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Food production and Industry

Sectors of Economy 

Primary SectorExtraction of raw materials from the nature e.g. agriculture, fishing, farming, forestry and mining etc.
Secondary SectorTransforming raw materials into semi-finished goods or finished goods. This sector includes metal working and smelting, automobile production, textile production, chemical and engineering industries, aerospace manufacturing, energy utilities, engineering, breweries and bottlers, construction, and shipbuilding.
Tertiary SectorProvision of services to businesses and consumers. Activities associated with this sector include retail and wholesale sales, transportation and distribution, entertainment (movies, television, radio, music, theatre, etc.), restaurants, clerical services, media, tourism, insurance, banking, healthcare, and law. In most developed and developing countries, a growing proportion of workers are devoted to the tertiary sector. In the U.S., more than 80% of the labor force is tertiary worker.
Quaternary SectorResearch and development,
This sector is said to be that of intellectual organization in a society such as research organization, cultural programs, information technology (IT), higher education, and libraries.
Quinary SectorHighest levels of decision making in a society
or economy. Top executives (CEOs) or officials in senior management in different organization as in government (Ministers, diplomats),
Universities (Head of the organization) etc.

Informal sector job in Cuba: Cuban taxi drivers earn more than a doctor?

Informal sector in Mexico

Informal sector in Bolivia

What is agriculture?

Agriculture means farming. It involves artificial cultivation of plants (crops) and rearing of animals for food and other products.

Terminologies related to food production

Arable farming– Crop farming
Pastoral farming– Rearing of animals
Mixed farming– involves both
Yield: the amount of output
Sedentary farming: farming that takes place in a permanent location.
Subsistence farming: involves growing crops and rearing of animals for self-consumption. Little surplus is produced which can then be sold.
Commercial agriculture: is done to make profit from the output. The crops produced are called cash crops

Characteristics of Intensive farming:
High inputs of capital, fertilizers, labour and pesticides (the amount of money spent as input in high such as in Denmark)
Farm size is smaller comparison to the number of workers (Ganges delta)
Produced high yields

Characteristics of Extensive farming:
Involves low input of materials and labour (Amazon basin)
Large farm size (American Prairies)
Low yield in comparison to farm the size

Slash and burn farming: The process of cutting down areas of forest and then burning the stubble/roots in order to farm. Land becomes infertile very quickly, slash and burn farmers will move land every few years.

Ranching: is the practice of raising herds of animals on large tracts of land. Ranchers commonly raise grazing animals such as cattle and sheep.
Ranching is common in temperate, dry areas, such as the Pampas region of South America, the western United States, the Prairie Provinces of Canada, and the Australian Outback. In these regions, grazing animals are able to roam over large areas. Cowboy culture is an important part of the identity of ranching regions. Cowboys are responsible for herding and maintaining the health of animals across these vast ranches. Cowboys often work with horses to herd cattle and sheep.

Rice cultivation in Southeast Asia

Slash and burn farming (shifting cultivation): Subsistence farming

Intensive rice cultivation in hilly terrain

Problems of Palm oil plantation


Environmental and social problems related to agriculture:

Overgrazing– as more and more ranchers grazed their animals on the open range, the quality of the land became degraded. Cattle that are not native to the land, had to compete with native grazing animals.

Famine: When the demand for food exceeds the supply of food leading to undernourishment.
Drought: When the demand for water exceeds the supply of water causing water stress (water shortages).
Soil Degradation: A reduction in the quality of soil, making it harder to grow plants.
Soil exhaustion: leads to low crop yields. It is a result of over cropping (growing too much over a plot of land), monoculture (growing of only one type of crop), insufficient addition of manure and use of heavy chemical fertilizers. Soil exhaustion leads to soil degradation.
Desertification: The process of soil becoming degraded and turning to desert.
Soil erosion: The removal of topsoil (topsoil is normally the most fertile layer) usually by wind and water.
Subsidies: Subsidies are financial help given to industries to make their production cheaper. The EU gives many of its farmers subsidies in order to protect tradition, to be self sufficient and to protect from foreign competition. CAP: The Common Agricultural Policy is the EU’s farming policy aimed at creating a single European market for farm products, become self sufficient, increase farm income and provide financial support.
NIMBY: NIMBY stands for not in my back yard and it is the phenomenon of people approving of certain developments, but not wanting them to happen near where they live e.g. a wind turbine.

Causes of food shortage, crisis and food insecurity

  • Increase in population led to farm land expansion and rapid urbanization. This has led to soil exhaustion, deforestation, desertification and severe soil erosion. All these are the principle causes of reduction in the productivity of land and a sharp decrease in the carrying capacity. Drought, flood, tropical cyclone and other extreme weather events may cause crops to fail. On the other hand, natural disaster like earthquakes affect food supply by disrupting the transport links and related infrastructure needed to produce crop.Outbreaks of disease like cholera, malaria, HIV/AIDS (in Malawi) affect food protection as farmers are not able to work on their farms and grow food. Civil wars like those in Darfur (Sudan) and in sierra Leone disrupt food supply as farmers are afraid to go out to their fields, transport routes are destroyed and soldiers demands food from local farms. This has also caused increasing number of refugees creating presure on the available supply of food in the surrounding regions.Climate Change due to global warming as well as global dimming, cause desertification and drought as in Nigeria.

Some Solutions:

  • Food aid
  • Appropriate technology, HYV crops, Green revolution
  • Political will and investment to build proper infrastructure to support Efficient production system
  • Social welfare schemes for the farmers.


Distribution of undernourished population in the world

Click here to see the Global Hunger Map, 2017 by World Food Program. 

Article Review

The FAO estimates that as many as 25,000 people die every day as a result of hunger. That adds up to roughly 9 million people who die of starvation each year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 800 million people lack the necessary food to live a healthy lifestyle. Financially  around $750 billion is spent on producing or purchasing food that ends up in the garbage. Compared to the amount of money spent on food waste, the number required to feed the world’s  hungry children is actually quite small, according to the World Food Programme, the cost comes to nearly $4 billion per year. Click here to review World hunger statistics: Think before you waste food.

Food shortage in Venezuela: How a rich country collapsed?  

Food Insecurity: Hunger and famine in East Africa


Russia-Ukraine war could bring global food shortage

Drought and hunger in Somalia


Causes of famine and food shortage in Sudan and South Sudan

Sudan and  South Sudan were the single country of Sudan untill 2011. Both the countries have suffered food shortages for decades due to long civil war  and ethnic conflict between the government in Khartoum and the rebel forces of Darfur region, drought and other associated  social and economic causes. The civil war was accelerated on the issue of sharing of oil (petroleum) between the government controlled north and oil-rich south of the country.



Organic farming: Organic farming is practised without factory made chemical, such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and yield-enhancing drugs for animals. It is more sustainable way of farming as less damage is done to the environment and natural habitat as well as producing healthier food for people. Yields are significantly lower than in non-organic farming, making the produce expensive to buy.

Industries: Important terminologies

Industrial system: Comprises of input-process and output. Inputs are the elements that are required for processing and manufacturing. Processes denote activities that take place in factories to make the finished products for sale. Output comprise of finished products, by-products and waste that could be recycled. Industrial system is profit oriented. Market demand determines the trend and intensity of industrial production.

Raw Materials:Inputs or resources that are used to manufacture finished products. For example, iron ore, coke and limestone are the basic raw materials for steel production.

Footloose industry:Industries that are not tied to any specific geographical location. Unlike heavy industries that are dependent on bulky raw materials, footloose industries do not have to be near to a source of raw material or market. As long as there is suitable energy supply and communication network available, these industries can locate themselves virtually anywhere in the world. Examples of footloose industries are computer software development industries and call centres.

Think and develop

Buddinggeographers at work: Imagine yourself as an entrepreneur or CEO of a company. What product you would like to launch or what would be your business idea?


Action Against Hunger. (2017). Nutrition and health. Retrieved from

Glicken, M. D. (2010). Social work in the 21st century: An introduction to social welfare, social issues, and the profession. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Black, R. E., Morris, S. S., & Bryce, J. (2003). Where and why are 10 million children dying every year?, The Lancet, 361(9376), 2226-2234.

Bryce, J., Boschi-Pinto, C., Shibuya, K., Black, R. E., & WHO Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group. (2005). WHO estimates of the causes of death in children. The Lancet, 365(9465), 1147-1152.




Vertical-indoor farming

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