Whenever you have your meal, do you wonder where the food comes from? Who grows the cotton to make the shirt you
Agriculture is the business of growing crops, raising animals for food and raw materials for other industries. For example, a farmer grows wheat for food and also sells the wheat to the factories to make it into flour. A cotton farmer sells the cotton he grows on his farm to the textile factory. “Arable farming” is the growing of corps and “pastoral farming” refers to the raising of animals.
“THE IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE”
1. SOURCE OF FOOD SUPPLY:
People depend on agriculture not just for raw materials but also for their food supply. Food is necessary to satisfy hunger
and to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. Rice, for example, is the staple food of at least half of the world’s population. It provides the necessary carbohydrates, fiber, mineral salts and vitamins. With an expanding world population, the agricultural sector is under tremendous stress to increase its output.
2. EMPLOYMENT OF LABOR:
Agriculture is responsible for employing a large percentage of the population, especially in the developing (poorer) countries. The labor is either directly or indirectly linked to agriculture. In Pakistan, for example, the agricultural sector employs nearly half of the country’s labor force. About 67 per cent of the population lives in the rural area and they either directly or indirectly rely on agricultural for their livelihood.
3. FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNER:
The sale of agricultural produce in overseas market earns a country foreign exchange or foreign money. This foreign exchange can then be used to purchase goods that the country needs but are not produced locally. Pakistan, for example, sells cotton to the countries in the European Union and earns Euros in exchange. The Euros is then used to buy machinery that is produced in the European Union but not in Pakistan.
4. SOLUTION FOR POVERTY AND HUNGER:
In the World development report 2007, it is stressed that investment in agriculture be increased to try to alleviate extreme poverty and hunger. About 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries and are heavily reliant on agriculture. Agriculture based countries are home to 417 million rural people, 170 million of whom live on less than US $1 a day. Most of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa where 65 percent of the people are employed in agriculture. Improvement in agriculture is therefore a way out of poverty for these rural poor.
RICE GROWING IN PAKISTAN:
Rice is a major export of Pakistan, after wheat and cotton. Its export earns 13 percent of the country’s foreign exchange. It is the second most important source of foreign exchange, the first being cotton. Pakistan’s export makes up 10 percent of the world’s total rice trade and 25 percent of the world’s trade in Basmati rice.
The main rice growing areas in Pakistan are in Punjab and Sindh provinces in the fertile Indus Valley. There are many varieties of the rice and they grow well in different soils and climates. The common varieties grown in Punjab are the Basmati rice and the IRRI coarse rice. The common IRRI coarse rice is grown mainly in the Sindh province. The Basmati rice is grown in the northeastern part of Punjab, at the foothills of the Himalayas. This area is known as the “rice bowl”. It is famous for the production of fragrant Basmati rice. Although Basmati rice takes longer to mature and the yield is low, it is grown because of its high market value. It also has good quality straw for livestock and needs less fertilizers. Basmati rice covers 52 percent of the total rice area in Pakistan. Rice in Pakistan is grown in a rice-wheat production system. It means that the farmer alternate the growing of rice and wheat. Rice is grown in the monsoon months and wheat in the cooler winter months. In Punjab, there is sufficient water to grow rice in the kharif (summer) season from May to November and wheat is grown in the Rabi (winter) months from November to April. Rice is a crop which is highly dependent an annual rainfall patterns. Any change in the rainfall pattern can easily affect its production. Although the Indus Valley is blessed with the five rivers, Pakistan is in the subtropical and semi-arid climatic zones; water supply is an important consideration in agriculture. 90 percent of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on Irrigation. Irrigation is the artificial watering of land, allowing plants to grow in dry areas. The Indus Valley is well-known for its excellent network of irrigation system (IBIS) is the largest contiguous system in the world. The three major reservoirs in the valley that supply the needed water are Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma. The Indus River receives water from glacier and snow melt and rainfall from outside the Indus plain. The IBIS consists of a network of main canals, distributaries, and minor and outlet water courses. The farmers obtain the required water for cultivation from community channels that are linked to the government-controlled irrigation system. Outside the irrigated region, farmers rely on open wells, tube wells and water pumps to draw water from underground. Water is essential during the initial stages of rice growing, as the fields have to be flooded for ploughing in preparation for the rice seedlings. The flooded fields are drained only a few weeks before the rice is harvested. An abundant supply of water does not only ensure healthy grown but also rice that is of good quality when harvested.
“PROCESSES IN THE GROWING OF RICE”
1. Preparation of the main field:
2. Ploughing the field:
5. Fertilizing and weeding:
1. Preparation of the main field:
The farmer repairs any mud bunds that are damaged. Bunds are raised mud embankments built around the rice field to hold the water when it is flooded.
2. Ploughing the fields:
The farmer uses either a buffalo or a mechanical plough to loosen the soil. The floodwater helps to soften the soil. The fields are leveled, using a bucket-type soil scrapers or the laser leveling technique.
Paddy is generally grown by planting the seeds in a small nursery. The seedlings are transplanted to the main fields when they are 25 to 35 days old.
The main field is flooded for transplanting of the seedlings. Transplanting is usually done by hand and is very labor- intensive. Due to the lack of labor, some farmers have to resort to using a special machine them transplant the
seedlings. The seedlings are allowed to grow in the fields that are kept flooded under about 8 to 10 percent centimeters of water mainly to reduce weeds. This puddle irrigation requires a huge amount of water.
5. Fertilizing and weeding:
To make sure that the nutrients are absorbed by the plants, the flooded field is drained before fertilizer is added. In the commercial farms, mostly chemical fertilizer is used. Small subsistence farms usually use manure that is obtained from the animals on the farm. Fertilizer, however, increases weed growth hence weeding may be necessary at this stage. Pesticides are also used to protect the rice from pests.
A few weeks before the rice is harvested, the field is drained. The rice crop is allowed to ripen, and harvested by cutting.
Newcastle University was rated as ‘University of the Year 2002′ and The Sunday Times said that “The School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development is rated top for both teaching and research.”
In 2009, the University was awarded the prestigious Queens Anniversary Prize.
The National Students’ Survey conducted in 2006 of our final year students proved that they were ‘very satisfied at the quality of the course.’
By: Aqsa Riaz