oil producing areas. Oil spillage is injurious to the growth of crops. Erosion menace is another serious environmental problem. Erosion is the gradual wearing away of the soil surface by either rain or wind. This leads to soil depletion, which increases the cost of farm production. Similarly, bush burning can destroy useful crops on the farm and cause oxidation of some important elements. Deforestation can reduce the activities of micro-organisms in the soil.

17) Custom of the People: Traditional beliefs and custom affect the development of agriculture.  For example the consumption and production of certain food stuff is forbidden in some communities for no reason other than superstitious beliefs. Some communities believe that children who eat or demand for eggs will become thieves in the later part of their life. At times customs dictate what crop farmers can plant and what animal they can rear. Social customs on the practice of agriculture influence the people’s acceptance of any innovation. Some localities are highly spiritual and they express a high degree of unwillingness to respond to any change.

18) Poverty Level of Farmers: Success in agriculture requires considerable capital investment. Majority of the problems highlighted above are hinged on the poverty level of farmers. Most farmers operate within the vicious cycle of poverty. Low farm outputs leading to low incomes result in low savings which give rise leading to low investment that in turn leads to low output and the circle continues. There is the need to acquire enough land to make farming an economic venture. The improved planting materials and improved breeds of livestock can only be acquired with money. Modern farming requires power and equipment that are very expensive. Poverty therefore, prevents farmers from going into commercial farming. Indeed farmers will remain poor unless there is government intervention.

19) Inefficient Farmers Organizations: Various farmers’ organizations are established to assist the farmers in different areas of farming. For example, marketing cooperatives are established to help the farmers solve their marketing problems, thrift and credit societies also help the farmers to solve their financial problems. Other organizations include:

• Group farming cooperatives

• Consumer cooperatives etc

However, due to administrative and financial problems these organizations are not effective in performing their functions.

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