The primary aim of agriculture is to provide adequate food for an ever increasing human population. The issue of food production, preservation, storage and wastage has been challenging to both the agriculturist and the government.
Adequate food production makes food available for teaming population to be well fed. It also earns the country foreign exchange through exportation of food crops. One the other hand, food shortage will increase death rate and cause migration of people to where food is available. There will be competition among organism which in turn leads to starvation and cannibalism. Natality or birth rate will be affected through avoidance of marriage.
(a) Ways of Improving Crop Yield
Crop yield can be improved through the following ways:
- Breeding high yielding crops that are resistant to plant and animal disease.
- Using fertilizers and organic manure to maintain soil structure and fertility and ensure high crop yield.
- Using effective method of farming such as irrigation, tillage and draining systems.
- Combating weeds by using herbicides instead of cutlasses and hoes.
- Plant protection from pests and disease to improve yield.
- Putting more land under use by motivating and formulation policies that will get more people to be involved in farming.
- Practicing mechanised farming to obtain high yield. Tractors and modern farm implement to be adopted instead of manual farming.
- Conservation of land to keep and maintain soil fertility. Soil erosion should be prevented, bush burning should be avoided while mulching and crop rotation should be encouraged.
- Use of correct agricultural practices such as removing weeds regularly, giving adequate spacing and planting at the right time will improve crop yield.
(b) Causes of Wastage
Reasons why crops are wasted annually on farms include the following:
- Late harvesting of crops: some crops are over ripe, rot and fall off due to lateness in harvesting.
- Bad harvesting techniques and incomplete harvesting. Harvest should be invested on and used. Man may skip maize harvest and such maize may be wasted.
- Delay in transporting cropswhich make some drops to rot.
- Lack of good storage facilities; good barns and storage facilities should be made available. If harvested crops are not properly stored wastage will occur.
- Infections of farm produce by fungi, insects and vermin due to inefficient storage method.
- The decay of some stored crops caused moisture, especially when they are not properly stored e.g. groundnut, maize and rice.
- Lack of good roads and good means of transportationfor carrying farm to the market or urban centres.
- Poor method of preservation of some farm produce like tomatoes, carrots, vegetable and other perishable crops.
(c) Methods of Preserving and Storing Food
The methods commonly used in preservation and storage of foods include the following:
- Drying: food items such as meat and fish can be dried to preserve food and prevent damage. Drying remove water from food and prevent growth of organism that can cause decay.
- Salting: common salt is added to fish and meat. Salt kills the bacteria by high osmosis pressure.
- Refrigerating/ freezing: keeping food at low temperature prevents bacteria growth. Meat, fish and vegetables are preserves in this way.
- Smoking:this removes water from food and prevents growth of microbes on food. Microbes are killed by poisonous substances such as phenols, present in the smoke.
- Canning:if the food is sealed and air excluded, growth of micro organisms will be impossible. High temperature kills the microbes and kills the microbes and keeps the food.
- Chemicals:the application of preservatives and protective chemicals on the food keep pests away and also prevents bacteria and fungi from growing on the food, thereby preventing decay.
- Pasteurisation: it is special method of preserving milk. Milk is pasteurised by heating to 72% for 15 seconds and then cooled rapidly. This destroys micro organisms, thereby preventing the milk from becoming sour very quickly.
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