Subsistence Farming vs Commercial Farming
In the civilization process, the mankind shifted from hunting and food gathering to food production. That is where the word farming came in to the vocabulary. Subsistence farming and commercial farming are two systems that arose with the evolution of farming. Even though it is about two farming systems, which fulfill the requirements of the humankind, there are many differences between both the systems in the aspect of methods, purpose, capacity, economy, etc.
What is Subsistence Farming?
The key aspect of this farming system is self-sufficiency. Therefore, farmers are focusing on their individual family requirements. Basically, they cultivate crops and raise animals to fulfill their food and clothing requirements. Farmer decides what crops that his family is going to consume in the coming year and cultivates those crops only. So a range of crops will be cultivated. Farming techniques are simple, and productivity is low. Since this system is more echo friendly, environmental pollution is very low or zero.
What is Commercial Farming?
The key aspect of this farming system is large scale production of livestock and crops targeting the market. Most of the time, harvested product is processed through the processing plants before it reaches the consumer. Here, the main objective is earning much profit as possible from low input. Therefore, the productivity is very high. To achieve that, economics of scale, modern technology, and both synthetic and natural resources are applied. This system is complex and contributes more to the environmental pollution, as well.
What is the difference between Subsistence Farming and Commercial Farming?
Tow major components of these farming systems are the crop and livestock production. However, in subsistence farming, single farmer/farming family is always involved in both crop and livestock production. But in commercial farming, in most of the occasions, it could be only crop or only livestock one landowner/farmer produce.
One key feature of commercial farming is that, very little number of crops or livestock is elected for production and that is operated in very large scale. Comparatively farms are much bigger and the produce are for the wholesalers, retailers, as raw materials for factories, etc, with the purpose of earning maximum possible profit. On the other hand, in subsistence farming, many crops and livestock are elected for farming. But farms are lot smaller, and self sufficiency in crop and livestock is the main target of the farmer.
Due to profit oriented nature of the commercial farming system, tools such as economics of scale are utilized to improve the productivity, and the system becomes complex. But due to self sufficiency nature of the subsistence farming system, productivity is very low, and the system is simple.
In both farming systems, farmers are involved in agricultural operations from crop or livestock establishment to harvesting. But many differences are there at the operational level. While commercial farming system is utilizing heavy and sophisticated farm machinery, from land preparation to harvesting stage, subsistence farming system depends on basic equipment. Utilizing of improved crop varieties, hybrids, and improved breeds are inputs for commercial farming. On the other hand, in subsistence farming, farmers heavily use traditional crop varieties and domesticated-wild breeds for their farming.
Since commercial farming system is targeting high profits, both organic and inorganic fertilizers, and synthetic pesticides are commonly used to increase the yield. Therefore, contribution for the environmental pollution is at higher levels. But subsistence farming system only utilizes organic fertilizers and natural pesticides, and pest control is by traditional methods. Therefore, contribution for the environmental pollution is at a very low or at zero level.
Comparison of Subsistence Farming vs Commercial Farming
1. In subsistence farming, single farmer is always involved in both crop and livestock production. But vastly it could be only crop or only livestock in the commercial farming when considering one farmer/Land owner.
2. In commercial farming, one or two crops or livestock is elected for production. But in subsistence farming variety of crops and livestock are elected.
3. Comparatively Commercial farms are much bigger than subsistence farms.
4. Out put is targeted for the wholesale market, retail market, as raw materials for factories, etc in commercial farming. But, their own consumption is the target of the subsistence farming.
5. Commercial farming is profit oriented, and profit is maximized through the implementation of economics of scale. But subsistence farming is aiming at self sufficiency.
6. Commercial farming system is complex, and productivity is high. Subsistence farming system is simple, and productivity is low.
7. Modern farming techniques are utilized in commercial farming, and traditional farming techniques are utilized in subsistence farming.
8. Heavy and sophisticated farm machinery are utilized in the commercial farming, whereas basic equipment are utilized in the subsistence farming.
9. Improved crop varieties, hybrids and improved breeds are used in commercial farming. But, traditional crop varieties and domesticated-wild breeds are used in subsistence farming.
10. Commercial farming depends heavily on synthetic agrochemicals and subsistence farming depends on natural agrochemicals.
11. Commercial farming contributes a very high percentage for the environmental pollution by comparison to subsistence farming.
Production capacity of the subsistence farming is not enough to satisfy the requirements of the humankind. Even though, commercial farming is profit oriented and contributes more for the environmental pollution, it is the only answer to feed and satisfy the basic requirements of the rapidly growing world population. Time has come to develop this farming system in more environmental and consumer friendly manner.