Agricultural Development: Definition and Characteristics

 

Agricultural Development: Definition and Characteristics


The term agricultural development- with special reference to West Africa and Nigeria in particular. The transformation of subsistence agriculture to more productive forms of agriculture in Nigeria and other African countries requires the development of agricultural training research and extension programmes, the formulation of appropriate government policies, and the development of government regulations and programmes designed to enhance agricultural production.

Science and technology are applied to agricultural operations to improve man's skill and to improve methods of cultivating the land, protecting crops and livestock against diseases and pests, thereby increasing agricultural productivity.

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Definition of Agricultural Development

Agricultural development is defined as the process that creates the conditions for the fulfillment of agricultural potential. Those conditions include the accumulation of knowledge and availability of technology as well as the allocation of inputs and output.

Through the lens of agricultural development, poverty and hunger area perceived as impacting distinct groups due to the contribution of faming toward individual and household income portfolios.

Agricultural development is facilitated by the provision of certain social, health and educational facilities and services such as rural infrastructure (good road network); regular water supply, electricity, health, recreational and educational facilities for the people (farmers and families).

When these are provided for, the rural populace they become independent of the urban people and facilities.  All these are, however, accompanied by appropriate development programmes to sustain the development process. It therefore implies that agricultural development is not a revolutionary process. It is a planned process of change which requires adequate planning.

 

Development Provisions

Agricultural development is facilitated by the provision of certain social, health and educational facilities and services such as rural infrastructure (good road network); regular water supply, electricity, health, recreational and educational facilities for the people (farmers and families). When these are provided for, the rural populace they become independent of the urban people and facilities. 

All these are, however, accompanied by appropriate development programmes to sustain the development process. It therefore implies that agricultural development is not a revolutionary process. It is a planned process of change which requires adequate planning.

 Read On: Meaning, Types, Factors of Agricultural Production Economics


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 etc., which simultaneously enhance the standard of living of vast majority of the people, especially farmers. Thus, there can be agricultural growth without development; for example, when few farmers (in most cases, rich farmers/industrialist,) experience increased output and standard of living.

Suffice it to opine that there is reduction in unemployment and under-employment when a large proportion of the population is engaged in agricultural production. This is also reflected in increased gross domestic product of the economy.

1. Fully Monetized Economy

A fully monetized economy has exportation of agricultural products as one of its policy objectives. Also, agricultural development in such an economy reflects the features of basic subsistence economy; in addition to increased cash or export crop production.

Invariably, there will be improvement in the quality of the crops exported; foreign exchange earnings are used to purchase capital goods which are needed for the various stages of development process within the economy.

2. Industrial Economy

Within an industrial economy, agricultural development occurs when there is adequate supply of raw materials to local agricultural industries. This leads to expansion of industries, creation of job opportunities, and reduction in underemployment. Thus, there is increase in food supplies to the growing industrial population.

Although the number of people engaged in farming may decline, the productivity of the people remaining will increase, with the use of improved farming practices and efficient implements. It is important to note that in all the three types of economy, there is a sustained increase in farmers’ output, leading to increase in income and standard of living of the farming population.

Besides, each economy has the feature of the three types of economies discussed above. Hence, there is rarely a distinction or demarcation between the three.

 

The Role of Science and Technology in Agriculture

Consequent upon the desire to increase efficiency in agricultural production, some farmers now specialize in some specific aspects of agriculture, such as poultry, cattle rearing, piggery and cultivation of specific crops.

Thus, science and technology has played a significant role in the areas of mechanization of agricultural production, protection of crops and animals, improvement of soil fertility for increased crop yield, production of disease resistant varieties of crop and species of animals.

Still on the major contributions of science and technology in agriculture, let us consider the following.

a. Mechanization of agricultural production: Mechanization enhances significant improvement in the design and fabrication of agricultural machinery and tools. Cultivation of land is now done with the use of ploughs and harrows. Tractor-driven implements like planters, harvesters etc., are now used in the farm. Besides, simple farm tools like cutlasses, hoes are being modified for increased efficiency. Battery cages are fabricated for poultry production; recently, with the high cost of procuring conventional metal battery cages wood is now used to build battery cages in Nigeria.

b. Protection of crops and livestock:  Various agro-chemicals have been produced by scientists to control pests and diseases of crops and livestock.

Insecticides, pesticides, fungicides are used to control the infestation of crops and animals in farms. Fungus disease in maize is controlled by using fungicides; while herbicides are used to control weeds. Animals are treated in the farm by veterinarians; and vaccination ensures that animals are immunized against diseases.

c. Breeding: High yielding varieties of plants and animals are developed through breeding to increase farmers’ output. Besides, varieties which are resistant to pest and diseases are also produced by scientists; for instance, high yielding varieties of cassava developed by scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is now widely cultivated by farmers in Nigeria.

Artificial Insemination (AI) was developed to effect fertilisation in the female animal without being in contact with the male counterpart.

This method has the advantage of reducing wastage of sperm, thereby enhancing increased production. Scientists have developed high yielding cowpeas varieties (such as ire brown) which are resistant to multiple diseases and insects- which reduce grain quality and seed viability, thus making seed unfit for planting.

d. Improvement of soil fertility: Soil scientists have discovered the use of inorganic chemical compounds in replenishing soil minerals. The mineral depleted from the soil due to excessive cropping can be replaced through application of inorganic fertilizers as well as organic manures.

Scientific agricultural systems (crop rotation) have been discovered by scientists to improve farmer’s performance in agricultural productions.

Read On: What are Fertilizers?- Types, Uses and Importance


Conclusion on Agricultural Development: Definition and Characteristics 

You have learnt that agricultural development implies sustained improvement, advancement or growth in the various facets of the agricultural sector (i.e. crops and livestock, etc.). 

Thus, there can be agricultural growth without development. Science and technology has also made a major impact in agricultural operations so as to keep pace with socio-economic development.

This post has revealed that the concept of agricultural development varies from one economy to another- depending on the stage of economic development attained by a country. 

Hence, agricultural development enhances the standard of living of vast majority of the people, especially farmers.

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