Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Subsistence farming is a mode of agriculture in which a plot of land produces only enough food to feed the family working it. Depending on climate, soil conditions, agricultural practices and the crop grown, it generally requires between 1,000 and 40,000 m² (0.25 and 10 acres) per person.
Subsistence farming, by definition, produces only enough food to sustain the farmers through their normal daily activities. Good weather may occasionally allow them to produce a surplus for sale or barter, but surpluses are rare. Because surpluses are rare, subsistence farming does not allow for growth, the accumulation of capital or even for much specialization of labor. The farming family is left almost entirely without implements or goods that it cannot produce by itself.
In the absence of hired labor, the area of land that a farmer can cultivate each season is limited by factors such as available tools and the quality of the soil. If this land will not produce a surplus, due to the fertility of the soil, climate conditions, tools and techniques, or available crop types, the farmer can do no more than subsist on it.
In the absence of a well developed commercialized agricultrual sector, with monetary demands on the producer, such as taxes, any given agricultural producer has relatively little incentive to move beyond subsistence farming. Expending effort to produce surplusses generates very little benefit, so the extra effort is usually wasted. Unfortunately, under these conditions years with poor harvests often result of food scarcety and famine.
Not all farmers have access to as much land as they can cultivate. Socioeconomic conditions may prevent an expansion of farming plots. If inheritance traditions require that a plot be split among the owner's children upon his death, plot sizes can steadily decrease.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details