Agriculture is the science and practice of cultivating the soil, growing and harvesting crops and rearing animals with the aim of producing food and raw materials for the use of human beings. It supplies the three basic human needs – food, clothing and shelter, as long as man must eat to live, agriculture will continue to be a basic human activity.
As a science, agriculture deals with the systematic study of plants and animals and how they live in their environment and seeks to provide suitable natural conditions for them so as to produce the best quality products which are used directly by man or used in industrial production.
BRANCHES OF AGRICULTURE
1. Animal Science or Animal Husbandry or Animal Production: This is the rearing of animals to provide meat for human consumption. It ensures proper housing, feeding and health care requirement of farm animals.
2. Animal Health or Veterinary Medicine: This sector takes care of animal health, ensure they are disease-free and well looked after. Medicines and injections are given to the animals to keep them healthy.
3. Soil Science: Soil science is the study of soil as a natural resource to understand it formation and fertility properties and the best plant that can grow on it. Soil science can help improve the soil quality with the use of fertilizers and manure.
4. Crop Production: This include
(a) Agronomy (study of crops)
(b) Crop pathology (study of crop diseases)
(c) Entomology (study of insect pests of crops)
5. Agricultural Economics and Farm Management: This deals with information on prices, markets, agricultural policy and economic institutions such as leasing and credit. It focuses on the exercise of choice as to how best to apply the resources of production in the agricultural industry. It also strive to meet the objectives of farm managers and maximize the satisfaction of agricultural consumers.
6. Agricultural Engineering: Agricultural engineering is the planning, supervising and managing dairy, construction of irrigation, drainage systems and flood control. It helps in interpreting research results and implements new agricultural practices.
7. Forestry and Wild Life Conservation: Forestry is the act of creating and managing forests to meet desired needs for human and environmental benefits. It is practiced in plantation and natural stands. Wild life conservation is the protection of wild plants and animals and their habitats. It is aimed at stopping their eradication and ensure they are around for future generations to enjoy. This practice underscores the importance of wildlife for humans.
9. Fishery: Fishery is the area of agriculture which deals with the production and management of fish and other aquatic animals of agricultural importance. Such aquatic animals include shrimps, prawns, crabs, periwinkles, oysters and squids. In this case, artificial ponds are often created where they are supplied food until they are big enough for consumption or sale. The animals are rich sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals.
IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE
1. Provision of Food: Agriculture supply humans with foods which are essential for human survival on earth. All human foods come from agriculture such as yam, beans, meat, fish, milk, honey etc.
2 Provision of Materials for Clothing: Cottons are gotten agriculture which is used for cloth making.
3. Employment for the working population: Agriculture is the primary source of employment and the highest employer of labour in developing countries of the world.
4. It Serves as a Source of Foreign Exchange: Agriculture is the main source of earning foreign exchange through agricultural exports like timber and dairy products.
5. Generation of Income for Farmers: When farmers sell their farm produce, they earn income for living.
6. It Produces Materials for Shelter: Building materials are gotten from agriculture such as wood, sand and other inputs.
7. Provision of Facilities for Recreation and Tourism: Agriculture drives tourists from around the world. Tourists visits game reserve to see wild many animals.
8. Development of Town: Agriculture helps in town development when adequate investments are invested in it.