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

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Starvation and famine have been reducedHYV 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 rainHYV crops require a more reliable source of water – irrigation increases costs.
More food is grown on an area of land which increases farmers' profitsThe poorest farmers have been unable to buy HYV seeds so they are of no benefit to them

Biofuels

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

AdvantagesDisadvantages
The plant grows in dry areas which are not used for farming, so no valuable farmland is lost to producing biofuels in IndiaEnergy 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 atmosphereBiofuels 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 peopleIndustries 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 erosionBiofuels 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

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).

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