Plowing Up New Soil With World Agriculture Essay
Since agriculture began to be developed nearly 10,000 years ago, people throughout the world have discovered the food value of wild plants and animals, and domesticated and bred them (Early Civilization). Today, people go to the market or grocery store to pick up cereal, rice, bread, meat, fruit, vegetables, and olives. People hardly ever think of where the food generally comes from. Most of the food that is found in the grocery store wouldn’t be possible without world agriculture.
Farming used to be primarily a family enterprise and to a large extent still is in most countries.
In the more developed areas, however, more efficient large-scale operations are overtaking the smaller family farms. These large farms usually specialize in one crop or one type of crop and often are run by giant parent cooperation’s. Such farms are part if the current trend toward more controlled and cost-effective agriculture. The goal in agriculture has almost always been increased production and decreased labor (Early Civilization). In the early 1900s the American farm, for example, was run by the muscles of people of draft animals. Today machines of great size and complexity accomplish in hours what took many of those people and animals days to complete (Timelines of the Ancient World).
There are still family farmers similar to those of the earlier era in the most industrialized nations, but they are becoming fewer every year. There are also small-scale systems in many emerging nations of the world. But the trend almost everywhere is toward larger farms that are mechanized and utilize the latest scientific agricultural methods to provide products more effectively.
In the mid-1990s, 48 percent of the world’s labor force was employed in agriculture. The distribution ranged from 61 percent of the economically active population in Asia to less than 23 percent in the United States and Canada. In Africa the figure was 60 percent; in South America 20 percent; and in Europe, 9 percent.
The farm size varies ubiquitously from region to region. In the 1990s the average for Canadian farms was about 654 acres per farm; for farms in the United States, 469 acres. By comparison, the average size of a single land holding in the Philippines was 6.5 acres. The size also depends on the purpose of the farm (Compton 95). Commercial farming, or production for cash, is usually on large equities.
Single-crop plantations normally produce tea, rubber, and cocoa. Wheat farms are most competent when they comprise 1000s of acres and they can be managed by teams of people and machines. Livestock farms and Australian Sheep Stations must be immense enough to provide grazing for thousands of animals. The agricultural plots of Chinese communes and the cooperative farms held by Peruvian communities and other necessarily large agricultural units, as well as were the farms that were operated and owned by state employees in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Much of the foreign exchange earned by a single country may be derived from a discrete agricultural commodity; for example, Denmark specializes in dairy products, Sri Lanka relies on tea, Australia in wool, and New Zealand and Argentina in meat products. In the United States, wheat, corn, and soybeans have become major foreign exchange commodities in recent decades.
Each individual country has an importance as an exporter of agricultural products relying on many factors. Among them is the possibility that the country is too small developed industrially to produce manufactured goods in sufficient quality on technical sophistication. Some agricultural exporters include Ghana, with cocoa, and Myanmar (Burma), with rice. However, a well-developed country may produce surpluses that are not needed by its own population; for example the United States, Canada, and some Western European countries (Compton 95).
Because each nation depends on agriculture not only for food but for national income and raw materials for industry as well, trade in agriculture is a continuing international concern. It is governed by international agreements such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and by trading regions such as the European Community.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations .