What is Subsistence Farming and How Does It Work? - 2023 (2023)


Subsistence farming is the practice of raising enough food and water to meet one’s family’s needs but not enough to produce excess to sell or barter away.

It’s the most basic form of agriculture, practiced all over the world by millions of people, from subsistence farmers in developing countries to organic gardeners in the United States.

Subsistence farming has been around since humans first began cultivating crops, and it remains the primary way many people around the world feed themselves today. Here’s what you need to know about subsistence farming and how it works.

What is Subsistence Farming

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Subsistence farming is a type of agriculture where farmers grow crops and raise livestock primarily for consumption by themselves and their families, rather than for sale. This means that subsistence farmers must be able to produce enough food to feed themselves and their families throughout the year.

In order to do this, they must have a good understanding of the local climate and soil conditions, as well as which crops will do best in those conditions. They also need to be able to care for their livestock and keep them healthy.

If a subsistence farmer’s crop fails, or if there is a drought or other natural disaster, then the family may not have enough food to eat. These types of events can be devastating to subsistence farmers because they rely on one source for all their food.

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Subsistence farming can be difficult because it involves putting everything into growing the crops and raising animals in hopes that it will produce enough food for everyone in the family.

Farmers are often required to carefully plan how much land they use for what crops, how many animals they can afford to buy or breed, and when it is time to sell some of their goods so that they can make money. Although this farming method is hard work with little reward at times, people who live in rural areas might not have any other option but subsistence farming.

Why Do People Practice Subsistence Farming

The main goal of subsistence farming is to produce enough food to survive, rather than to make a profit. Farmers may also sell some surplus products or crops, but they do not rely on them as their sole source of income.

In most cases, subsistence farming takes place in rural areas and poor countries where the cost of living is lower so there’s less need to earn money through other means.

In these places, this method can be very sustainable and healthy because the farmer doesn’t have to worry about importing new seeds or pesticides from outside sources. For this reason, subsistence farming is considered one of the oldest forms of human subsistence known to man.

However, this farming method does come with its drawbacks. First off, it’s more difficult to keep pests away without using synthetic chemicals that are expensive and hard to obtain in subsistence farming communities.

(Video) Subsistence Farming

Secondly, people who live in subsistence farming communities don’t always have access to medical care when illnesses arise due to malnutrition or lack of vaccination coverage. And finally, subsistence farming can be very dangerous if natural disasters such as floods and drought strike.

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For example, during the recent flooding in Nigeria earlier this year, many subsistence farmers lost all of their crops and will now struggle to feed themselves and their families until next year’s harvest season begins.

Subsistence farming is a practice where people farm to provide for themselves and their families. They use what land they have available to them and work hard to maintain the land so that it can continue providing them with sustenance year after year.

Unlike traditional commercial farming which relies heavily on technology and monocropping, subsistence farmers can grow an assortment of crops by rotating fields between different types of plants.

One downside is that subsistence farming requires knowledge about how to farm effectively since you cannot simply go out and buy supplies at the store like you would on commercial farms. Another downside is that subsistence farming typically occurs in poorer countries which usually face economic difficulties.

The Details of How Subsistence Farming Works

Subsistence farming is a type of agriculture where farmers grow crops and raise livestock solely for their own consumption. This means that they do not sell any of their product or animals.

(Video) Subsistence and Commercial Agriculture

Instead, they use everything they grow to feed themselves and their families. While subsistence farming may seem like an antiquated form of food production, it still plays an important role in many communities around the world.

In some parts of Africa, subsistence farming is necessary because there are few jobs available outside the agricultural sector.

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For example, in Rwanda, more than 60% of the population lives on less than $1 per day, which leaves them unable to afford imports from other countries. As a result, this farming is a major economic force.

Other regions with high poverty rates have similarly found success with this farming method. A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization found that in Zambia, 88% of rural households depend on this farming method for at least part of their livelihoods.

In addition to providing food security, subsistence farms can also act as seed banks for local varieties of plants. When subsistence farmers pass down seeds from one generation to the next, these genetic resources stay within the community instead of disappearing through cross-breeding.

Many indigenous groups rely on subsistence farming for this reason, since it helps preserve both food supply and cultural heritage. Some examples include rice cultivation among Native Americans in North America and maize cultivation among Indigenous people in South America.

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With the threat of climate change looming, subsistence farming could be a way to preserve biodiversity. Researchers estimate that if global warming continues unchecked, up to half of all plant species will be extinct by 2100.

Subsistence farming offers one possible solution for safeguarding diverse crop strains and animal breeds as populations migrate away from areas threatened by climate change.

Where does it Occur

This type of farming is typically found in developing countries with little to no industrialization. In these areas, this farming method makes up the majority of agricultural production.

In contrast to commercial farms which maximize profit margins, subsistence farms operate on smaller scales without access to expensive technologies or even knowledge about crop rotation.

The average size of land holdings is around two hectares (about five acres). Crops are rotated annually so that the soil remains fertile and able to support life for years into the future.

Planting schedules usually include legumes like soybeans and peas because they enrich the soil with nitrogen. However, since it takes a long time to grow these crops they often go unused. These plants provide a good source of protein and make excellent fodder for livestock.

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Families living off this type of farming may not be as well off as those living in more developed countries, but they’re also more resilient to changing conditions. If famine strikes an area, subsistence farmers can find alternative sources of food from wild berries and roots.

They are also adept at raising animals for meat and milk. These skills allow them to take care of themselves when times get tough. On the other hand, subsistence farming does not allow for specialization. Without better tools or education about what crops to plant, subsistence farmers risk failure by relying on the whims of nature alone.

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