Chapter 3 ‘Agriculture’ Notes Class 8 NCERT Geography

Study notes based on the chapter 3 in NCERT Geography for Class 8 students. These notes are well organised under proper headings and relevant points. You can also have the pdf (use the tool given in the end) of these notes. Click here for more Class 8 Geography Notes .

1. Agriculture & Economic Activities

1.1. Word Origin of “Agriculture”

The term “agriculture” is derived from Latin words “ager” or “agri” meaning soil and “culture” meaning cultivation.

1.2. Gurpreet, Madho, and Tina’s Encounter with a Farmer

  • Gurpreet, Madho, and Tina witnessed a farmer tilling the land in a village.
  • The farmer mentioned growing wheat and enhancing the soil’s fertility with manure.
  • He explained that the harvested wheat would be sold in the mandi and later used to produce bread and biscuits.

1.3. Types of Economic Activities

  • The transformation of agricultural products to finished goods involves three types of economic activities:
  • primary, secondary, and tertiary activities.

Primary Activities

  • Primary activities involve the extraction and production of natural resources.
  • Examples of primary activities include agriculture, fishing, and gathering.

Secondary Activities

  • Secondary activities are concerned with the processing of natural resources.
  • Examples of secondary activities include manufacturing steel, baking bread, and weaving cloth.

Tertiary Activities

  • Tertiary activities provide support to the primary and secondary sectors through services.
  • Examples of tertiary activities include transport, trade, banking, insurance, and advertising.

1.4. Agriculture as a Primary Activity

  • Agriculture encompasses the cultivation of crops, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and the rearing of livestock.
  • Globally, around 50% of people are engaged in agricultural activities.
  • In India, two-thirds of the population still depends on agriculture.

1.5. Factors Influencing Agricultural Activity

  • Favourable topography of soil and climate play a vital role in agricultural activity.
  • The land used for growing crops is known as arable land.
  • Agricultural activity is concentrated in regions with suitable conditions for crop cultivation, as depicted on the map.

2. Farming System

Farming or Agriculture can be seen as a systematic process that involves various inputs, operations, and outputs.

2.1. Key Points:

Inputs in Farming System:

  • Seeds
  • Fertilizers
  • Machinery
  • Labour

Operations Involved:

  • Ploughing
  • Sowing
  • Irrigation
  • Weeding
  • Harvesting

Outputs from the Farming System:

  • Crops
  • Wool
  • Dairy products
  • Poultry products

In summary, the farming system relies on the careful management of inputs like seeds, fertilizers, machinery, and labour, with various essential operations such as ploughing, sowing, irrigation, weeding, and harvesting. The end products of this process include crops as well as various agricultural products like wool, dairy items, and poultry products.

3. Types of Farming

Farming practices vary worldwide based on geographical conditions, demand for produce, labour availability, and technology level.

The two main types of farming are Subsistence Farming and Commercial Farming.

3.1. Subsistence Farming

Subsistence farming is carried out primarily to meet the needs of the farmer’s family. It can be further classified into two types: Intensive subsistence farming and Primitive subsistence farming.

Intensive Subsistence Farming:

  • Small plots of land are cultivated using simple tools and more labour.
  • Multiple crops are grown annually due to a favourable climate with plenty of sunshine and fertile soil.
  • Main crops include rice, wheat, maize, pulses, and oilseeds.
  • Prevalent in densely populated monsoon regions of South, Southeast, and East Asia.

Primitive Subsistence Farming:

Includes Shifting Cultivation and Nomadic Herding.

  1. Shifting Cultivation:
    • Practiced in heavily forested areas with abundant rainfall and quick vegetation regeneration.
    • Involves clearing a plot by cutting and burning trees, then growing crops like maize, yam, potatoes, and cassava.
    • Once the soil loses fertility, the land is abandoned, and the cultivator moves to a new plot.
  2. Nomadic Herding:
    • Practiced in semi-arid and arid regions with limited water and vegetation.
    • Herdsmen move with their animals in search of fodder and water.
    • Sheep, camel, yak, and goats are commonly reared, providing milk, meat, wool, and other products.

3.2. Commercial Farming

Commercial farming focuses on cultivating crops and rearing animals for sale in the market. It involves large areas of land, significant capital investment, and extensive machine use. There are three main types of commercial farming:

Commercial Grain Farming:

  • Crops like wheat and maize are grown for commercial purposes.
  • Major regions include temperate grasslands of North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Large farms spread over hundreds of hectares, but the growing season is limited due to severe winters.

Mixed Farming:

  • Involves growing food and fodder crops alongside rearing livestock.
  • Practiced in Europe, eastern USA, Argentina, southeast Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Plantation Agriculture:

  • Single crops such as tea, coffee, sugarcane, cashew, rubber, banana, or cotton are grown.
  • Requires significant labour and capital.
  • Major plantations are found in tropical regions, e.g., rubber in Malaysia, coffee in Brazil, tea in India, and Sri Lanka.

4. Major Crops

A variety of crops are cultivated to meet the growing population’s requirements and to supply raw materials for agro-based industries. Major food and beverage crops, as well as fibre crops, play crucial roles in global agriculture.

4.1. Major Food Crops


  • Staple diet in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
  • Requires high temperature, high humidity, and sufficient rainfall.
  • Grows best in alluvial clayey soil that retains water.
  • Leading producers: China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Egypt.
  • In favourable conditions, multiple crops can be grown in regions like West Bengal and Bangladesh.


  • Requires moderate temperature and rainfall during the growing season and bright sunshine at harvest time.
  • Thrives best in well-drained loamy soil.
  • Major producers: USA, Canada, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, and India.
  • Grown in India during the winter season.


  • Also known as coarse grains, they can grow on less fertile and sandy soils.
  • Hardy crops that need low rainfall and high to moderate temperature.
  • Examples in India: Jowar, bajra, and ragi. Other countries include Nigeria, China, and Niger.


  • Requires moderate temperature, rainfall, and ample sunshine.
  • Grows well in well-drained fertile soils.
  • Major producers: North America, Brazil, China, Russia, Canada, India, and Mexico.

4.2. Fibre Crops


  • Requires high temperature, light rainfall, and around 210 frost-free days with bright sunshine.
  • Grows best on black and alluvial soils.
  • Leading producers: China, USA, India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Egypt.
  • Major raw material for the cotton textile industry.


  • Known as the “Golden Fibre.”
  • Thrives on alluvial soil and requires high temperature, heavy rainfall, and a humid climate.
  • Grown in tropical areas.
  • Leading producers: India and Bangladesh.

4.3. Beverage Crops


  • Requires a warm and wet climate and well-drained loamy soil.
  • Grown on hill slopes.
  • Leading producers: Brazil, Colombia, and India.


  • Grown on plantations and requires a cool climate with well-distributed high rainfall throughout the year.
  • Thrives on well-drained loamy soils and gentle slopes.
  • Labor-intensive crop for leaf picking.
  • Major producers: Kenya, India, China, and Sri Lanka, known for producing high-quality tea.

5. Agricultural Development

Agricultural development involves efforts to increase farm production to meet the growing demands of a rising population. Several strategies contribute to this development, including expanding cropped areas, diversifying crops, improving irrigation facilities, employing fertilizers, and utilizing high-yielding varieties of seeds. Mechanization of agriculture is also an essential aspect of agricultural development, with the ultimate goal of enhancing food security.

5.1. Agricultural Development in Developing and Developed Countries

Agricultural development varies significantly between developing and developed countries. Developing countries tend to have smaller farms and often practice subsistence or intensive agriculture, while developed countries employ advanced technologies and mechanized farming on larger commercial farms.

Case Study 1: Farm in India

Location: Adilabad village in Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh.

Farmer: Munna Lal, a small farmer with approximately 1.5 hectares of farmland.

Farming Practices:

  • Munna Lal purchases high-yielding varieties of seeds from the market every alternate year.
  • He grows at least two crops per year, typically wheat or rice and pulses.
  • Farming practices are guided by advice from friends, elders, and government agricultural officers.
  • Tractor is used for ploughing, but some farmers in the area still use bullocks for ploughing.
  • Irrigation is facilitated through renting a nearby tube well.
  • Munna Lal has livestock (two buffaloes and hens) and sells milk in the cooperative store.
  • He is a member of a cooperative society that offers advice on fodder, livestock health, and artificial insemination.

Family Involvement: All members of the family assist in various farm activities.

Financing: Occasionally, he takes credit from a bank or agricultural co-operative society to purchase high-yielding variety seeds and implements.

Marketing: The produce is sold in the mandi (market) located in the nearby town.

Storage: Lack of storage facilities forces farmers to sell their produce even when the market conditions may not be favourable.

Case Study 2: Farm in the USA

Location: Midwest USA, Iowa State.

Farmer: Joe Horan, a farmer with about 300 hectares of land.

Farming Practices:

  • Joe Horan ensures that soil and water resources meet the requirements of his crops.
  • Measures are taken to control pests that could damage the crops.
  • Soil samples are sent to a testing laboratory to determine nutrient levels and plan a scientific fertilization program.
  • Precision agriculture is employed using computer-linked satellite imagery to optimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Mechanized farming operations use tractors, seed drills, levellers, combined harvesters, and threshers.
  • Grains are stored in automated grain storage or dispatched to market agencies.

Farm Approach: Joe Horan operates as a businessman rather than a traditional peasant farmer.

5.2. Comparison between Developing and Developed Country Farming:

  • Farm Size: The Indian farm is small, around 1.5 hectares, while the US farm is large, around 300 hectares.
  • Intensity: The Indian farm practices subsistence farming on small holdings, while the US farm practices intensive and commercial farming on large holdings.
  • Technology: The Indian farm uses traditional methods with some modern tools like tractors, whereas the US farm adopts advanced precision farming technologies and mechanized operations.
  • Livestock: The Indian farm has a small number of livestock, while the US farm does not mention livestock in the case study.
  • Market Access: The Indian farmer faces challenges in storage and marketing, while the US farmer has access to automated grain storage and market agencies.
  • Role of Family: In the Indian farm, all family members contribute to farm activities, while the US farm case study does not mention family involvement.

These case studies highlight the differences in farming practices, land size, technology adoption, and market access between a developing country (India) and a developed country (USA).

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