For decades, agriculture has been associated with production of essential food crops. At present, agriculture above and beyond farming includes forestry, dairy, fruit cultivation, poultry, bee keeping, mushroom, arbitrary, etc. Today, processing, marketing and distribution of crops and livestock products etc. are all acknowledged as part of current agriculture.Thus, agriculture could be referred to as the production, processing, promotion and distribution agricultural products. Agriculture plays a critical role in the entire life of a given economy. Agriculture is the backbone of economic system of a given country. In addition to providing food and raw material, agriculture also provides employment opportunities to very large percentage of population. Below are the importances of agriculture:
Source of Livelihood
The main source livelihood of many people is agriculture. Approximately 70 % of the people directly rely on agriculture as a mean of living. This high percentage in agriculture is as a result of none development of non-agricultural activities to absorb the fast growing population. However, most people in developed countries do not engage in agriculture.
Contribution to National revenue
Agriculture is the main source of national income for most developing countries. However, for the developed countries, agriculture contributes a smaller per cent age to their national income.
Supply of Food as well as Fodder
Agricultural sector provides fodder for domestic animals .Cow provides people with milk which is a form of protective food. Moreover, livestock also meets people’s food requirements.
Significance to the International Trade
Agricultural products like sugar, tea, rice, spices, tobacco, coffee etc. constitute the major items of exports of countries that rely on agriculture. If there is smooth development practice of agriculture, imports are reduced while export increases considerably. This helps to reduce countries unfavorable balance of payments as well as saving foreign exchange. This amount may be well used to import other essential inputs, machinery, raw-material, and other infrastructure that is helpful for the support of country’s economic development.
The growth of agricultural sector contributes to marketable surplus. Many people engage in manufacturing, mining as well as other non- agricultural sector as the nation develops. All these individuals rely on food production that they might meet from the nation’s marketable surplus. As agricultural sector development takes place, production increases and this leads to expansion of marketable surplus. This may be exported to other nations.
Source of Raw Material
The main source of raw materials to major industries such as cotton and jute fabric, sugar, tobacco, edible as well as non-edible oils is agriculture. Moreover, many other industries such as processing of fruits as well as vegetables and rice husking get their raw material mainly from agriculture.
Significance in Transport
Bulks of agricultural products are transported by railways and roadways from farm to factories. Mostly, internal trade is in agricultural products. Moreover, the revenue of the government, to a larger extent, relies on the success of agricultural sector.
Foreign Exchange Resources
The nation’s export trade depends largely on agricultural sector. For example, agricultural commodities such as jute, tobacco, spices, oilseeds, raw cotton, tea as well as coffee accounts for approximately 18 % of the entire value of exports of a country. This demonstrates that agriculture products also continue to be important source of earning a country foreign exchange.
Great Employment Opportunities
Construction of irrigation schemes, drainage system as well as other such activities in the agricultural sector is important as it provides larger employment opportunities. Agriculture sector provides more employment opportunities to the labor force that reduce the high rate of unemployment in developing countries caused by the fast growing population.
Since agriculture employs many people it contributes to economic development. As a result, the national income level as well as people’s standard of living is improved. The fast rate of development in agriculture sector offers progressive outlook as well as increased motivation for development. Hence, it aids to create good atmosphere for overall economic development of a country. Therefore, economic development relies on the agricultural growth rate.
Source of Saving
Development in agriculture may also increase savings. The rich farmers we see today started saving particularly after green revolution. This surplus quantity may be invested further in the agriculture sector to develop the sector.
A stable agricultural sector ensures a nation of food security. The main requirement of any country is food security. Food security prevents malnourishment that has traditionally been believed to be one of the major problems faced by the developing countries. Most countries rely on agricultural products as well as associated industries for their main source of income.