Changes in the Rural Landscape

Developing countries

Graphic showing modern farming developmentsModern farming developments

There have been many changes in farming practices in recent years in developing countries like India. These are shown in the diagram below.

Poverty in India

Case study - the Lower Ganges Valley, India

Introduction

Rice farmer in Bangladesh
Rice farmer in Bangladesh

The warm, wet climate in India is perfect for subsistence rice farming. Subsistence farming means that food is grown only to feed the family, with no surplus remaining to sell for a profit. Field sizes are small, usually 1 hectare - the size of a football pitch - and sub-divided into about 15 plots.

There is a low level of mechanisation as farmers cannot afford high-tech equipment, so they use water buffalo to plough the fields and manual labour to harvest the crop. As rice requires a constant supply of water, fields are often constructed beside water, eg the River Ganges.

Agricultural developments have greatly improved farming in developing countries like India. We will look at each of the modern developments and discuss the impact they have had on the rural landscape.

Impact of new technology

Changes in farming policy have led to a large increase in food production in India because India has a rapidly growing population to feed. The Green Revolution involved the introduction of tractors, irrigation channels and chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The use of modern farming technology has had both a positive and negative impact on rural areas:

Positive and negative impact of new technology

PositiveNegative
Irrigation channels allow two to three harvests a year instead of one, because of a constant water supplyLand is constantly in use so soil quality becomes poorer over time
Crop yields increase which leads to higher profits for some farmersPoorer farmers cannot compete as they can't grow as many crops without irrigation
Some farmers can grow a variety of cash crops to further increase profitThe poorest farmers are unable to buy chemicals or machines so new technology is of no benefit to them
There is less physical work for people because of increased mechanisationFewer jobs are available because of mechanisation, leading to increased unemployment
The need for machinery and chemicals has created new industries and jobs, eg mechanics to fix tractorsMachines are expensive to buy and repair but this can be overcome through co-operatives where machines are shared among farmers
Living standards have increased as some farmers have money to buy goodsMany poorer families still live in extreme poverty as they cannot afford new technology