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Steps towards getting agriculture moving

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Livestock are important secondary factories of agriculture

By Dr. S.M. Alam NIA, Tandojam
Apr 10 - 16, 2000

The first step towards getting agriculture moving is to achieve a clear and full understanding of what agriculture is. Agriculture phenomenon is a very special kind of production based on the growth processes of plants and animals. The farmer communities manage and stimulate plant and animal growth on farms. The production activities on each farm are a business in which costs and returns are important.

To increase the agricultural production of a country is a complex task. It is a complex because so many different conditions have to be created or modified by different persons and groups of people. They have to be combined and used with intelligence, imagination, experimentation and continuing hard work.

Agricultural development is needed in almost every country of the world today. The race between increasing population and mankinds food supply is a real and grim. Agriculture is the only way we now know to produce the food on which our very lives depend. There is an urgent need to develop agriculture in a faster way in the next two decades to meet the food requirement. The farmers of the world and their families need agricultural development in order that they may live better. It is only by producing more, and selling more that they can buy some of the many things they need and want for a more satisfactory level of living.

Agricultural development is a social product. It is not the result of the work of farmers alone. It is result of the activities of farmers and farm families, lawmakers, highway engineers, merchant, manufacturers, research workers, teachers, veterinarians, editors and every citizen who participates in electing public officials and influencing the laws of his country. There are generally four elements of agriculture, (i) The production process, (ii) the farmer, (iii) the farm and, (iv) the farm business. The Production Process: Plants are the primary factories of agriculture. They take in carbon dioxide from the air through leaves. They take in moisture and chemical substances from the soil through their roots. By using the energy of these, they make seeds, fruits; fibres and oils that man can use.

Livestock are important secondary factories of agriculture. Depending on plants for their food, they can eat many parts of plants that man does not, such as the stems and leaves of grasses. They transform plant materials into still other products of use to man: meat, hides, wool, eggs and milk. The farmer as a cultivator: The first role of farmer is to take care of plants and animals in order to get useful products. With respect to plant growth, this includes the preparation of seedbeds, that sowing of the crop, the elimination of weeds, the management of soil moisture and measures for the control of pests and diseases. With respect to animal growth, it includes controlling the breeding of livestock, herding and feeding them, protecting them from diseases and where necessary housing. The farmers add fertilizers, apply irrigation water, insecticides and pesticides.

Farm: A farm is a portion of the earth surface on which a particular farmer; farm family or other organization cultivates crops or tends livestock. Farm production uses inputs to produce outputs. Inputs are all the things put into the production process. The use of land, the labour of the farmer and his family and any worker he may hire, his mental effort in planning and managing the seed for his crops and feed his animals, fertilizers, insecticides and other supplies, tools and implements and bullocks or tractors. All the things that go into agricultural production are inputs. The inputs are the crop and livestock products the farm produces. There are five essential items for agricultural development. These are (i) markets for farm products,(ii) constantly changing technology (iii) local availability of supplies and equipment(iv) production incentives for farmers(v) transportation.

Agricultural development increases the output of farm products. There must a market for these products and price for them high enough to repay the farmer for his cash costs and his effort in producing them. All the above five essential factors are inter-related and should work together for agricultural development of the country.

To provide favourable incentives to farmers, transportation must be as inexpensive as possible. Transportation of materials depend on distance quantity and type of conveyance. Openeing new land for cultivation is a popular and glamorous type of agricultural development. Whether it is a matter of clearing the forest and replacing it with cultivated farms or of extending irrigation in arid regions so that the desert can be cultivated or of reclaiming lake bottoms or tidal flats from the sea.