MEANING OF AGRICULTURE. Agriculture is simply defined as the production of crops and rearing of animals for man’s use.
In other words, agriculture is the deliberate effort made by man to till the soil, cultivate crops and rear animals for food and other purpose.
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the economy of many West African countries. Even though agriculture is practised widely at the subsistence level, it employs about 60 – 70 percent of the population of West African countries.
14.1 PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE
At the end of this chapter, students should be able to:
- State the meaning of Agriculture
- Identify the main components of agriculture
- Explain the main features of various systems of agriculture.
- Explain the importance of agriculture to economic development by using Nigeria as an example.
- Explain the processes and challenges of marketing both food and cash crops in Nigeria.
COMPONENTS OF AGRICULTURE
Agriculture has many components or branches. The most important components are:
Crop production: This is the branch of agriculture which is concerned mainly with the cultivation of crops. Crop production is grouped into two major categories: Food crops and Cash crops.
Food Crops are cultivated to provide food for the population or mainly for consumption. Examples of food crops are rice, maize, groundnut, vegetables, yam, cassava, etc. Cash Crops on the other hand are cultivated mainly for sale.
In other words, cash crops are produced basically for exports to earn income or foreign exchange for the economy and for industrial uses. Examples of cash crops are cocoa, orange, rubber, cotton and oil palm.
Livestock farming: Livestock farming involves the rearing of animals either for consumption or for sale. Livestock are cattle, sheep, goat, donkey, poultry,rabbits, snail and grass cutter. These animals are reared for many purposes, e.g meat, for cash, transport and sport.
Forestry: Forestry is the art of planting tending and managing forest, including the utilization of their products.
Most of the trees found in the forest are either growing naturally or planted for specific purposes.
Some common tree usually found in the forest areIroko, Obeche, Mahogany, Ebony, Opepe, Afara and Teak. Forest is important for the provision of food, fuel, medicinal herbs, employment, wild life, foreign exchange, timber and pulp for making of paper.
Fish farming: Fish farming is the act of rearing selected species of fish under scientifically controlled conditions in enclosed bodies of water such as ponds, streams rivers, ocean, etc. where they feed, grow, breed and are harvested for consumption or for sale. Fishing provides food, employment, income and foreign exchange to many nations, especially when fish are exported to other countries.