Agro Products embraces a broad all-inclusive category of products related to AGRICULTURE. It includes a comprehensive range of raw and finished goods under the classifications of plants, animals and other life forms. The term 'agro' has stemmed from the Greek word 'agros' meaning field, which has led to its current usage meaning anything that falls under the 'agricultural' category. Agro products are the life force, the very source of survival for the human kind. It is not only that man breathes with the support of food but a major chunk of the world population is also dependent on agriculture as their source of survival. An approximate 36% of the world's workers are engaged in agriculture with India's 65% of the population being directly and indirectly employed in this sector. Browse through the A-Z of Agro Products at this site and stay updated of the gro industry.
Agriculture may be defined as an integrated system of techniques to control the growth and harvesting of animal and vegetables. It is an uncomplicated endeavor comprising of technical and practical processes that helps in the maintenance of the ecological balance and protects human resources; and most importantly it is a viable food production system.
Human beings started practicing farming/cultivation some 10,000 years ago. Since then, agriculture as a practice and as a process have undergone substantial changes which have had consequential impact on human progress and lifestyle. Over the ages these developments in agriculture have radically transformed human ecology, society, organizations, demography and even art and religion and have to a certain extent determined the course of scientific progression.
Early men gave up their hunter-gatherer lifestyle after they started cultivation of plants as well as domestication animals. Rapid developments were witnessed over the years though technology and crop enhancement options were not available during the successive periods. With the industrial revolution, the entire facet of agriculture changed. The development and easy availability of agricultural techniques led to increased agricultural productivity. The industrial revolution is thus immediately followed by the agricultural revolution across the world. Since then variety has been noticed leading to a boom in the agro products sector, thereby giving birth to innumerable companies, organizations, institutes and more.
With the introduction of eco-friendly pesticides and fertilizers, crop yields increased to a remarkable level. The early 20th century witnessed the usage of synthetic nitrogen, along with mined rock phosphate, pesticides and mechanization including the synthesizing of ammonium nitrate. Rice, wheat, and corn were the main crops that gave the best yield, thus introducing the Green Revolution. Export of technologies, pesticides and fertilizers from the developed countries to the developing countries, further increased the yields in all regions almost equally.
Organic farming, a concept introduced in the 1900s, that overused pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, stayed dormant for several decades. This was because the cultivation process damaged the long-term fertility of the soil. The European Union first certified organic food in 1991 and then began research, exploration, use of alternative technologies like integrated pest management and selective breeding. Today the markets of developed and also developing countries across the world are flooded with genetically modified food.
Forms of Agriculture
Depending upon the purpose for which food is produced and livestock is raised, agriculture can be divided into two groups. These two are:
This form of agriculture can be definedas production of a certain amount of food that is enough to sustain the family producing food. The farmer engaged in such type of farming does not produce in order to sell the food to the market, but retains it for himself and his family. It is very rare to have surplus amount of produce in subsistence agriculture and therefore there is no scope for any commercial profit. Subsistence agriculture is practiced without buying any fertilizers. This type of agriculture can survive for a longer duration in those area where there is sparse population; but in densely populated areas, it can have serious repercussions in the form of damage to the environment and depletion of soil nutrients
The practice of producing crops and raising livestock for the purpose of selling the end products in the market for gaining monetary benefits is termed as 'commercial agriculture'. It is defined as the production of those products and commodities that can be consumed by the end users through wholesale and retail distribution. Commercial agriculture includes raising of livestock but does not include crops that are grown solely for consumption within the household.
Environmental Impact of Agriculture
It has been observed that intensive farming can alter the natural environment leading to some major problems. Following are the ways by which agriculture can affect nature:
- Increasing area being brought under cultivation can have a negative impact on the wildlife and can completely reduce wildlife habitat
- Surplus use of fertilizers can pollute rivers and lakes
- It can hugely affect the flora and fauna
- There can be depletion of mineral in the soil
- Agriculture can also create bad odor from the agricultural wastes
- It can lead to soil erosion.
Various Kinds of Agricultural Practices
Farmers in India and around the world have now resorted to more advanced techniques in farming that can lessen the environmental degradation. The various forms of agricultural practices are:
- Organic Agriculture: In this form of agriculture, one largely does away with synthetic or man made fertilizers and pesticides and adopts those techniques which are ecologically sustainable by using biological rocesses. This is done mainly to have a fertile soil and a healthy livestock
- Industrial Agriculture: It is defined as a modernized form of farming in which the farmer uses the services of advanced machines and tractors instead of labour of humans and animals. The method of industrial agriculture is used mostly in the developed countries. The method of industrial agriculture comprise constant innovation in farming methods and agricultural machinery
- Crop Agriculture: This involves meticulous cultivation of food, fiber, etc. It produces not just food but also products which are highly used in industries or medicines. Crop agriculture first came into existence during the Stone Age when hunters made a switch from hunting to a more sophisticated culture of species which were favored.
Categories of Agro Products
The various agro foods can be categorized as cereals, seeds, spices, fruits, dehydrated fruits, vegetables, dehydrated vegetables, dry fruits & nuts, edible oil, flowers, fertilizers, tea & coffee, oil crops, aromatic plants, herbs, essential oils, floral absolutes, coconut and coir products, potpourri, processed food & snacks, pickles $ condiments, pet-use products, milk & dairy products, meat & poultry food, marine food supplies, baby foods, animal fodder, etc.
India is the second largest producer of food in the world. Whether it is canned food, processed food,
food grains, dairy products, frozen food, fish, meat, poultry, the Indian agro industry has a huge potential, the significance and growth of which will never cease.
Origin of Agriculture
The beginning of 'agro' or 'agriculture' marks the beginning of 'civilized' or 'sedentary' society. Climate change and increase in population during the Holocene Era (10,000 BC onwards) led to the evolution of agriculture. During the Bronze Age (9000 BC onwards), domestication of plants and animals transformed the profession of the early homo sapiens from hunting and gathering to selective hunting, herding and finally to settled agriculture. Eventually the agricultural practices enabled people to establish permanent settlements and expand urban based societies. Cultivation marks the transition from nomadic pre-historic societies to the settled neolithic lifestyle some time around 7000 BC.
As per the modern definition of agriculture which would be' an aggregate of large scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and use of a specialized labor force', the title 'inventors of agriculture' would go to the Sumerians, starting ca. 5,500 BC.
- Originally fields were cleared of weeds and prepared for planting by hand at great effort, using primitive hoes or digging sticks
- The invention of the scratch plow (also called 'plough') about 6,000 years ago was a great labor-saving device for humans - the beginning of systematic substitution of other forms of energy, in this case animal power, for human muscles
- The Muslim Farmers in North Africa and the Near East of the Medieval world are credited with inventions of extensive irrigation based on hydraulic and hydrostatic principles such as norias, water mills, water raising machines, dams and reservoirs
- The Renaissance saw the innovation of the three field system of crop rotation and wide spread usage of the moldboard plow
- The early phase of Industrial Revolution witnessed new agricultural practices like enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation and selective breeding
- The science-driven innovations of 19th and 20th centuries led to the mechanization of the cultivation, i.e. the use of tractors.
Agriculture in India
Agriculture in India, the preeminent sector of the economy, is the source of livelihood of almost two thirds of the workforce in the country. The contribution of agriculture and allied activities to India's economic growth in recent years has been no less significant than that of industry and services. The importance of agriculture to the country is best summed up by this statement: 'If agriculture survives, India survives'.
Indian agricultural production in most parts of the country is closely related to skillful and wise water-management practices. Most of the agricultural practices in India confined to the few monsoon months. During the monsoon season, India is usually endowed with generous rainfall; although not infrequently, this bountiful monsoon turns into a terror, causing uncontrollable floods in parts of the country. In a matter of antithesis, every few years, the monsoon is erratic and deficient, leading to drought and the possibility of famine. This explains the inextricable link between Indian Agriculture and effective water-management practices known across different parts of India since the ancient times.
According to the history of the Indian agriculture water-management practices are known to have either been taken up by the state, or by local village communities since the earliest times. Regional rulers, or local representatives of the state were generally obliged to allocate a certain percentage of the agricultural taxes on building and managing water-storage, water-harvesting and/or water-diverting structures which facilitated a second crop, and provided water for drinking and other purposes in the long dry season.
The British rule witnessed the destruction of century-old water management structures and a virtual wreckage of the knowledge systems and cultural traditions that had helped build and preserve these water-management techniques over the centuries in states such as Bihar, Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and others. Owing to this, during the colonial era, famines were frequent and famine commissions were abundant. The growth rate in food production during the 1900-1947 period was hardly 0.1 per cent. Most of the important institutional developments in agriculture emanated from the recommendations of famine commissions. The great Bengal Famine of 1942-43 provided the backdrop to India’s Independence.
The stagnant performance of agriculture in India during the colonial period was turned into a sustained growth since 1947, with a stronger performance in India especially in terms of per-capita food production.
Early Years of Independence
The early years of Independence witnessed accentuation on the development of infrastructure for scientific agriculture. The steps taken included the establishment of fertilizer and pesticide factories, construction of large multi-purpose irrigation-cum-power projects, organization of community development and national extension programmes and, above all, the starting of agricultural universities as well as new agricultural research institutions across the length and breadth of the country. However, the growth in food production was inadequate to meet the consumption needs of the growing population which necessitated food imports.
Policy makers and planners, in order to address the concerns about national independence, security, and political stability realized that self-sufficiency in food production was an absolute prerequisite. This perception led to a program of agricultural improvement called the Intensive Agriculture District Programme (IADP) and eventually to the Green Revolution. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was set up. All these steps led to a quantum jump in the productivity and production of crops.
White and Yellow Revolution
The Green revolution generated a mood of self-confidence in our agricultural capability, which led to the next phase characterized by the Technology Mission. Under this approach, the focus was on conservation, cultivation, consumption, and commerce. An end-to-end approach was introduced involving attention to all links in the production-consumption chain, owing to which progress was steady and sometimes striking as in the case of milk and egg production.
Indian agriculture continues to face internal and external challenges. While monsoon dependence, fragmented land-holding, low level of input usage, antiquated agronomic practices, lack of technology application and poor rural infrastructure are some of the key internal constraints that deter a healthy growth, while subsidies and barriers have been distorting international agricultural trade, rendering agri-exports from developing nations such as India uncompetitive.
The objective of every policy initiative has been to make Indian agriculture globally competitive — by investing it with the ability to produce globally acceptable quality at globally comparable cost.