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World agriculture: a typology of agricultural regions UPSC | Whittlesey classification of world agriculture region UPSC

What are agricultural regions:
An area that is homogeneous in some kinds of farming attributes is called an agricultural region.
For example, 
  • The cotton agricultural region in the Deccan trap.
  • Jute agricultural region in eastern Bengal.
Whittlesey classification of world agriculture.
  • Whittlesey's classification of agricultural regions is the most accepted classification.
  • Whittlesey uses both natural (soil, climate, etc.) and human-made (machine, labor, etc.) variables to classify the world agricultural region. 
  • He believed that agriculture meant both crop growing and animal husbandry, as both the activities depended on the type of soil.
Basis of Whittlesey's classification of the world into agricultural regions:

The following five basic variables form the basis of Whittlesey's classification of world agricultural regions:
  • Crop and Livestock association
  • Process of marketing and consumption patterns
  • The intensity of land use
  • Degree of Mechanization or agriculture technique used
  • Infrastructure associated with agriculture

Crop and livestock association:
  • Crops and livestock farming, both are dependent on soil fertility and types of soil. Livestock provides manure for crops and crops provide food for livestock.
  • Fertile lands are generally used for crops and infertile lands are used for livestock.

Process of marketing or consumption patterns:
  • Farming is done for two purposes, livelihood and commercial purposes. So these variables also form the basis of agriculture classification.
  • Some people do farming for their livelihood and some people do farming for marketing.

Degree of Mechanization:
  • Mechanization means the use of machines in farming.
  • The level of mechanization is better in the developed countries where population density is low such as the USA, Australia, Canada, and Russian countries while mechanization in agriculture is low in the region where population densities are high such as south Asia and southeast Asia countries.
  • Most of the farming in India and South Asia are labor-intensive and usage of machines is low as the farm size is low in the region.

The intensity of land use:
  • In some agricultural regions, crops are grown twice or thrice a year while in other places crops are grown once a year. 
  • In Intensive farming, there is heavy investment in the inputs of crops such as capital, fertilizers, and pesticides to increase the yield.
  • In extensive farming low levels of inputs such as capital, fertilizers, and pesticides are used.
  • In the densely populated region of the world, intensive farm practices are done.

Infrastructure associated with agriculture:
  • In some regions of the world, people built large farmhouses for farming and warehouses.
  • Types of structures such as farmhouses, warehouses, etc are also a basis for agricultural region classification.

Based on the above five variables,  Whittelesy divided the world into 13 agriculture regions:

  1. Nomadic Herding
  2. Livestock ranching
  3. Commercial dairy farming
  4. Subsistence crop and livestock farming
  5. Commercial grain and livestock farming
  6. Rudimental Sedentary Agriculture
  7. Shifting cultivation
  8. Intensive subsistence agriculture without Paddy crop dominance
  9. Intensive subsistence agriculture with paddy crop dominance
  10. Extensive commercial grain farming
  11. Mediterranean agriculture
  12. Plantation agriculture
  13. Horticulture Intensive agriculture

Nomadic herding agricultural region: 
  • This type of agricultural region is done in arid and semi-arid climates.
  • At present, the nomadic herding regions are found in the savanna and Sahara desert in Africa, central parts of Asia, northern Canada, and Mongolia. 
  • It is mainly done to produce food for families and to fulfill their basic needs. 
  • The Nomadic herders are dependent on the goats, sheep, cattle, etc

Livestock ranching agricultural region: 
  • Cattle such as goats, camels, and sheep are reared in the relatively low rainfall area[ semi-arid region] in the grassland region.
  • The regions are found in the western part of the USA, Canada, and Argentina.

Commercial dairy farming agricultural region: 
Commercial dairy farming is mainly done for milk & milk products. The following are the characteristics of Commercial dairy farming : 
  • High milk productivity 
  • High labor cost. 
  • Cattle breeding.
  • The high level of capital and machine investment.
Commercial dairy farming agricultural regions are found inNorth-Western Europe and North East America

Subsistence crop and livestock farming agriculture region: 
  • In the temperate region where only one crop is possible to grow in a year and the rest of the time livestock farming is done. 
  • This type of agricultural region is found in turkey, the Siberian region.

Commercial grain and livestock farming agricultural region: 
  • Some regions' mixed types of farming [both agriculture and livestock] are done simultaneously. 
  • High farm size, high productivity, and highly mechanized farming practices are some characteristics of the region. 
  • North-Western Europe and North East America are examples of this region.
Rudimental Sedentary Agriculture:
  • Rudimental Sedentary Agriculture is practiced in tropical lands of Central America, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
  • It is one type of subsistence agriculture practice where crop rotation is followed rather than field rotation( as in the case of shifting cultivation)
  • Important crops of the system are Maize, Potato, Sweet potato, banana, etc.

 Shifting cultivation agricultural region: 
  • These types of agriculture are done in generally hilly regions, forested areas, and high rainfall areas. 
  • The following regions are found in the Amazon basin, the kango basin in Africa, North East region in India.

Intensive subsistence agriculture[ without Paddy crop dominance] 's agricultural region: 
The following are the main characteristics of the region:
  • Small landholding.
  • The traditional method of agriculture.
  • Limited fertilizer inputs.
  • Farming is done for family consumption.
This type of Agriculture region is found in the plateau areas of the American continent, the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa.

Intensive subsistence agriculture [with the dominance of paddy crop] 's Agriculture Sector:
  • In the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world where annual rainfall is more than 200 cm, that area is mostly used for paddy cultivation.
  • The monsoon regions of India, Vietnam, the Mekong, and Cambodian regions are famous for paddy cultivation.

Extensive commercial grain farming's agricultural area: 

The following are characteristics of the region:
  • Low crop productivity.
  • Very big farms.
  • Mechanized farming.
  •  Farming is done for profit. 
These types of farming practices are done in the Steppe region of Europe and the prairie region of America.

Mediterranean agriculture region:
The following are the main characteristics of the region: 
  • Rainfall in the winter season, 
  • Arid in the summer season 
  • Citrus fruits are the main crop of this region.  
This region is found around the Mediterranean sea.
Plantation agricultural region: 
  • Tropical and subtropical regions are suitable climates for plantation crops.
  • Tea, coffee, and rubber are the main plantation crops. 
  • These types of crops are mainly done in hilly areas of  Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

Horticulture Intensive agriculture. 
  • These types of agriculture regions are found around CBD ( central business district). 
  • High market products such as vegetables and fruits are grown in this region.

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Try to solve the following questions:
  • What is the basis of Whittlesey's classification of the world into agricultural regions? (66th BPSC, 25 marks)
  • Present a classification of Agricultural Regions of the world developed by Whittlesey(UPPSC 2019, 10 Marks)
  • "Whittlesey agricultural regions are relevant even today. " Discuss. (UPSC)

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