What is “subsistence agriculture?”

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Agriculture & Industry Notes

What is “subsistence agriculture?”

Subsistence agriculture is a method of farming in which farmers plan to grow only enough food to feed the family farming, pay taxes or feudal dues, and perhaps provide a small marketable surplus. Subsistence agriculture usually refers to a farm that is enough to feed the family but will not be enough for the family to participate extensively in the cash market. The typical subsistence farm has the range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye to what the family will need during the coming year, rather than market prices.
"Subsistence peasants are people who grow what they eat, build their own houses, and live without regularly making purchases in the marketplace."

What is “commercial agriculture?”

Commercial agriculture is the production of crops for sale, crops intended for widespread distribution (in supermarkets), and any non-food crops such as cotton and tobacco. Commercial agriculture includes livestock production and livestock grazing. Commercial agriculture does not include crops grown for household consumption, like a backyard garden or fruit trees.


What does “industry” mean?

An industry is generally any grouping of businesses that share a common method of generating profits, such as the "movie industry", the "automobile industry", or the "cattle industry".

Cottage Industries

A cottage industry is an industry – primarily manufacturing – which includes many producers, working from their homes, typically part time. The term originally referred to homeworkers who were engaged in a task such as sewing or lace-making. Some industries which are usually operated from large centralized factories were cottage industries before the Industrial Revolution. The business operators would travel around, buying raw materials, delivering it to people who would work on them, and then collecting the finished goods to sell, or typically to ship to another market. One of the factors which allowed the industrial revolution to take place in Western Europe was the presence of these business people who had the ability to expand the scale of their operations (produce more). Cottage industries were very common in the time when a large proportion of the population was engaged in agriculture, because the farmers (and their families) often had both the time and the desire to earn additional income during the part of the year (Winter) when there was little farming work to do.

The use of the term has expanded, and is used to refer to any event which allows a large number of people to work part time. For example, eBay is said to have spawned a cottage industry of people who buy surplus merchandise, and sell it on their auction system.

Commercial Industries
Commercial industries are industries that operate in large, centralized locations, such as factories.

What’s the difference between the two “industries?”

The difference is where the product is produced (made).

Within cottage industries, most people work from home to produce items to sell to a company. The company will then sell the finished product to a store that will sell directly to consumers. In commercial industries all of the production (making) of a product is done within one or more large factories usually owned by the business that is selling the product. The business will then sell to a store that will sell directly to consumers.

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