Changes in farming in developing countries

Genetically modified food (GM)

High Yield Variety (HYV) seeds were developed by scientists to improve food supplies and reduce famine in developing countries. These HYV or 'miracle' seeds can produce up to ten times more crops than regular seeds on the same area of land.

Advantages and disadvantages of HYV seeds

Advantages Disadvantages
Starvation and famine have been reduced HYV crops need a lot of fertilisers and pesticides to grow which increases costs and pollution
HYV crops are shorter so more able to withstand high winds and heavy rain HYV crops require a more reliable source of water – irrigation increases costs.
More food is grown on an area of land which increases farmers' profits The poorest farmers have been unable to buy HYV seeds so they are of no benefit to them


Biofuels are any kind of fuel manufactured from living things or from waste. Biofuels are a more environmentally friendly and sustainable source of fuel and they are a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels.

In India Jatropha plant seeds which are very rich in oil (40 per cent) are cultivated and processed. The oil can be used after extraction as it does not need to be refined. The oil, biodiesel, is used to power diesel generators and engines, for example in tractors.

Advantages and disadvantages of biofuels

Advantages Disadvantages
The plant grows in dry areas which are not used for farming, so no valuable farmland is lost to producing biofuels in India Energy used to grow and process the crops can be environmentally damaging, eg tractors burning diesel increases air pollution
They are a much cheaper alternative to fossil fuels, which are costly and pollute the atmosphere Biofuels like ethanol are more corrosive than petrol or diesel so can't be used in aeroplanes or boats
The cultivation of the plants provides jobs for people Industries are reluctant to invest heavily in the development of biofuels while fossil fuels are still available
Trees do not have to be removed for fuel so they protect the soil from erosion Biofuels may not be long-term economically beneficial compared to fossil fuels as very little is known about them

Changes in the rural landscape

Consolidation of land

As part of the Green Revolution, land reform has taken place. This involved the joining together of smaller fields to accommodate tractors and make the management of the land easier for farmers. Field sizes have therefore become bigger. Hillsides continue to be terraced and cultivated as land is precious.


Infrastructure such as roads and railways have been improved to meet the need to get crops to market quickly as well as allowing farm machinery to be brought into the region and transported around it. Roads have been built between major towns and cities and the quality of existing ones improved.

Employment structure and migration

The majority of the population still work in farming but there are fewer jobs available because of increased mechanisation. This area has become an area of out-migration - many people are leaving rural areas to try to find work in the larger cities of Patna and Kolkata (Calcutta).

  1. agribusinesses' A large-scale farming business that operates to make a big profit.
  2. agriculture Farming - especially arable or crop farming.
  3. animal habitats The area where wild plants and animals live.
  4. antibiotic Substance that controls the spread of bacteria in the body by killing them or stopping them reproducing.
  5. artificial chemicals Man-made substances that are used in farming to grow healthy crops.
  6. artificial irrigation When crops are artificially watered by sprinklers and irrigation canals due to a lack of rainfall.
  7. beef Meat that is produced from cows.
  8. biofuel A type of energy derived from renewable plant and animal materials, eg ethanol (often made from corn in the United States and sugarcane in Brazil), biodiesel (vegetable oils and liquid animal fats) and biogas (methane from animal manure).
  9. canal A man-made waterway.
  10. cereal crops Arable crops, eg wheat, barley and oats.
  11. cheese-making When cheese is made
  12. chemical free food Food that has been produced without the use of fertilisers and pesticides.
  13. combine harvester A farm machine used to gather cereal crops such as wheat from fields.
  14. commercial arable farming Growing crops on a large scale for sale.
  15. Common Agricultural Policy A set of European Union laws that impact on farmers.
  16. consumer (Geography) The final user of a product.
  17. countryside A rural area.
  18. crop rotation When fields are used to grow the same crop in alternate years. This helps to maintain soil fertility.
  19. cultivated When land is used for growing crops.
  20. diversification When farmers undertake non-farming activities to generate more income.
  21. educational tours An activity when people are guided around and given a talk about the working life of a farm.
  22. employment When people are paid to work.
  23. Environmental Stewardship Policy A scheme passed by the Government that pays farmers to take more care of their land.
  24. environmentally friendly Activities that are not damaging to the natural environment.
  25. environmentally-sensitive area A special designation for a farming area that needs to be protected because of its landscape, wildlife or historical value.
  26. European Union A group of European countries initially formed to remove trade barriers and reduce potential for war within Europe. Citizens of member states have the right to move freely to any other member state to work.
  27. famine An extreme lack of food that leads to large numbers of people starving to death.
  28. fertiliser A nutrient added to the soil to increase the soil fertility.
  29. fishing When people catch fish.
  30. food surplus When there are extra crops and more than enough food to feed a population.
  31. footpath erosion The wearing away of trails.
  32. fossil fuel Natural, finite fuel formed from the remains of living organisms, eg oil, coal and natural gas.
  33. fruit picking An activity when people pick fruit on a farm.
  34. grants Money that is given and does not have to be paid back.
  35. Green Revolution The application of modern farming techniques, eg fertilisers, high-yield variety (HYV) seeds and irrigation.
  36. guaranteed prices When people know for certain how much they will receive for their goods.
  37. harvested When crops are collected from the fields.
  38. High Yield Variety Seeds Seeds which can produce up to ten times more crops than regular seeds.
  39. holiday home A dwelling that is used as a second home when people go on a break.
  40. horse-riding An activity involving people riding horses for leisure.
  41. infrastructure The basic structures needed for an area to function, for example roads and communications.
  42. irrigation When crops are artificially watered by sprinklers and irrigation canals due to a lack of rainfall.
  43. irrigation channels A man-made ditch used to collect rainwater.
  44. land reform When land is redistributed to landless people.
  45. local services A number of activities that serve the general public for different purposes e.g. schools and shops.
  46. machinery Mechanically operated equipment, eg a tractor.
  47. manual labour When people do all the work by hand.
  48. manure Animal dung (solid waste) used as fertiliser.
  49. market The customers who buy goods and services.
  50. mechanisation In industry where machines carry out tasks which humans used to do.
  51. natural habitats The surroundings in which a particular animal is able to live and thrive.
  52. off-roading An activity which involves people manoeuvring four-wheel drive cars over rough terrain.
  53. organic farming When crops are grown without the use of chemicals.
  54. organic milk Milk that has been produced without the use of chemicals.
  55. out-migration When people move away from an area.
  56. paint ball An activity which involved people stalking each other in teams and 'shooting' them with paint.
  57. pesticide General name for chemicals used to kill pest species that feed on crops and reduce crop yield.
  58. plough A farm machine used to turn over the soil in preparation for seeds to be sewn.
  59. pollution Contaminating the air, land or water with harmful substances.
  60. profit The difference between revenue and costs. A key aim for all businesses.
  61. quad-biking An activity where people ride four-wheeled motorbikes over rough terrain.
  62. quotas A limit on the amount that can be produced.
  63. rural area An area of countryside.
  64. rural depopulation The movement of people out of the countryside.
  65. rural landscape An area of countryside.
  66. scenery The appearance of a place.
  67. services A number of activities that serve the general public for different purposes e.g. restaurants and cinemas.
  68. Sites of Special Scientific Interest A designated area in the UK which is protected.
  69. sprinklers A spray used to water crops artificially.
  70. standard of living The amount of wealth or personal comfort that a person or group of people have.
  71. subsistence farming When people only grow enough food to feed themselves and their family.
  72. tourism The business of providing holidays for people travelling for pleasure. These travellers are called tourists.
  73. tourist facilities Services which are provided for visitors e.g. toilets, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops.
  74. tractor A machine used to do various types of work on a farm.
  75. traffic congestion When a road is overused and vehicles using it are unable to move freely.
  76. urban area A built-up place, eg a town or city.
  77. water buffalo A large animal used to pull simple farm ploughs in poor countries that cannot afford tractors.
  78. wetlands Land saturated with water, such as a marsh or swamp.
  79. wildlife Non-domesticated/wild plants and animals.
  80. woodlands An area of trees (also called a forest).
  81. yield The amount of crops harvested from a certain area.