Food Resources

There are various types of food resources available to man. Here we discuss how to improve crop yield and animal husbandry to increase food resources available to man.


Crops are cultivated by human beings for their own benefit. The important types of crops are:
(i) Cereal crops: These plants are cultivated to provide daily energy requirements, e.g. wheat, rice, maize, millets and Sorghum (provide carbohydrates for energy requirement).

(ii) Pulses: These plants are cultivated to fulfil protein requirement, e.g. gram (chana), pea (matar),  black gram (urad), green gram (moong), pigeon pea (arhar), lentil (masoor), etc.

(iii) Oilseed crops: These plants provide the necessary fats and oils, e.g. soybean,   groundnut, sesame, castor, mustard, linseed and sunflower.

(iv) Vegetable, spices and fruits: These plants fulfil the requirement of a variety of vitamins and minerals with small quantities of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, e.g. cabbage, onion, pepper, etc.

(v) Fodder crops: These plants are raised as food for the livestock, e.g. berseem, oats or sudan grass, etc.

Each crop requires different climatic conditions, temperature and photoperiods for their growth and completion of the life cycle. The growth of plants and flowering depend on the duration of sunlight. Plants also need sunlight to perform photosynthesis (photoperiods).

Classification of Crops
Crops are classified on the basis of seasons as follows
Kharif crops: These crops are grown in the hot and rainy season from the month of June to October.  For e.g., paddy, soybean, pigeon pea, maize, cotton, green gram, groundnut, black gram, etc.

Rabi crops: These crops are grown in dry and winter season from the month of November to April. For e.g., heat, gram, pea, mustard, linseed, barley, etc.


The practices involved in farming to increase crop production can be divided into three stages:

The first is the choice of seeds for planting. The second is the nurturing of the crop plants. The third is the protection of the growing and harvested crops from loss

Accordingly, the major groups of activities for crop yields can be classified as:
(i) Crop variety improvement
(ii) Crop production management
(iii) Crop protection management.

Note: In India, there has been a four times increase in the production of food grains from 1952 to 20 I 0 with only 25% increase in the cultivable land area. It was achieved by the improvement in crop yields.

The main aim of this practice is to find a variety of crop, which can withstand different situations like high soil salinity, diverse climatic conditions and water availability (drought and flood).

In order to accept the new varieties of crops, it is necessary that the variety should produce high yields under different conditions found in different areas. For this, farmers should be provided with good quality seeds of a particular variety. The seeds should be of the same variety and germinate under the same conditions.

Varieties or strains of crops can be selected by breeding for various traits such as disease resistance, response to fertilizers, product quality and high yields. A new variety developed with all such features is highly acceptable.

Ways for Improvement in Crop Variety
There are two ways to incorporate desirable characteristics into crop varieties. These are:
(i) Hybridisation: It is the crossing between genetically dissimilar plants to produce a new type (hybrid) or High Yielding Variety (HYV). It is further of the following types:

(a) Inter-varietal: The cross is made between two plants belonging to different varieties of crops. It is the most common method used in plant breeding.
(b) Inter-specific: The cross is made between two plants belonging to different species of the same genus.  
(c) Inter-generic: The cross is made between plants belonging to different genera.

(ii) Genetically modified: crops It involves the manipulation of crop plants for increasing their yield, improving quality, sustainability, etc.    Genetic manipulation provides the desired characteristics in the crop.

Factors of Crop Variety Improvement
Some of the factors for which crop variety improvement is done are follows:

Higher yield Variety improvement is done to increase the productivity of the crop per acre.

Improved quality: The definition of quality is different for different crops. For e.g. baking quality is important in wheat, protein quality in pulses, oil quality in oilseeds and preserving quality in fruits and vegetables.

Biotic and abiotic resistance: Biotic stresses (diseases, insects and nematodes) and abiotic stresses (drought, salinity, waterlogging, heat, cold and frost) affect crop production to a great extent. Varieties resistant to such conditions are always preferred as they help to improve crop production.

Change in maturity duration: Short duration or period between sowing and harvesting makes a crop more economical.   It allows the farmers to grow multiple rounds of crops in a year. It also reduces the cost of crop production. Uniform maturity makes the harvesting process easy. It also reduces losses during harvesting.

Wider adaptability: Developing varieties that can grow and adapt to different conditions help in stabilising crop production. Thus, a single variety can be grown in different regions with different climatic conditions.

Desirable agronomic characteristics: These characteristics depict good growth and higher productivity in plants. Plants showing such. characteristics are preferred more than others, e.g. tallness and profuse branching are preferred characters for fodder crops. Dwarfness is desired in cereals.

Crop Production Management
It involves the control of’ various aspects of crop production for the best yield. It requires skilful dealing with almost all aspects of crop production.

It is the money or financial condition, which allows farmers to take up different farming practices and agricultural technologies. There is a correlation between higher inputs and yields. The purchasing capacity of a farmer for inputs decides cropping system and production practices. Thus, production practices can be grouped at three levels, i.e. no cost, low cost and high-cost production practices.

Crop production management includes management of nutrients, irrigation and cropping patterns.

1. Nutrient Management
Like animals; plants also require nutrients for their growth and development.  Nutrients are the inorganic elements, which are supplied to plants by air, water and soil. There are sixteen essential nutrients for plants.

Essential plant nutrients are divided into two categories which are as follows:

Macronutrients: These include six nutrients. They are utilized by plants in large quantities, hence, known as macronutrients. They are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur.

Micronutrients: These include seven nutrients.  They are required by plants in smaller quantities. They are 1ron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and chlorine.

Deficiency of any of these nutrients affects the physiological process in plants including reproduction, growth and susceptibility to diseases. Nutrients can be supplied to the soil in the form of manure and fertilisers. It helps to increase the yield of crops.

Manures are natural fertilisers.  These are the organic substances formed by decomposition of animal excreta and plant wastes.  It supplies small quantities of nutrients to the soil.

Based on  the type of biological material used, manure can be classified as:

Compost and vermicompost: The process in which farm waste materials like livestock excreta (cow dung, etc.), vegetable waste, animal refuse, domestic waste, sewage waste, straw, eradicated weeds, etc., are decomposed in pits is known as composting.

(i) The compost is rich in organic matter and nutrients.
(ii) Preparation of compost by using earthworms to hasten the process of decomposition of plant and animal refuse is called vermicomposting.
(iii) Green manure Some plants like sunhemp or guar are grown and mulched by ploughing into the soil before sowing of the crop seeds. These green plants turn into green manure.  It helps in increasing nitrogen and phosphorus content in the soil. It also helps to improve hydration, aeration and crumb structure of the soil.

Advantages of manure are as follows:
(i) Manure enriches the soil with nutrients and organic matter (called humus).
(ii) Manure increases soil fertility and decreases the harmful effects of pesticides and insecticides on the soil.
(iii) It helps in improving soil structure by increasing the water holding capacity in sandy soil. In clayey soil, a large quantity of organic matter helps in drainage and avoiding waterlogging.
(iv) By the use of biological waste material  (manure), we can protect the environment from the excessive use of fertilisers.
(v) Manure helps in the recycling of farm waste.

They are commercially produced plant nutrients. They supply Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK)  to the soil.

Advantages of fertilizers are as follows:
(i) They are easily available, easy to use and store.
(ii) They help in the higher yields of high-cost farming.
(iii) They are used to ensure good vegetative growth (leaves, branches and flowers) and give rise to healthy plants.

Disadvantages of fertilizers are as follows:
(i) They need to be applied carefully in terms of proper dose, time and looking after the pre and post-application precautions for their complete utilization.  For example, excessive use of fertilisers can cause water pollution as they get washed away when they are not absorbed fully by the plants due to excessive irrigation.

(ii) Continuous use of fertilisers can destroy soil fertility because the organic matter in the soil does not get replenished. Hence, microorganisms in the soil are harmed by the use of fertilisers.

(iii) They provide short-term benefits.   Thus, for maintaining soil fertility, the short-term benefits of using fertilisers and long-term benefits of using manure must be considered in order to aim optimum yields in crop production.

Organic Farming
It is an environment-friendly farming system. Features of organic farming are:
(i) Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides. etc.  are used in minimal quantities or not used at all.
(ii) Organic manures, recycled farm-wastes (straw and livestock excreta) etc.  are used in maximum.
(iii) Bio-fertilizers formed using bioagents such as the culture of blue-green algae, legumes (Rhizobium) etc. are used.
(iv) For storage purpose, biopesticides such as neem leaves or turmeric are used.
(v) These cropping systems are beneficial in insect, pest and weed control and in providing nutrients.

2. Irrigation
The process of supplying water to crop plants in fields by means of canals, reservoirs, wells, tube wells, etc., is called irrigation. Agricultural practices in India are rain dependent.  The success of a crop mainly depends on timely monsoons and sufficient rainfall during its growing season. Ensuring that water will be supplied to the crops at right stages and in the required amounts, the expected yields of any crop can be increased.  Farmers depend on various natural resources like ponds, wells, canals, etc., for the irrigation of their farmlands.

Some commonly used irrigation systems depending on  the type of water resources available for agricultural purposes are as follows:

They are constructed wherever groundwater is present for irrigation. They are of two types:
(i) Dug wells Water is collected from water-bearing strata.
(ii) Tube wells Water can be drawn from deeper strata using pumps.

They are an elaborate and extensive used method of receiving water from reservoirs like dam or rivers. The main canal is further divided into other branches that have distributaries to irrigate fields.

River Lift Systems
This method is used in areas, where canal flow is insufficient or irregular due to insufficient reservoir release. Here, water is directly drawn from the rivers for supplementing irrigation in areas close to rivers.

These are small storage reservoirs. They catch and store the run-off of smaller catchment areas.

Modern Techniques
These are fresh initiatives for increasing water availability for agriculture by augmenting groundwater. They include:
(i) Rainwater harvesting Rainwater is collected into the ground by digging tunnels, etc.  This water percolates into the soil, thus ‘ maintaining the water table.
(ii) Watershed development Small check-dams are built to increase groundwater level. The purpose of check-dams is to stop the rainwater from flowing away and also to reduce sod erosion.

Cropping Patterns
It involves raising crops so as to obtain maximum benefit from the same piece of land.  It reduces the risk of crop failure, disease, etc. For this purpose, crops can be grown in different ways. Some of them are:

Mixed Cropping
In this practice, two or more crops are grown simultaneously on the same piece of land. For e.g. Wheat+ Gram, Wheat+ Mustard, Groundnut + Sunflower, etc. Some advantages of mixed cropping are:
(i) Improves soil fertility.
(ii) The risk of total crop failure due to uncertain monsoon is reduced.
(iii) Gives some insurance against failure of one of the crops.

In this, two or more crops are grown simultaneously in the same field in a definite pattern. A few rows of one crop alternate with a few rows of another crop. The crops are selected be on the basis of their nutrient requirements.  Two crops must have different nutrient requirements from each other. For e.g. Soybean+ Maize, Finger millet (bajra) +Cow-pea (Colombia), etc.

Some advantages of intercropping are:
(i) It ensures maximum utilisation of supplied nutrients and better returns.
(ii) It prevents the spread of pests and diseases to all the plants of one crop in a field.
(iii) Both crops give a better return in it.

Crop Rotation
In this type of practice, different crops are grown on a piece of land in a pre-planned succession. The crop combination depends upon the duration of crops.

One crop is grown on a field and after its harvest, a second crop is grown on the same field. This can also follow the third crop. The crop to choose n after one harvest depends upon the availability of moisture and irrigation facilities.

Crop Protection Management

In fields, crops have to be protected from weeds, insects, pests and diseases. Crop protection management includes methods to · reduce such kinds of infestation.  If not controlled in time, they can cause heavy damage to the crops in a way that most of the crops are lost.
Various threats to crops include:

1. Weeds
These are the unwanted plants in the cultivated field. They compete with the crops for food, space and light.

Weeds take up nutrients and reduce the growth of the crop. Therefore,  they should be removed during early stages of crop growth in order to obtain a good harvest.

Examples of weeds are:
Xanthium (Pokhran),  Parthenium (gajar ghas), Cyprinus rotundus (motha), Amaranthus, Chenopodium, wild oat, etc.

Following are the methods to control weeds:
(i) Mechanical methods Uprooting, weeding with harrow or hand, ploughing, burning and flooding.
(ii) Preventive methods Proper seed bed preparation, timely sowing of crops, intercropping and crop rotation.  

2. Insect Pests
They affect. the health of crop and reduce its yield.

Insect pests attack the plants in following ways:
(i) They cut the root, stem and leaf, e.g. locusts.
(ii) They suck the cell sap from various parts of the plant, e.g. aphids.·
(iii) They bore into stem and fruits, e.g. shoot borer larvae.

Pests can be controlled in many ways such as:
(i) Use of resistant varieties.
(ii) Summer ploughing In this method, fields are ploughed deep during summers to destroy weeds and pests.

3. Crop Diseases
Diseases in plants are can be used by pathogens such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. These pathogens are present in and transmitted through the soil, water and air.

Crop diseases can be controlled by the use of pesticides like herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They are sprayed on crop plants in limited amounts.  Excessive use of. these chemicals are harmful to many species of plants and animals. It also causes environmental pollution.

Storage of Grains
During storage of grains, high losses can occur in agricultural produce.

Factors responsible for such losses can be categorized as:
(i) Biotic factors  These include rodents,  fungi, insects, mites and bacteria.
(ii) Abiotic factors These include inappropriate moisture and temperature conditions in the place of storage.

Effects of these factors on grains are as follows:
(i) Degradation in quality.
(ii) Poor germinative capacity.
(iii) Discolouration of the produce.
(iv) Loss of weight.

All these lead to poor marketability and heavy economic losses.

Some of the preventive and control measures during storage are:
(i) The proper storage of grains can be done by proper treatment and systematic management of warehouses.
(ii) Strict cleaning of the produce before storage.
(iii) Proper drying of the produce in sunlight and then in shade.
(iv) Fumigation should be done to kill pests.   In fumigation, the insect pests are exposed to fumes of chemicals.


Animal husbandry is the scientific management of livestock. It can be defined as the science of rearing, feeding, breeding, disease control and utilisation of animals.  Animal-based fuming includes cattle, goat, sheep, poultry and fish farming.

The need for Animal Husbandry
(i) It is required to meet the increasing demands of animal-based goods like milk, meat, eggs, leather, etc., according to the size of the population and living standards of the people.
(ii) It sets guideline for proper management and systematic approach to animal rearing.

Cattle Farming

In India, cattle husbandry is done for two purposes;  milk and draught labour for agricultural work (such as tilling, irrigation and carting).
Cattles in India belong to two different species:
(i) Bos indicus (cows)
(ii) Bos bubalis (buffaloes)

On the basis of the work done by cattle’s, they can be divided into two categories:
(i) Milch animals These are milk-producing females or dairy animals.
(ii) Draught animals These are used to do labour work in farms.

Breeds of Cattle
(i) Indigenous or local breeds: They are selected because of their high resistance to disease, e.g. Red Sindhi and Sahiwal.
(ii) Exotic or foreign breeds: They are selected because of their long lactation period,  e.g. Jersey and Brown Swiss.

These two breeds can be cross-bred to get both the desirable qualities in animals.

Lactation Period
It is the period of milk production after the birth of a calf. Milk · production largely depends on the duration of the lactation period. We can increase milk production by increasing the lactation period.

Farm Management for Cattles
Efficient farm management is essential for humane farming, better health of animals and production of dean milk. Various measures for farm management are as follows:
(i) Proper cleaning and shelter facilities are required for carries.
(ii) Regular brushing of animals should be done to remove dirt and loose hair.
(iii) The cattle should be sheltered in well-ventilated roofed sheds in order to protect them from rain, heat and cold.
(iv) The floor of the cattle shed should be sloping so as to keep it dry and facilitate cleaning.

Food Requirements of Cattles
Food is required for dairy cattle’s for the following two purposes:
(i) For maintenance: Food is required to support the animal to live a healthy life.
(ii) For producing milk: The type of food is required during the lactation period.

Different types of animal feeds are:
(i) Roughage: This is largely fibrous and contains low nutrients.   For e.g. green fodder, silage, hay and legumes.
(ii) Concentrates: These are low in fibre.  They contain relatively high levels of proteins and other nutrients. For e.g. cereals like gram and bajra.

Apart from the above-mentioned products, some feed additives containing micronutrients promote the health and milk output of dairy animals.  It should also be noted that cattle should be given balanced rations with all the nutrients in proportionate amounts.

Diseases in Cattles
Like other animals, carries also suffer from a number of diseases. These besides causing death,  also reduce milk production.

The  parasites of cattle can be of following types:
(i) External parasites: They live on the skin and cause skin diseases, e.g. lice, mites, etc.
(ii) Internal parasites:    They include worms that affect stomach and intestine and flukes that damage the liver.

Cattles also get infectious diseases from various bacteria and virus. As a preventive measure, vaccinations are is given to farm animals against many viral and bacterial diseases.

Poultry Farming

It involves rearing of domestic fowl for the production of eggs and chicken meat.  Therefore, improved poultry breeds are developed and farmed to produce layers for eggs and broilers for meat.

For the improvement of poultry breeds, cross-breeding is done successfully between Indian or indigenous (e.g. Aseel) and foreign or exotic (e.g. Leghorn) breeds.

These cross-breeding programmes focus to develop desirable traits like:
(i) Quality and quantity  (number) of chicks.
(ii) Dwarf broiler parent for commercial chick production.
(iii) Summer adaptation capacity/ tolerance to high temperature.
(iv) Low maintenance requirements.
(v) Reduction in the size of the egg-laying bird with the ability to utilise more fibrous and cheaper diets. This diet is formulated using agricultural byproducts.    

Egg and Broiler Production
Broiler chickens are fed with vitamin-rich supplementary feed for good growth rate and better feed efficiency.

Care is taken to avoid mortality and to maintain feathering and carcass quality. They are produced as broilers and sent to market for meat purposes.                              

Broilers and egg layers have different housing, nutritional and environmental. requirements.                             

The diet of the broiler is rich in protein with adequate fat.  In the poultry feed, the level of vitamin-A and K is kept high.

Maintenance of the Shelter
The following practices are required for the maintenance of the shelter:
(i) Proper cleaning and sanitation of the shelter.
(ii) Maintenance of temperature and hygiene in the shelter.
(iii) Proper ventilation.
(iv) Prevention and control of diseases and pests.

Poultry Diseases and Their Prevention
Poultry fowl suffer from various diseases caused by virus, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

They also suffer from nutritional efficiency diseases. These diseases can be prevented by:
(i) Providing nutritional diet to poultry birds.
(ii) Proper cleaning and sanitation of shelter.
(iii) Vaccination of poultry birds can prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases. Loss of poultry during an outbreak of disease can also be reduced by proper vaccination.
(iv) Spraying of disinfectants at regular intervals in the shelter.

Fish Production
Fish is a cheap source of animal protein for humans. Production of fish includes both finned true fish as well as shellfish like prawns and molluscs.
The two ways of obtaining fish are:
(i) Capture fishing: It is a method of obtaining fish from natural resources. It is undertaken in both inland and marine waters.
(ii) Culture fishery:  It is the method of obtaining fish from fish farming or pisciculture. It is undertaken mostly inland and near seashores.

Both the methods can be used for fishing in marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Marine Fisheries

Marine fishery resources in India include 7500 km of coastline and the deep seas beyond it. Marine fishes are caught using many kinds of fishing nets from fishing boats.

Popular marine fishes are pomfret, mackerel, tuna, sardines and Bombay duck.

Marine fishes of high economic value that are formed in seawater use:
(i) Finned fishes: Mullets, bhetki and pearl spots.
(ii) Shell fishes: Prawns, mussels, oysters and seaweeds. Oysters are also cultivated for the pearls they produce.

The yield of fishes can be increased by locating large schools of fish in the open .sea with the use of satellites and echo sounders.

Note:  Mariculture  As marine fish stocks get further depleted. the demand for more fish can only be met by culture fisheries. This practice is called mariculture. The marine fishes are cultivated in coastal waters of India on a commercial basis. It includes mullets, bhetki, eel, milk fish. etc.

Inland Fisheries
It includes fishery in freshwater and brackish water. Freshwater resources include canals, ponds,  reservoirs and rivers. Brackish water resources are those where seawater and freshwater mix together,  e.g. estuaries and lagoons. These are also important fish reservoirs.

The yield of capture fishing is not high in such inland water bodies. Thus,  most fish production from these resources is done through aquaculture. Sometimes fish culture is done in combination with rice crops.  In this, paddy crop gets ample of water and fishes get food.

Composite Fish Culture (Polyculture)
Fish production by cultivating a single species (monoculture) gives a low yield and demands a higher cost. In composite fish culture, a combination of 5 or 6 fish species is cultivated in a single pond having different food habits. Due to this, they do not compete for food with each other. Thus, it helps in more intensive fish farming.

Advantages of Composite Fish Culture:
(i) Both local and imported fish species are used.
(ii) Due to different food habits, all the food in the pond is consumed by the fishes.
(iii) The fish yield from the pond is high as there is no competition for food. For e.g.  Catla is a surface feeder, Rohu feeds in the middle-zone of the pond, Mrigal and common carps are bottom feeders, grass carp feed on weeds in the pond.

Disadvantages of Composite Fish Culture:
Many of the fishes breed only during monsoon. Thus, one of the major problems of fish farming is the lack of availability of good quality seed. To overcome this problem, fishes are breed in ponds using hormonal simulation.  It ensures the supply of pure fish seed in desired quantities.

Honey is being widely used for various purposes. Thus, its production has become an agricultural enterprise these days. It is scientifically known as apiculture.  It is the method of rearing, care and management of honeybees for obtaining bee products like honey, bee wax (used in medical preparations) etc. For commercial honey production, apiaries or bee farms are established.

Advantages of Bee-Keeping:
(i) Requires low investment.
(ii) Provides varied products like honey (for eating or making other products),  wax (used in medicinal and cosmetic preparations), bee venom, etc.
(iii) Acts as an additional source of income for farmers.
(iv) Helps in increasing crop yield by better pollination.

Out of the above-mentioned species, A.  mellifera has been brought in the country m order to increase the yield of honey. This is the main variety used for commercial honey production. ·
Advantages of Italian  Bees
(i) They have high honey collection capacity.
(ii) They sting somewhat less.
(iii) They can stay in a given beehive for long periods and breed well.

It is the major product that is obtained from apiculture.
Value of honey  It depends on pasturage or flowers available to bees for nectar and pollen collection. ·
Taste of honey  It depends on the adequate quantity of pasturage and kind of flowers available.

This is the End

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