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Tropical Agriculture


A Guide To Tropical Agriculture.

tropical agricultureTropical agriculture is cultivation as practiced in the tropical zone, i.e., in the land belt between the two tropics - the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical agriculture can further be sub-grouped depending on the climate and soil-type of the area - humid-tropical agriculture (carried on in rainforests), arid-tropical agriculture (practiced in dry and desert areas) and agriculture practiced in monsoon zones (areas experiencing clearly defined dry and wet seasons).

Tropical agriculture benefited most from the agricultural improvement program named, Green Revolution. Initially undertaken to increase cereal yields (by breeding plants that produced more food-grains for no extra effort), Green Revolution went on to revolutionize agriculture in the tropics by improving the farming practices followed in these regions. This advancement is amply reflected in the fact that since the 1950s crop yields have always exceeded population growth.

The only drawback of this Green Revolution was that though the yields were high, infections and diseases were common with these crops. In view of this problem and the rising environmental pollution resulting from Intensive farming practices, scientists are planning a second Green Revolution for the tropical region based on sustainable agriculture meant for small-scale farmers.

New Agricultural Strategies

The modern agricultural practices in the tropics are aiming at increasing yield by using power harnessed in Nature. Thus, farmers are taking to green manures and other organic substances to improve soil fertility.

Farmers are planting legumes to fix the all-important nitrogen in the soil. Plants' own defense mechanism and natural food chain are being tried as pest and weed control measures. Crop rotation and group planting are some of the other measures being undertaken to enhance productivity and as pest/weed management programs. These natural procedures are also aiding the cause of ecological and soil conservation.

Contrary to established practice of propagating food plants by planting seeds (which usually meant a prolonged harvest), these days tropical food plants are being propagated by plant-cuttings. This cuts short the reproductive cycle and speeds up harvest.

Irrigation has always a vital issue for tropical agriculture and that in spite of receiving sufficient precipitation. In fact, farmers in these regions lacked enough knowledge to properly utilize the water-resources available to them. Studies in this field has led to the development of irrigation procedures in these regions and now the farmers are reaping the benefits of high-tech irrigation techniques such as drip-irrigation and year-round irrigation at vastly trimmed down costs permitted by their limited finances. Tropical versions of irrigation, such as Bucket drip irrigation, water harvesting pits and manually operated Treadle pumps, etc. promise additional cropping seasons and increased productivity.

Tropical agriculture is no longer the same today as it was even a decade or two ago and all this has been largely due to development in agricultural sciences.