Agriculture is not only basic to human existence but also an important factor in determining the complexity of the global socio-economic change from the original, simple, and primitive hunter-gather cultures.
While the latter ancient practices ensure a subsistent food and fibre supply, intensive and industrial farming guarantees large-scale supplies of raw and processed foods, feeds, fibre, fuel, and other goods for community consumption and incomes, and foreign exchange earnings for national development as well as global advancement. The role of agriculture in human development can, therefore, not be over-emphasized.
Roles of Agriculture
1. Provision of the basic food requirements of human populations.
2. It is the predominant occupation of the working population, especially in agrarian nations.
3. An important way of life, culture, and custom of the people. Customs and festivals are observed in consonance with agricultural seasons, activities, and products in most rural communities. Hunting in both agricultural and wild areas is a way of life, and hobby, in rural settings.
4. The major source of income, especially for the rural populace.
5. Provision of raw materials for manufacturing industries, such as feed mills, textile factories, vegetable oil mills, packaging, biopharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, and leather.
6. Agricultural experts are of great importance in foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.
Global Contribution of Agriculture
About 42% of the World’s laborers are employed in agriculture, thus making it by far the most common occupation. Despite this, the agricultural production sector accounts for less than 5% of the Gross World Production, GWP (i.e. 5% of the aggregate of all national Gross Domestic Products, GDP).
Generally, agriculture employs about 70% of the active labor force of the population, and this serves to augment the earnings from local produce sales. The raising of livestock (principally goats, sheep, cattle, and poultry) and artisanal fisheries are also significant for income generation.
New yam festivals and most traditional weddings and customary ceremonies are usually observed during farm seasons.
Several industries use local agricultural products in their production operations. These include textile factories (cotton), oil mills and soap factories (groundnut, soybean, and palm oil), packaging (jute, sisal), biopharmaceuticals (legal, illegal drugs), industrial chemicals (starch, sugar, and alcohols), plywood factory (timber), paper mills (timber), beverage industries (cocoa, coffee, and tea), canning factory (tomato, sweet peppers, beef), leather factory (hides) and tyre factory (rubber).
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