• Human activities which generate income are known as economic activities.
  • Economic activities are broadly grouped into primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary activities.
  • Primary activities are directly dependent on environment as these refer to utilisation of earth‘s resources such as land, water, vegetation, building materials and minerals. It, thus includes, hunting and gathering, pastoral activities, fishing, forestry, agriculture, and mining and quarrying. 
  • People engaged in primary activities are called red- collar workers due to the outdoor nature of their work.


  • Gathering and hunting are the oldest economic activity known. 
  • Gathering is practiced in regions with harsh climatic conditions.
  • It often involves primitive societies, who extract, both plants and animals to satisfy their needs for food, shelter and clothing.
  • This type of activity requires a small amount of capital investment and operates at very low level of technology. The yield per person is very low and little or no surplus is produced.


  • At some stage in history, with the realization that hunting is an unsustainable activity, human beings might have thought of domestication of animals.
  • Depending on the geographical factors, and technological development, animal rearing today is practiced either at the subsistence or at the commercial level.

Nomadic Herding

  • Nomadic herding or pastoral nomadism is a primitive subsistence activity, in which the herders rely on animals for food, clothing, shelter, tools and transport. 
  • They move from one place to another along with their livestock, depending on the amount and quality of pastures and water. Each nomadic community occupies a well-identified territory as a matter of tradition.
  • The process of migration from plain areas to pastures on mountains during summers and again from mountain pastures to plain areas during winters is known as transhumance
  • The number of pastoral nomads has been decreasing and the areas operated by them shrinking. This is due to
  • (a) imposition of political boundaries;
  • (b) new settlement plans by different countries

Commercial Livestock Rearing

  • Unlike nomadic herding, commercial livestock rearing is more organised and capital intensive.
  • Commercial livestock ranching is essentially associated with western cultures and is practised on permanent ranches. These ranches cover large areas and are divided into a number of parcels, which are fenced to regulate the grazing. 
  • When the grass of one parcel is grazed, animals are moved to another parcel. The number of animals in a pasture is kept according to the carrying capacity of the pasture. 
  • This is a specialised activity in which only one type of animal is reared.
  • Rearing of animals in ranching is organised on a scientific basis. The main emphasis is on breeding, genetic improvement, disease control and health care of the animals.


  • Based on methods of farming, different types of crops are grown and livestock raised. The following are the main agricultural systems.

Subsistence Agriculture 

  • Subsistence agriculture is one in which the farming areas consume all, or nearly so, of the products locally grown. It can be grouped in two categories — Primitive Subsistence Agriculture and Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

Primitive subsistence agriculture or shifting cultivation 

  • is widely practised by many tribes in the tropics, especially in Africa, south and central America and south east Asia.
  • The vegetation is usually cleared by fire, and the ashes add to the fertility of the soil. Shifting cultivation is thus, also called slash and burn agriculture 

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture-

  • This type of agriculture is largely found in densely populated regions of monsoon Asia. , there are two types of intensive subsistence agriculture.
  • Intensive subsistence agriculture dominated by wet paddy cultivation: 
  • This type of agriculture is characterised by dominance of the rice crop.
  • Land holdings are very small due to the high density of population. Farmers work with the help of family labour leading to intensive use of land.
  • Use of machinery is limited and most of the agricultural operations are done by manual labour. Farm yard manure is used to maintain the fertility of the soil. 
  • In this type of agriculture, the yield per unit area is high but per labour productivity is low. 
  • Intensive subsidence agriculture dominated by crops other than paddy:
  • Most of the characteristics of this type of agriculture are similar to those dominated by wet paddy except that irrigation is often used.

1. Plantation Agriculture 

  • Plantation agriculture was introduced by the Europeans in colonies situated in the tropics. Some of the important plantation crops are tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, cotton, oil palm, sugarcane, bananas and pineapples.
  • The characteristic features of this type of farming are large estates or plantations, large capital investment, managerial and technical support, scientific methods of cultivation, single crop specialisation, cheap labour, and a good system of transportation which links the estates to the factories and markets for the export of the products.
  • The French established cocoa and coffee plantations in west Africa.
  • The British set up large tea gardens in India and Sri Lanka, rubber plantations in Malaysia and sugarcane and banana plantations in West Indies.

2. Extensive Commercial Grain Cultivation

  • Commercial grain cultivation is practised in the interior parts of semi arid lands of the mid- latitudes.
  • Wheat is the principal crop, though other crops like corn, barley, oats and rye are also grown.
  • The size of the farm is very large, therefore entire operations of cultivation from ploughing to harvesting are mechanised .
  • There is low yield per acre but high yield per person.

3. Mixed Farming

  • Mixed farms are moderate in size and usually the crops associated with it are wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, fodder and root crops.
  • Fodder crops are an important component of mixed farming.
  • Crop rotation and intercropping play an important role in maintaining soil fertility.
  • Equal emphasis is laid on crop cultivation and animal husbandry. Animals like cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry provide the main income along with crops.
  • Mixed farming is characterized by high capital expenditure on farm machinery and building, extensive use of chemical fertilisers and green manures and also by the skill and expertise of the farmers.

4. Dairy Farming

  • Dairy is the most advanced and efficient type of rearing of milch animals.
  • It is highly capital intensive. Animal sheds, storage facilities for fodder, feeding and milching machines add to the cost of dairy farming.
  • Special emphasis is laid on cattle breeding, health care and veterinary services.
  • is highly labour intensive.
  • There are three main regions of commercial dairy farming. The largest is North Western Europe the second is Canada and the third belt includes South Eastern Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.

5. Mediterranean Agriculture

  • Mediterranean agriculture is highly specialized commercial agriculture.
  • It is practiced in the countries on either side of the Mediterranean sea in Europe and in north Africa from Tunisia to Atlantic coast, southern California, central Chile, south western parts of South Africa and south and south western parts of Australia. 
  • Viticulture or grape cultivation is a speciality of the Mediterranean region. Best quality wines in the world with distinctive flavours are produced from high quality grapes in various countries of this region.
  • The inferior grapes are dried into raisins and currants.
  • This region also produces olives and figs.
  • The advantage of Mediterranean agriculture is that more valuable crops such as fruits and vegetables are grown in winters when there is great demand in European and North American markets.

6. Market Gardening and Horticulture

  • Market gardening and horticulture specialise in the cultivation of high value crops such as vegetables, fruits and flowers, solely for the urban markets.
  • Farms are small and are located where there are good transportation links with the urban centre where high income group of consumers is located.
  • It is both labour and capital intensive and lays emphasis on the use of irrigation, HYV seeds, fertilisers, insecticides, greenhouses and artificial heating in colder regions.
  • This type of agriculture is well developed in densely populated industrial districts of north west Europe, north eastern United States of America and the Mediterranean regions.
  • The regions where farmers specialise in vegetables only, the farming is know as truck farming.
  • The distance of truck farms from the market is governed by the distance that a truck can cover overnight, hence the name truck farming.
  • a modern development in the industrial regions of Western Europe and North America is factory farming. Livestock, particularly poultry and cattle rearing, is done in stalls and pens, fed on manufactured feedstuff and carefully supervised against diseases.
  • This requires heavy capital investment in terms of building, machinery for various operations, veterinary services and heating and lighting.
  • One of the important features of poultry farming and cattle rearing is breed selection and scientific breeding.

Co-operative Farming

  • A group of farmers form a co-operative society by pooling in their resources voluntarily for more efficient and profitable farming. Individual farms remain intact and farming is a matter of cooperative initiative. 
  • Co-operative movement originated over a century ago and has been successful in many western European countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Italy etc.
  • In Denmark, the movement has been so successful that practically every farmer is a member of a cooperative.

Collective Farming

  • The basic principle behind this types of farming is based on social ownership of the means of production and collective labour. 
  • Collective farming or the model of Kolkhoz was introduced in erstwhile Soviet Union to improve upon the inefficiency of the previous methods of agriculture and to boost agricultural production for self sufficiency.
  • The farmers used to pool in all their resources like land, livestock and labour. However, they were allowed to retain very small plots to grow crops in order to meet their daily requirements
  • Yearly targets were set by the government and the produce was also sold to the state at fixed prices. Produce in excess of the fixed amount was distributed among the members or sold in the market.
  • The farmers had to pay taxes on the farm produces, hired machinery etc. Members were paid according to the nature of the work allotted to them by the farm management


  • The actual development of mining began with the industrial revolution and its importance is continuously increasing.

Factors Affecting Mining Activity

1. Physical factors include the size, grade and the mode of occurrence of the deposits.

2. Economic factors such as the demand for the mineral, technology available and used, capital to develop infrastructure and the labour and transport costs.

Methods of Mining

Depending on the mode of occurrence and the nature of the ore, mining is of two types:

1. The surface mining also known as open-cast mining is the easiest and the cheapest way of mining minerals that occur close to the surface.

  • Overhead costs such as safety precautions and equipment is relatively low in this method. 
  • The output is both large and rapid.

2. underground mining method (shaft method).

  • Used When the ore lies deep below the surface
  • In this method, vertical shafts have to be sunk, from where underground galleries radiate to reach the minerals. Minerals are extracted and transported to the surface through these passages.
  • It requires specially designed lifts, drills, haulage vehicles, ventilation system for safety and efficient movement of people and material. 
  • This method is risky. Poisonous gases, fires, floods and caving in lead to fatal accidents.

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