By the end of the subtopic learners should be able to:
  1. Define the word agriculture.
  2. Identify the branches of agriculture.
  3. Explain the role played by agriculture to families and national economy.


  • Agriculture is the raising of animals and or the growing of crops to obtain food for family consumption or for sale off the farm.
  • Agriculture is broadly divided into five areas called branches of agriculture.
  • The five branches are; agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, animal husbandry, horticulture and agronomy.

a. Agricultural Economics

  • Agriculture economics deals with looking after the business side of farming.
  • It deals with how much inputs are invested in agriculture and outputs obtained from the agriculture or farming business.

  • It is concerned with the farming business, that is whether it is making profit or loss.

b. Agricultural Engineering

  • Agricultural engineering deals with the care and design of farm machinery, tools, farm buildings, water supplies and irrigation.

c. Agronomy

  • It is the science that deals with the growing of crops effectively and profitably while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.

  • It is the management of soil and growing of crops.

d. Animal Husbandry

  • It is the breeding and caring of animals for special purposes which are considered to be beneficial to humans.

  • For example breeding cattle for meat and milk.

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e. Horticulture

  • Horticulture is the growing of vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants.

  • Ornamental plants are grown for decorative purposes and landscaping, for example flowers and jacaranda trees.

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Roles of Agriculture

a. Supply food for people and feed for animals

  • The agriculture sector provides food for families in our country.

  • Agriculture also provides stock feed or fodder for animals.

  • Agriculture ensures that a nation has food security in order to reduce starvation.

  • Food security prevents malnutrition that has traditionally been believed to be one of the major problems faced by developing countries.

  • Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet in which nutrients are either lacking or are too much leading to health problems.

b. Source of income

  • Development in agriculture has also led to generation of income.

  • Examples of produce from agriculture are vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and eggs.

  • These can be sold and farmers get income.

c. Create employment opportunities

  • Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, especially for rural people who derive their livelihood from agriculture.

  • It provides employment for about 60-70 per cent of the population.

  • It directly contributes about 15-19 per cent to annual gross domestic product (GDP), depending on the rainfall patterns.

  • It is generally accepted that when agriculture performs poorly, the rest of the economy suffers.

d. Foreign currency generation

  • Agriculture leads to generation of foreign currency when its products are sold to other countries.

  • Agricultural commodities such as tobacco, seeds, cotton, tea and coffee increase exports of a country.

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e. Source of raw materials

  • The main source of raw materials to other industries is agriculture.

  • Many other industries such as milling, fabric, edible and non-edible oils, retailing of products, marketing use agricultural products in their business.

f. Conserving natural resources

  • It is the role of those involved in agriculture to conserve natural resources through proper management of agricultural practices.

  • Conservation helps to preserve natural resources such as soil, water, wildlife and air for present and future generations.



  • Agriculture involves growing of crops and rearing of animals for family consumption and profit making.

  • Agriculture has five branches namely; agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, animal husbandry, horticulture and agronomy.

  • It plays a positive role in the improvement of the economy.

  • Agriculture is also a source of food and raw materials to industries.