Asian Agriculture

Asian Agriculture

There are many environmental, climatic and human factors that have contributed to delineating the general characteristics of Asian agriculture. It developed in ancient times, favored by the fertility of the monsoon areas, rich in rainfall, and by the possibility of irrigating large arid and semi-arid bands offered by the great watercourses of the Mesopotamian, Indian and Central and South Asia regions. -Oriental. These areas still remain the richest from an agricultural point of view, despite the considerable impoverishment of the soils: if we exclude, in fact, the alluvial valleys, where the silt deposited by the overflows avoids the exhaustion of the land, the scarce fertilization and the over-exploitation resulted in a sharp decrease in natural fertility, helping to make the balance between agricultural-food production and population more and more precarious. The irrational exploitation of vast areas therefore aggravates the problem of the insufficiency of agricultural spaces which, despite being a problem felt everywhere, is particularly felt in Asia, a continent in which well over half of the entire world population lives. Hence the need to start a more rational use of agricultural land, following the example of Japan, whose agriculture is characterized by highly intensive exploitation. Although set up on different bases, Chinese agriculture is also characterized by forms of intensive exploitation, while in the populous areas of South Asia extensive crops, with modest unitary yields, involve a general situation of underdevelopment. Rather disappointing are the results achieved in India and other South Asian countries by the agricultural development policy launched in the 1960s, with the ambitious intention of embarking on a “green revolution”. It should have solved the problems of low crop productivity through the development of mechanization and the adoption of advanced agronomic techniques. Although in some regions there has been a not negligible increase in cereal production, especially grain, the green revolution came to a halt in the face of the difficulty of introducing modern agricultural technologies in very backward economic, social and cultural situations. In particular, it has encountered strong obstacles in excessive fractionation of agricultural land (in India over 50% of peasant properties consists of plots of less than one hectare), in the scarce use of fertilizers, natural as well as chemical, in the insufficiency of traditional irrigation techniques and in the almost total dependence on atmospheric factors, resulting in loss of crops due to drought or floods. Many of the difficulties of continental agriculture are shared by the Indonesian island agriculture, where a solution is sought by cultivating new areas in the outermost islands of the archipelago using part of the agricultural population of the overpopulated islands of Bali and Java. As for the situation of other countries, we move from the advanced and sophisticated experiments of the rich oil producers of the Persian Gulf, Vietnamese war, with disastrous food and health consequences especially for the Cambodian population, a part of which managed to survive only thanks to international aid.

Even in Viet Nam, according to the admission of the authorities of Ha Noi, after the end of the conflict with the United States, all the diseases due to food shortages have reappeared, given the insufficiency of the diet based on the consumption of rice and almost totally free of animal proteins (in recent years, however, the situation, thanks to the favorable economic situation, has gradually improved). According to COUNTRYAAH, rice is the staple food for the vast majority of the Asian population and above all the south-eastern area is part of what has been called the “rice civilization”, not only as the main agricultural-food production, but the pivot of all activities and of the same territorial organization. Irrigated rice-growing, which can yield up to two harvests a year, extends to the wettest areas of the monsoon region, characterizing the agricultural landscape of an immense span of land that stretches from India to China. Altogether the rice production represents approx. 90% of the world market, one third covered by China, followed by India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Thailand. Although in absolute figures the rice production is immense, the values ​​drop considerably if we consider the per capita consumption, taking into account that two thirds of the calories absorbed are supplied by cereals and that the other cereal productions are rather scarce. Despite the increase in recent years, grain production always remains below the requirement. The crops have also spread to areas other than the traditional ones, although the main grain areas remain those of the northern agricultural belt, where rainfall is more scarce and continentality more accentuated: northern China, high Indus plain, plateau of the ‘ Anatolia and plains of Central and Sub-Siberian Asia, where oats are also present. In these areas the cultivation of corn is also widespread, of which China is the largest producer in the area (second in the world after the United States). In its great extension and variety of environments and climates, China allows numerous other crops, ranking first, among Asian producers, for soybeans, potatoes, etc. There are also many, in the continental context, industrial crops, many of which were initiated and augmented by colonial powers, resulting in conspicuous migratory flows from the most populous and poorest regions to the large commercial plantations of Southeast Asia. Of the utmost importance are the crops destined for the textile industry, among which cotton, which has its main areas in former Soviet Central Asia, where cotton growing is the result of large irrigation works, and in China, India, Turkey, Pakistan. Jute, which used to have its traditional production area in China, is now mainly produced by India (alone about two thirds of the entire world production), followed by Bangladesh. Sugar cane is widespread in India, the Philippines, southern China, Thailand and the Indonesia, but the overall sugar production is not very high. Another important crop of humid tropical areas is tea, of which India, China, Sri Lanka and Japan are large producers which, together with some other Asian countries, supply approx. three quarters of world production. There are also extensive coffee plantations (Viet Nam, second world producer, and Indonesia above all) and banana plantations (India, Indonesia, Thailand); in the equatorial lands the second largest producer in the world, and Indonesia above all) and of bananas (India, Indonesia, Thailand); in the equatorial lands the second largest producer in the world, and Indonesia above all) and of bananas (India, Indonesia, Thailand); in the equatorial lands the Hevea to obtain rubber, in this sector the role of Thailand is quantitatively significant (over 3 million tons produced), followed by Indonesia (2.75 million) and Malaysia (1.2 million). Tobacco plantations are also important, particularly widespread in China, India, Turkey, Indonesia and Central Asia, with production exceeding 50% that of the world. Among the oil crops, in addition to soy, peanuts (over half of world production) and sesame are widespread in India and China. Prospects are also excellent for oil and coconut palms, while the olive tree remains limited to the Mediterranean area. Fruit-bearing crops, including the date palm, in southwestern Asia have also developed considerably.

Asian Agriculture

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