subsistence farming

This is the growing of crops and rearing of animals purposely for home consumption and the surplus is sold to meet other domestic needs e.g. clothes, medical care, shelter, education etc.

Characteristics of subsistence farming:

It depends mainly on family labor for cultivation, planting, harvesting etc.

Simple tools e.g. hoes, pangas are used.

The fields / plots are often small (less than 5ha family)

The standard of living is low.

Intercropping of crops is a common practice.

Modern methods of farming e.g. fertilizer application are not commonly practiced.

Gardens are normally fragmented / scattered.

Products are mainly for domestic consumption e.g. cereals, root crops, legumes and bananas.

Advantages of subsistence farming:

A variety of crops can be grown of the same time; this safe guards against hunger.

It requires less capital.

Growing many different types of crops protects the soil fertility.

Price fluctuations do not affect the farmers.

Meets the domestic and local demand for food.

Production for home consumption saves transport and marketing costs.

Disadvantages of subsistence farming:

Small scale farming tends to keep farmers poor.

Small scale production does not encourage mechanization.

Land fragmentation is common which hinders mechanization.

The rate of economic development is slow.

Labourers are redundant (idle) between harvesting and the next planting season.

As more inputs are added, farmers operate at a loss because of the law of diminishing returns.

Purchasing power of other goods in the market in low due of poverty.