Crop failure can simply be defined as a situation whereby all crops on a farm are lost. For the situation to be considered a crop failure, it has to be severe enough to adversely affect the farmers, consumers, and the economy. The result of crop failure tends to affect farmers’ income, decrease the amount of food available for consumption, and also negatively affect the economy of a country, especially if it is an agriculture-dependent economy.
Causes of Crop Failure
Adverse Climatic Conditions
Adverse climatic conditions will most probably top the list of the causes of crop failure. Adverse weather conditions include conditions that are too harsh for crops to survive, including extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures. These adverse weather conditions cause the crops to either dry up due to the scorching sun or fail to grow due to extremely cold conditions.
Unpredictable Weather Conditions
In the recent past, the climatic and weather conditions have been quite unpredictable. The sequence of the cultivation seasons has been interrupted by the constant change in weather conditions. For instance, an extended period of drought, prolonged wet season, flash floods, and complete change of season. The unpredictable weather conditions are as a result of global warming and other human activities.
Pests and Diseases
There are a number of pests that affect the growth of crops in the fields. Some of these pests tend to be expensive to curb. For instance, most farmers in the developing world will watch their crops being consumed by pests such as armyworms, stalk borer, Black cutworm, and Asiatic Garden beetles simply because they do not have money to purchase pesticides. There are also some diseases that lead to crop failure. Some of these diseases include leaf blight, pythium, and southern rust. Pest and diseases, if not detected and dealt with early enough, may lead to a massive crop failure.
Poor Farming Practices
Poor farming methods and techniques will also lead to crop failure. The poor farming methods are mostly as a result lack of knowledge of modern farming techniques and lack of funds to embrace the technology in farming. The farming methods that could possibly lead to crop failure include mono-cropping and failure to apply fertilizers and pesticides. Application and practice of the new and the superior farming methods go a long way in curbing and reducing crop failure.
There are several human activities that affect the prosperity of crops in the fields. Application of harsh chemicals could lead to wilting of the crops. Other activities that could lead to crop failures include poor disposal of industrial waste products which may increase levels of the greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. The effects of these gases, such as sulfur dioxide, lead to fall of acid rain and blockage of leaf pores. These phenomena lead to crop wilting and the end result is crop failure.
Neglect By Farmers
Though not considered a very a major cause of crop failure, neglect of crops in the fields by farmers could lead to the catastrophe. A farmer may plant their crops but fail to take good care of them, especially during their crucial stages of growth, such as flowering and fruiting. Abandoned crops will lead to minimal or no harvest at all.
Consequences of Crop Failure
Rise of Food Prices
Crop failures lead to rocketing of the food prices. The shortage of food coupled with a high demand will definitely lead to higher food prices, which makes it quite expensive for many people to afford.
Lack of sufficient food to sustain a population’s demand leads to hunger. If the situation persists, the population will definitely starve to death. The remaining populations, which may survive the pangs of hunger, end up being malnourished, due to lack of food or certain nutrients in their bodies. Crop failure does not only affect human beings, the animals too are affected. If the crops that are used as animal feeds also fail, for one reason or another, the animals will definitely be in danger of starvation.
Failure of Agro-based Industries
Industries that use crops as their raw materials tend to be affected by crop failure. These industries include food processing industries and cloth manufacturing industries such as cotton. If the industries lack a consistent supply of raw materials, they are most likely to be closed down. If agro-based industries a closed down in a country, a number of people will lose their employment.
Crippling Of Economy
Crop failure affects the economy from different angles. The effect is usually more adverse in the developing countries, where crop farming is mostly the backbone of the economy. If there is an insufficient supply of food, which is brought about by crop failure, in most instances, the government is usually forced to import food from countries with surplus food. Importing food which farmers could have cultivated successfully leads to higher government expenditure. Loss of livestock in large numbers and shutting down of agro-based industries might also lead to the deterioration of the economy. The government will have no sources of revenue if the industries close down or are unable to generate more income.
Overcoming Crop Failure
Consequences of crop failure can be very frustrating to the government, consumers, and the farmers. It is necessary for a government and other concerned parties to be on the look out to reduce and curb crop failure.
But how, one would ask, is crop failure reduced? First, the government and the farmers should invest in good farming methods such as the application of fertilizers and pesticides. Secondly, farmers in areas that have been adversely affected by changing weather conditions should be encouraged to cultivate crops that are adapted to such new weather condition. Thirdly, the governments of countries that have agriculture as their core economic activities should support the farmers and offer educational activities on how to reduce crop failure. Finally, it is necessary for the government and other stakeholders to invest in storage facilities. The storage facilities go a long way in preserving food crops.