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Geography Mock Exam Example Essays

This  essay was written under exam conditions. Whilst it is not necessarily a "model answer", it demonstrates the quality required to gain a higher grade in the exam. It was written within one hour.

Theme : Agriculture in LEDCs

a) Outline the factors affecting agricultural location in LEDCs (5 marks)
b) Identify the methods used to increase the potential of agricultural systems in LEDCs and evaluate the extent to which these methods have been successful.

Answer:

a) Geographic and climatic factors are more important in affecting agricultural location in LEDCs. Intensive agriculture usually takes place in fertile river plains such as in the Ganges Valley in India or the plateaus and plains of South and South-East China. Here, the temperate climate allows for a wide variety of cereal culture and some times even double/triple cropping seasons.

In mountain regions, such as in North West China, such as intensive agricultural is impossible as the ground is frozen for the greater part of the year. Tropical or Sub-tropical climates allow for rice cultures, especially important in South Asia.

The availability of water and irrigation is also important and these are also easily accessible in river plains. Most LEDCs locate their agriculture near sources of water whether these are natural or artificial.

 

Note: The candidate also needed to mention :
other environmental factors (e.g. soil quality, aspect)
economic factors (e.g. market, labour, cost and accessibility of technology)
social factors (land ownership, tradition)
political factors (government policy, availability of interventions)

 

b) Faced with demographic explosions, LEDCs have to deal with the problem of increasing their agricultural productivity to feed their growing populations. They have two solutions : either they choose to make more arable land available or they make the land already available more productive by using the methods of the Green Revolution. However, even though these two solutions result in rapid increases in productivity, they have dire environmental and social consequences.

Some LEDCs have chosen to clear away more arable land to increase productivity. The Trans-Amazonian project in Brazil was meant to open up Brazil's interior by felling tress and clearing inner transport networks. This led many poor farmers to move into other areas of the country, hitherto inaccessible, and to clear parts of the forest. This project has resulted in increasing Brazil's agricultural output threefold and has largely allowed it to be not only self-sufficient but produce enough to have export surplus as well. Brazil is the largest producer of soya beans after the USA. However, in spite of these positive economic consequences, in the long term, the felling of the forest has fragilised the biosphere and the ecosystem. One can even think of the threats that deforestation poses to the greenhouse effect . Moreover a number of indigenous tribes have lost their natural habitat. Several of the farmers who moved have still not received land titles and are vulnerable to the actions of MNCs . A lot of human suffering and a number of harmful effects have been the consequences of this attempt to increase production and this undermines the economic consequences.

The option of the Green Revolution is the one taken by most LEDCs. The use of High Yielding Varieties of traditional crops such as rice to increase production as well as the use of highly efficient chemicals and fertilisers to protect crops has proved to be very successful. The introduction of dwarf rice in India in 1965 increased output from the traditional12 00 t/ha to 4600 t/ha. The Green Revolution has succeeded in making several countries such as India & Indonesia self-sufficient to their agricultural needs. However, the success of this option can also be contested. Not only does it reduce the fringe benefits (fodder, fuel , land regeneration) of agriculture but it also has limited uses. For instance, HYV rice cannot be planted in the drier regions of India, like Orissa. The expensive seeds and fertilizer are often inaccessible to poor farmers. The Green Revolution has mainly benefited big farmers, who be investing in cash-crops have reduced the amount of produce available in local village networks. Indeed, some HYV plants and produce do not have the same nutritional value, a fact which sometimes worsens the under-nourishment of LEDC populations. The Green Revolution has resulted in saturated soils, a polluted environment and has marginalised poor farmers.

Another possible means of increasing agricultural potential is by using foreign food aid. This enables governments to have the initial financial and nutritional input to then make national networks efficient and self-sufficient. India's Operation Flood is a good example of this, using excess milk production from Europe and organising village networks with co-operatives, the milk deficiencies have been reduced. Major cities are now regularly and amply supplied. This has had its own negative effects as all milk production is commercialised and village networks are sometimes undersupplied.

LEDCs have used different methods to increase their agricultural potential but none can be declared an unquestionable success. Be it land reorganisation, the Green Revolution or food aid, all have had positive commercial effects but negative environmental and social ones.

 

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