Primary activities are those that harvest or extract something from the earth. They are at the beginning of the production cycle, where, humans are in closest contact with the resources and potentialities of the environment.
Such activities involve basic foodstuff and raw material production, hunting and gathering, grazing, agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, and quarrying are examples. Before there was farming, hunting and gathering were the universal forms of primary production. Now their numbers are few and declining, and wherever they are brought into contact with more advanced cultures, their way of life is eroded or lost. Some areas of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, Amazon Rainforest, Tropical Africa. Northern Australia, and Arctic regions Mil: contain such pre-agricultural people. Also check the scope of economic geography.
Now, Agriculture, defined as the growing to crops and tending of livestock, whether for the subsistence of the producers or for sale or exchange has replaced handing and gathering as economically the most significant of the primary activities. Crop farming alone covers some 15 million square km (5.8 million sq. miles) worldwide about 10% of the Earth’s total land area. In highly developed commercial economies, where commercial agriculture is being done only 3% to 10%. labor force is engaged in this activity While on the other hand in backward and developing countries subsistence farming is in practice. Production for exchange is minimal. In this type of farming, more than 50% labour force is working in agriculture.
(i) After agriculture, role of animals in human life is so great, that herding has become an important primary economic activity. It is very difficult to say when the ancient man first mastered the art of domesticating the animals. In modem times, animals are used in such a great many ways that it is imperative to access the uses to which animals are put. In this modem world nomadic herding (subsistence herding) has been converted into livestock ranching, commercial dairy farming and mixed farming.
(ii) Fishing is another important primary economic activity. Fish provide more than 6 percent of the total daily protein intake of the developing world’s population and over 7% of the total protein supply worldwide. Only about 10% – 12% of the annual fish supply comes from inland water –rivers, lakes, and farm pounds. The other 88% to 90% of the harvest comes from the world’s oceans – from the marine fisheries. About two-thirds of the world’s annual fish catch is consumed by humans, while up to one-third is processed into fish meal.
(iii) Forestry or lumbering is another valuable primary economic activity. After retreat of continental glaciers some 11,000 years ago and before the rise of agriculture, the world’s forests and woodlands probably covered some 45% of the Earth’s land area exclusive of Antarctica. They were a sheltered and productive environment for earlier societies that subsisted on gathered fruits, nuts, berries, leaves, roots and fibers collected from trees and woody plants. Today, even after millennia of land clearance for agriculture and, more recently, commercial lumbering, cattle ranching and fuel wood gathering, forests still cover roughly 30% of the world’s land area. Although forests are widespread, but commercial forests are restricted to two very large global belts one, nearly continuous, is found in upper — middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, the second is located in the equatorial zones of South and Central America, Central Africa, and South-east Asia. These forests belts differ in the use, they serve. types of trees they contain and in the type of market or use, they serve.
(iv) Minerals have long been considered as the basis for the development of human civilization through time. After the primitive stone age, the copper age, began as man discovered copper from mines and learnt its utility, and came the Bronze Age and for long time mining remained a subsistence primitive economic activity. Historians of opinion that thousands of years before the Christian Era the Bronze age was replaced by the Iron Age. The real and massive exploration of the Earth’s hidden treasure or minerals started with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in England about one and half century ago — the essential basis of industrialization. With the passage of time, mineral extraction has become a commercial economic activity. A dramatic change of the economic scenario of any region or country may take place following the exploration of minerals. Saudi Arabia is, perhaps, the best example. Minerals are very unevenly distributed at different parts of the world. Abundant mineral resources s within any country are essential for industrial development. Primary producers are called red-collar workers.
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