Primary Human Activities
To live in a society, human beings, apart from basic necessities of cloth, food and shelter also need to generate income. This enables the humans to live in a civilized manner instead of having to hunt and scavenge for food everyday like the other species. Certain activities which ensure income generation are termed as Economic Activities. Let’s have an overview of types of economic activities which bring structure to human life:
Hunting and Gathering, Pastoralism, Agriculture, Mining
Primary economic activities are those in which the generation of income depends on the natural environment. They depend on the flora and fauna of a place and the kind of animals also. These activities include:
#1. Hunting and Gathering
It may sound obsolete but in many tribes, usually nomads, the custom of hunting animals using primitive tools and selling the hide or meat (or both) for money is carried out. Similarly, many countries have large plantations. To cut expenses, gatherers are employed. These people just harvest the grown crops like cacao seeds, berries, tea leaves, tannin extracts, rubber extracts, plant fiber, medicinal herbs, etc.
This activity arose when the humans realized the uncertainty in hunting. Pastoralism includes rearing of commercial or domestic animals for obtaining benefits. Pastoralism is of following types:
- Nomadic Herding: Animals like, sheep, goats, camel, yaks, reindeer, llamas, etc are reared for their fur, food, animal hide, transportation, etc. The nomad communities take their livestock with them and usually they look to live in pastures or grasslands with good amounts of water available.
- Commercial Livestock Rearing: This is a capital intensive organised rearing of animals. Usually only one animal species is kept in ranches where the land is divided into proper grazing units called parcels.. With proper fencing the animals are allowed to graze on a particular parcel while grass in other parcels of the ranch is grown for future grazing. Scientific mating methods are used to ensure disease-free progeny.
We know what the agricultural activity comprises. We will, hence, focus on the various types of agricultural activities:
- Subsistence Agriculture: Divided into Primitive Subsistence and Intensive Subsistence Agriculture it employs very traditional methods of farming which involves manual labor. In Primitive Subsistence, the farmers slash a piece of land of unwanted vegetation, burn it down and then cultivate the land. This technique is used until the land becomes barren and a new patch of land is then used. In Intensive Subsistence, regular crops in middle to large fields are grown for consumption of the local people or for a certain region. Crops cultivated include rice, soybean, wheat, barley, sorghum, coconut and sugarcane.
- Plantation Agriculture: The trend of plantation agriculture was introduced by the colonies of the British, Dutch, Portuguese, etc in the countries they ruled in to grow a particular crop not suitable for their own country. Like cacao cannot grow in the climate of the UK but in the African continent. The crops grown are tea, cacao, rubber, coffee, bananas, pineapples and sugarcane.
- Extensive Commercial Grain Agriculture: When a country is labelled as the largest producer of basic and necessary grains like, wheat, barley, corn, oats, rye etc. This farming is carried out in mid-latitudes where the climate is semi-arid. The large fields use extensive machinery to produce grains on a large-scale. All farming activities are mechanized. The cultivation is done for commercial purposes.
- Mixed Farming: Developed countries have large farms where crop cultivation, livestock rearing and other agricultural activities are carried out in the same farm only. There is no distinction of crop cultivation and livestock rearing, both are done together with proper use of technology.
- Dairy Farming: Small-scale dairy farming is conducted in various parts of Indian cities and villages. When carried out on a large-scale, like Amul, Namaste India, etc it takes the name of dairy farming. The milch cattle (milk producing cows, buffaloes) is bred with artificial insemination to ensure healthy progeny. The cattle are looked after by proper veterinary doctors to maintain the quality of milk. Milk produced is pasteurized (frozen, if required) transported to factories for packaging and then to markets for sale.
- Mediterranean Agriculture: This is a region-specific, specialized farming activity. Only certain crops on either side of the Mediterranean Sea are grown. The crops grown include grapes, citrus fruits, olives, figs, etc.
- Market Gardening and Horticulture: In this type of farming, the crops grown are of high value. These include vegetables, fruits, flowers, etc. The demand is completed for the urban markets, hence, the spending capacity being high, the farming is done for profit. To increase profit, small farms located near to the city are cultivated using high quality seeds, scientific methods of cultivation and irrigation are adopted.
- Co-operative Farming: This includes social ownership of all fields, the costs of cultivation and harvest. All farmers in a particular area pool their resources and divide the various responsibilities of farming. At the end, the profits are equally distributed.
- Collective Farming: Inspired by the Kolkhoz model for principles of farming, collective farming is very similar to Co-operative farming. The method of collective ownership and collective distribution of responsibilities and profits is the same. The only point of difference is that, to meet their daily crop requirement, each farmer is allotted a piece of land where they can grow their vegetables and fruits for daily use.
The activity of mining involves the procurement of minerals from within the Earth’s surface. These minerals have commercial value. Although, it requires high labor, transportation and handling costs along with proper technology. This is the reason many countries are abstaining from mining and researching methods to make synthetic minerals.
These activities are all deriving economic profit from the resources of nature, a primary source, hence called primary activity.