The Nature and Scope of the Agricultural Geography

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(1) The Introduction:

What is the nature and scope of the agricultural geography? What are its temporal and spatial aspects? What is the Universal Integrated Cubical Temporal - Spatial - Applicability Scope model of the agricultural geography?

(2) The Exposition:

The Nature:

Different leading authorities in the field of the agricultural geography have defined the nature and scope of this subject in the different terms. There is no unanimity of the opinion in the matter. However, the students of an introductory course in the subject need not be bogged down by this multiplicity of the views. Following discussion is enough to understand the basic nature and scope of this discipline.

Agricultural geography personified has a nature, just as any human being has a peculiar nature or the psychological tendency. As says H.J. Mackinder, the geography is a science, arts and philosophy by nature. So, it follows that the agricultural geography is a science, arts and philosophy, too.

It is a science because it follows the scientific methods of the observation, the collection of the data, the hypothesis, the theory and the model building ever open to the scientific scrutiny in terms of the relationship among variables under the study and the validity of such a relationship.

It is an art, since it involves quite a subjective approach, too in terms of the skilful organization of the field studies, the collection of the data, the map drawing and the interpretation of the results.

It's a philosophy, too, in terms of ever trying to philosophize the questions of the human beings and the environment relationship in the agricultural terms. It tries to frame the postulations as to what, why, how and where an agricultural activity takes place in a particular corner or the spatial point of the globe or the universe?

Finally, it of course inter alia is interdisciplinary, flexible, dynamic, friendly and far-reaching, too.

The Scope:

The scope, the ambit or the area of the agricultural geography is quite vast both in the temporal and the spatial terms, besides the applicability. The Universal Integrated Cubical Temporal - Spatial - Applicability Scope model of the scope illustrates it aptly. The given cube can easily be sliced into 90 pieces (3 Temporal faces x 6 Spatial faces x 5 Applicability faces).

Each slice represents one face each of the Temporal - Spatial - Applicability Scope. Thus, we may elaborate the scope of the subject in the 90 different ways. For example, let us cut the slice with the 3 following faces: the Future, the Philosophical and the Asthenospheric. This slice means that the agricultural geography can be studied from the point of view of the philosophical questions related to the use of the asthenospheric resources at any given point of the time in the future.

Although Hartshorne and Alexander opine that "the geographer is concerned primarily with variations from place to place rather than from time to time" yet a geographer can't escape studying the temporal aspects, too in terms of studying the varied geographical patterns of the phenomena prevailing at any given point of the time on the Earth.

A complete and detailed exposition of all the above mentioned 90 integrated slices is beyond the scope of this article. So, I have attempted the following brief description of the various facets of the scope of this challenging dynamic subject:

(1) The Temporal Aspect/Scope:

With the emphasis on the current contemporary situation, it includes in its ambit the scope of going back into the times, since the ills of many countries today have their roots in the past geographical economic spatial patterns like during the great age of discovery, 30 million young people aged 15-35 years were removed from the Africa during the Slave Trade Era which depleted human resources of that continent.

It caused a lack of the agricultural development in the Africa whereas the slave trading nations like the U.K., Spain, etc., flourished and built up the enormous monetary and capital assets which helped them later to kick tart and sustain the economic/political development in their own countries.

This led to the spatial variation in the agricultural and other economic/political development in that bygone era. But, its repercussions are still felt in the Africa, where agricultural and other economic/political development has quite been low due to the bequeathing of no significant agricultural and other economic/political development by their preceding generations.

Thus, one may divide the temporal aspect into the following broad categories:

1. Ancient           

2. Medieval                

3. Great Age of discovery               

4. 19th century

5. 20th century    

6. Contemporary        

7. Recent                                            

8. Present

(ii) The Spatial Aspect/Scope:

The agricultural geography has the enormous spatial scope which includes the following aspects/points:

1. The Vertical:

It means the spatial locations right from the ocean bed to the mountain top and the related agricultural phenomena. It includes the aspects like the asthenospheric, the lithospheric, the atmospheric and the galactic.  For example, there is a lot of the extra-terrestrial scope. With the opening up of the extra-terrestrial scope, the agricultural geography shall have to take into consideration the availability of the agricultural activities/possibilities in the outer space like the Moon, the Mars, etc.

2. The Horizontal:

It includes a study of the agro-geographic aspects in the horizontal direction in terms of the phenomena like the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, etc.

 (a) The Continental Scope:

It includes the studies of all the continents/islands in the agricultural terms and their interactions.

(b) The Hemispheric Scope:

The agricultural geography may be studied in terms of the eastern, the western, the northern and the southern hemispheres.

(iii) The Political-Activities Scope:

a. The Production:

It includes the studies of the production of all kinds of the agricultural activities like the crops and the livestock at all levels from the local to the international.   

b. The Exchange:

It includes the value addition to the agricultural products, the goods and the services created by the specialized services provided at each level of the handling, including the packaging, the promotion, the financing and the merchandizing of the agricultural products.

c. The Consumption:

It includes both the pattern of the agricultural consumption and the spatial aspects of the agricultural consumer behaviour.

d. The Developmental Scope:

 It includes the study of the spatial variation in terms of the agricultural development, i.e., the different categories of the countries like the more developed and the less developed countries.

(iv) The Other Aspect/Scope:  

(a) The Integrative Scope:

It includes the study of the spatial variation in the agricultural activities in terms of an integrated approach to all the spheres, i.e., the Lithosphere, the Atmosphere, the Hydrosphere and the Biosphere. It includes the studies of the underground spatial aspects like the asthenosphere, the sial, the sima, the mantle and the core so as to determine their influence on the agricultural activities of the human beings.

(b) The Global Scope:

It has the global scope because of the variations in the level and the interdependencies that exist in the international agricultural development. The whole Earth has become a global system with shrinking agricultural/economic/political distance. So much that even a person in the most remote geographical/agricultural/economic/political areas of the world now participates in an agricultural system that is less the local and the regional and more the national and the international in scope.

(c) The Theoretical Scope:

It has enormous theoretical scope. Theories are used in so far as possible to explain as to why the agricultural activities happen spatially as they are, i.e., Whittlesay's and Baker's theories are the excellent examples.

It includes the concepts in the analytical work.

(d) The Interdisciplinary Scope:

It takes help of the other subjects like the economics, the climate, the math, etc., to gauge the effects on the spatial variation in the agricultural activities, of the factors like the climate and the economy of a nation, the macro forces associated with the transition of the world agriculture from the subsistence to the modern commercial base, the international agricultural system and the multinational corporations.

(e) The Methodological/Approaches Scope:

Broadly speaking, the following are the "15 Golden" or the main methods of/ways of/approaches to the study of "the Agricultural Geography" and any other sub-discipline in the field of the geography or any other subject:

1. The Descriptive, Analytical, Prescriptive.

2. The Empirical (inductive)/Normative (deductive)/Optimiser/Satisficer.

3. The Deterministic (environmental/natural, human, nature-human)

4. The Subjective/Artistic, Objective/Scientific.

5. The Holistic/Whole/Homogeneitic, Isolationist/Parts/Heterogeneitic/Choreal, Particularitic.

6. The Systems, Systematic.

7. The Political: The Socialist, Capitalist, Communist, Democratic, Fascist, Liberal, Neo-liberal, Neo-conservative.

8. The Activity, Principle.

9. The Quantitative/Mathematical , Qualitative/Behavioural/Humanistic.

10. The Temporal, Spatial, Spatio-Temporal.

11. The Philosophical, Theoretical, Practical/Applicability.

12. The Ecological/Environmental/Consequential, Interdisciplinary.

13. The Gender, Racial.

14. The Civilian, Military.

15. The Economics, Geographical, Econo-Geographical.

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