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India is predominantly an agricultural country. Different forms of agriculture are practiced in the country which depends upon a variety of physical, environmental and socio-economic conditions. One of the main types of farming include subsistence farming which is practised with the sole aim for meeting the needs of the farmer’s family. It is characterized by the usage of household labour and low levels of technology which results in smaller outputs. It can be further classified into intensive subsistence and primitive subsistence farming.
a) Primitive subsistence farming - One type of agriculture that is practiced in the country is primitive subsistence farming and is one of the oldest methods used for growing and harvesting crops. In this form, the producer lives directly on what he produces. It is fully dependent on natural environmental factors along with family labor and there is no involvement of technology in any form. It includes shifting cultivation and nomadic herding.
• Shifting Cultivation - The ‘slash and burn’ method of farming also known as shifting cultivation is practised in areas of high rainfall and accelerated vegetation growth. In this system, forest land is cleared for raising crops until the soil loses its fertility. It is mainly practised by tribal people in the forested areas of Amazon basin, tropical Africa, parts of southeast Asia and Northeast India. In India it is known as ‘Jhumming cultivation’.
• Nomadic Herding – It is characterized by the movement of herdsmen through different places along with their animals for fodder and water. This movement occurs along defined routes which are determined by climatic constrains and terrain. Sheep, camel, yak and goat providing milk, meat, wool hides and other products are commonly reared. It is mostly practised in the semi-arid and arid regions of Sahara, Central Asia and different parts of India like Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir.
b) Intensive subsistence farming - Intensive subsistence farming produces only food crop for sustaining the high population and domestic animals. It is characterized by small land holdings which are cultivated by the farmer and his family using simple tools and more labor. Favourable climate consisting of high number of sunny days and fertile soils allow the growth of more than one crop annually on the same plot. Rice cultivation in the eastern regions of India is a type of intensive subsistence farming as they are cultivated on small plots of land, with high manual labor. Graduated terrace steps in the hilly regions of India used for agriculture is another example of this type of farming. It is also prevalent in the high populated areas of the monsoon regions of south, southeast and east Asia.
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