Positive and negative effects of agriculture
Agriculture or farming is one of the principal modes of livelihood for a significant section of the world’s population. In fact, agriculture is the sole mode of sustenance for the entire world since we rely for our food chiefly on agricultural produce. However, the scope of agriculture goes beyond producing food for the entire world; it has significant effects on the environment and the ecosystem. As a result, it is necessary that farming be undertaken carefully and responsibly, since incorrect farming techniques can result in severe damage to the ecosystem. On the other hand, the importance of agriculture on the world as a whole cannot be undermined. In this article, we will take a look at both sides of the coin.
Positive effects of agriculture:
Let us start by looking at the positive effects agriculture has on the world.
The most obvious benefit of agriculture is, of course, production of food. As humans, we are accustomed to relying for our food on both plants and animals. While a major portion of the population is carnivorous, that is, dependant on animal meat and their byproducts for food, no diet is really complete without agricultural produce. On the other hand, a large section of the human population is completely vegetarian, which means that they rely for their food completely on agricultural produce. And let us not forget that a huge number of animals also rely heavily on agriculture. For this reason, proper farming techniques must be adopted; the better and more refined the technique, the larger the produce.
Sustains the economy
Agriculture is also extremely important for the economy. History of colonization and invasion is proof of how agriculturally rich regions became a target for imperialist forces. This is because a great agricultural produce is synonymous with national wealth. Countries that have a rich legacy of farming are the ones that earn a huge income from exports, and become self sufficient enough to not have to import food for personal consumption. Besides, the agricultural industry creates employment for a staggering number of people across the world, people for whom their sole income source is what they produce in their farmlands. Apart from that, the agricultural industry is not just about the farmers; it is equally about the manufacturers that produce farming equipment and accessories like pesticides and the like.
Sustains the ecosystem
Agriculture is also incredibly important to the ecosystem. Low-impact farming and traditional grazing of livestock, for instance, have helped to maintain the permanent grasslands in Romania. Besides, agricultural systems like organic farming help create natural habitats for a wide variety of species such as waterfowl and pollinators. Again, land that is set apart for agricultural purposes are prevented from being urbanized, which again helps the ecosystem by maintaining the much needed green cover of the earth.
Negative effects of agriculture:
As mentioned before, even a supremely beneficial activity such as agriculture can turn disastrous is not undertaken responsibly. Let us find out why.
Poor land allotment
The word population is constantly increasing, and it is important to find place for them to live in. A lot of land is preserved for agricultural purposes only, and that restricts the area we can use to accommodate the living quarters of the constantly increasing human population. This is leading to cramped conditions in already overcrowded urban settlements. This is a vicious cycle, since farmland allotment is mandatory in a world in which a huge population needs to be fed. As such, it is important to maintain a balance between land allotment.
Accelerates habitat loss
Agriculture is also extremely responsible for habitat loss and disruption of the ecosystem if not undertaken properly. A very good example is the jhoom technique of farming undertaken in certain parts of India. The jhoom technique involves cutting of mountains to plant rocks, and burning of the used areas when the crop is reaped. This results in considerable deforestation and habitat loss for a large number of topical fauna, due to which any of these species are currently extinct or facing extinction.
Wipes out biodiversity
Agriculture affects biodiversity in a great way. Large areas that were once home to a very wide range of flora and fauna are now being used to cultivate only one or two types of crops. For instance, large parts of the Amazon rainforest have been cleared to cultivate only soybeans, since the demand is huge and the area is very suitable for growing the crop. Similarly, large areas in the sea are being cordoned off to shelter only a certain type of fish or other marine animal, even when the area was previously a sanctuary for a wide variety of marine life.
Agriculture is definitely indistinguishable from human existence. Life on this plant would not sustain, especially with the current population, if farming is not undertaken. It is, therefore, our responsibility to ensure that we undertake farming in a responsible manner that would contribute positively to our life and to the ecosystem.