Tropical Agriculture

Tropical Agriculture

Worldwide more human beings gain their livelihood from agriculture than any other endeavor; the majority are self-employed subsistence farmers living in the tropics. While growing food for local consumption is the core of tropical agriculture, cash crops (normally crops grown for export) are also included in the definition.

When people discuss the tropics, it is normal to use generalized labels to group together similar tropical areas. Common terms would include the humid-tropics (rainforests); the arid-tropics (deserts and dry areas); or monsoon zones (those areas that have well defined wet/dry seasons and experience monsoons). Such labeling is very useful when discussing agriculture, because what works in one area of the world will normally work in a similar area somewhere else, even if that area is on the opposite side of the globe.

Most temperate zone agricultural techniques are inappropriate for tropical areas. The second half of the 20th century saw many attempts to duplicate in the tropics farming practices that had been successful in temperate climates. Due to differences in climate, soils, and patterns of land ownership, these largely failed. When they did succeed they tended to heavily favor farmers with substantial land holdings, as a high percentage of temperate agricultural practices are economically "scale-based" and favor large scale production. This in turn pushed many small-scale farmers on to ever more marginal land, as the better quality land was consolidated into larger farms.

Read more about Tropical Agriculture:  Green Revolution, Plant Propagation, Plant Defenses, Slash/mulch, Small-scale Irrigation, Pioneering Crops, Hunger Season, Vulnerability To Climate Change, Common Tropical Horticulture Crops, Common Agricultural Crops

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