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Subsistence farming has always been the type of farming where people grow crops or raise animals for their personal use. This is the type of farming where farmers use traditional techniques on a small piece of land to obtain food supply for families. There are some different approaches when it comes to subsistence farming because there are two types: primitive and intensive subsistence farming. So what is the difference between primitive and intensive subsistence farming?
Intensive subsistence farming is more advanced than primitive subsistence farming. Intensive subsistence farming includes the use of modern agricultural inputs like chemical fertilizers and the use of machines whereas in primitive subsistence farming one uses traditional techniques to produce food.
Because intensive subsistence farming and primitive subsistence farming are so different, there will be a different outcome in the end for the farmers. Intensive subsistence farming allows farmers to use modern techniques and technologies to produce more food, while primitive subsistence farming still concentrates on providing food supplies for personal use.
What Is Primitive Subsistence Farming?
Farming and agriculture have always been the main source of food supplies for a lot of people. That is why it is important to mention that there are some parts of the world where some of the oldest forms of agriculture are still active. However, there are some people in the world that have taken a step up from the primitive collection on the economic scale by learning the art of domesticating plants. That is why their economy has evolved into a primitive culture.
This type of agriculture is self-sufficient which means that the farmers grow food for themselves and their families. There are some cases where some small surpluses can be exchanged or sold for cash. That is why the resulting economy is static with little chance of improvement, but there is a high degree of rural independence as farmers are not tied to homeowners or shopping centers.
Primitive subsistence agriculture does not rely on chemical fertilizers and farmers instead use more natural and traditional techniques. Most farmers also have animals, such as chickens, goats, and cows. The manure from these animals is used to fertilize the plants which are also very specific for primitive subsistence farming.
In terms of the farming methods and techniques used, primitive subsistence farming varies a lot from other types of agriculture. It is important to mention that primitive subsistence farming mostly relies on manual labor because all the work is done by the family that lives on the farm. Also, farmers may use animals that they have on the farm, and simple machines as well and incorporate them in the work on the land.
Primitive subsistence farming does not use pesticides or any chemical fertilizers, they rely on natural predators of pests to control the pest population.
Primitive Subsistence Farming Characteristics
One of the main characteristics of primitive subsistence farming is that the sites for the lands are usually chosen in the virgin forest by experienced elders. Many of these lands are located in remote interiors, away from major population centers.
One must mention that the forests are usually cleared by fire. The ashes add to soil fertility which is great for the growth of plants. The trees that are not burned down are usually cut by men or abandoned to decompose naturally. This type of agriculture is called slash-and-burn agriculture.
These lands, the cultivated spots are usually very small, about 1-3 acres, and are dispersed in their distribution and separated from each other by dense forests or bushes as well.
One of the main characteristics of primitive subsistence farming is that this type of agriculture is made with very primitive tools such as sticks and hoes. Also, farmers work without the aid of machines or even dried animals. That is why it is needed much manual labor to produce food for personal use.
In primitive subsistence farming, the main crops that are grown are usually starchy foods such as tapioca, cassava, yams, corn, millet, mountain rice, beans, and bananas. It is good to mention that these crops are sown at calculated intervals, often between other plants, so that the crops can be staggered to provide food all year round. These types of crops are usually practiced on all farms.
What Is Intensive Subsistence Farming?
The type of farming that is practiced in areas of a high density of population where the pressure of population is high on agricultural land is called intensive subsistence farming. There are three main features of intensive subsistence farming. The main characteristic of this kind of agriculture is labor-intensive farming. There is a need for a lot of manual labor to take care of crops or animals.
As opposed to primitive subsistence farming, intensive subsistence farming uses high doses of biochemical inputs, and irrigation is used for obtaining higher production as well. There are some pesticides or chemical fertilizers being used to enable better care for the crops which gives better results in the end. To conclude, this type of agriculture uses high inputs of labor, pesticides, fertilizers, and capital in relation to the size of the land.
These chemical fertilizers that are used often add inorganic nutrients to the soil to increase yield and plant size. It is also common for farmers to use pesticides, and most pesticides help increase yield by killing pests that are harming or consuming the crops.
It is important to mention that the farm size is small and uneconomical due to the division of land. Usually, this land has been subdivided through many generations and thus have become extremely small and often uneconomic to run. This is the characteristic that is the same with primitive and intensive subsistence farming. However, one must say that farmers take the maximum output from the limited land. These farmers don’t have any alternative source of livelihood which is why there is enormous pressure on agricultural land.
What Is The Difference Between Primitive Subsistence Farming And Intensive Subsistence Farming?
There are some differences between primitive subsistence farming and intensive subsistence farming:
- One must mention that primitive subsistence type of farming is practiced on small patches of land whereas intensive subsistence farming is practiced on bigger landholdings. Still, these lands are not that big and are not as cost-effective as is the case in more advanced farming options practiced across the world.
- The second characteristic of primitive subsistence farming is the use of primitive tools such as hoes, dao, and digging sticks. It is also important to mention that there is a lot of family community labor used to take care of the crops or animals. In the case of intensive subsistence farming, there are modern inputs like HYV seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and more being used to ensure better care of the crops. They are also used to obtain higher productivity as well.
- One of the main and unchangeable characteristics of primitive subsistence farming is that in this type of agriculture, the farmers depend on the monsoons and natural fertility of the soil. On the other hand, in intensive subsistence farming, the farmers use irrigation facilities like tube wells and canal irrigation to enable better productivity and better results in the end.
- Finally, in primitive subsistence farming, land productivity is very low. For the most part, farmers produce food to enable a constant food supply for personal use. In intensive subsistence farming, land productivity is high as it is meant for commercial purposes.