Agriculture has been associated primarily with the production of food crops for a long time. Today, it has become more inclusive since mushroom farming, bee keeping, fruit cultivation, dairy farming, forestry, etc. are now part of agriculture. Marketing, processing, and distribution of livestock products and crops are also acknowledged as part of agriculture.
Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of many countries especially developing and less developed nations. Agriculture is the backbone of such economies. Agriculture also plays a role though not a major one in the economy of developed nations. Agriculture provides raw materials, food, and employment opportunities to many people and industries all over the world.
Why is agriculture important?
Agriculture is a source of income for a huge percentage of the global population especially in the developing nations. In such economies, agriculture employs as much as 70 percent of the population. Agriculture provides employment to such a large portion of the population in such countries because of the lack of development of non-agricultural activities. In developed countries most people don’t rely on agriculture as a source of employment.
A stable agricultural sector in any country guarantees food security. Food security is critical to the success of any nation. Food security eliminates malnourishment, which has been traditionally believed to be one of the key problems that developing countries face. Food security is also the first step towards the development of a country.
Agriculture provides employment to a huge number of people globally, which contributes to economic development. Once a huge portion of the population is employed, the national income level rises and the standard of living improves. The rapid pace of development in the agricultural sector provides increased motivation for development and progressive outlook, which eventually contributes to the economic development.
Source of Raw Materials
Agriculture is a valuable source of raw materials used in various industry including tobacco, sugar, jute fabric, cotton, cocoa, etc. In addition, many other industries such as rice husking, and processing of vegetables and fruits also obtain their raw materials primarily from agriculture.
Foreign Exchange Earnings
Agricultural products such as coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, spices, etc. constitute the major export items for countries that depend on agriculture. The smooth development of the agricultural sector translates to a reduction in imports and a considerable increase in exports. This in turn translates to improved balance of payment and helps those economies earn foreign exchange. The foreign exchange earned can be used to import other essential raw materials, machinery, inputs, and other critical infrastructure for the support of the economic development of countries.
Agriculture might have been primarily used for the production of essential food crops in the past but the situation is very different. The term agriculture has grown to become more inclusive to highlight its significance to the overall global economy.