Agriculture a Description 111 Scope of Activities

Agriculture is the practice of cultivating the soil, harvesting crops, and raising livestock to produce plants and animals useful to human beings and, in varying degrees, it is the preparation of these products for humans use and their disposal [1]. According to this definition, agriculture includes horticulture, seed production, dairy farming and livestock production (animal husbandry), the management of land that supports these activities [2]. Forestry and fisheries are excluded.

The main activity of agriculture is the production of food. Grigg [3] gives as an example the United States, where 90% of the value of farm products is consumed as food, and 93% of farmland is sown with food crops. Besides food, agriculture provides raw materials such as cotton and wool for clothing, stimulants such as tobacco, coffee, and tea, as well as flowers and rubber.

In many countries, agriculture is not only the main source of food and raw materials, it is the main source of income. For the period 1990-1992, about 48% of the total world labor force was working in agriculture [4]. In the developing countries, this was about 58% and in the industrial countries about 10% of the total labor force [4]. However, the progressive industrialization of agriculture in developing countries will lead to a smaller labor force in these countries in the (near) future. This will have a major impact on the socioeconomic development of rural areas as well as of their agglomerations.

Nevertheless, the figures make clear that agriculture is still the most important human (economic) activity in the world.

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