Farming in El Salvador Since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, fertile arable land has been a resource that has become a very sought after resource. Because of the scarcity of fertile land, countries with soil suitable for agriculture experienced a new presence of large industries, seeking to make a profit off of land that produces quality crops, in the shortest amount of time. This posed a huge threat to the country which already relied heavily on subsistence farming.
Having a country In which 54 percent of the total population and rural economy remains heavily on traditional subsistence farming (OSDL), followed by the Introduction of cash crops, Increased the deforestation seen In the country. The alma of this paper Is to examine the effects of subsistence and Industrial farming on the rainforest’s, and recommended ways to further prevent this from happening. The Introduction of plantations In El Salvador resulted In less land available for poorer fearfulness to farm for them selves, forcing them to find new land in which they can harvest their crops.
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This problem becomes n increasing factor as the density, and size of the population continue to rise. The rise in population results in more land being required for subsistence farming to support families. High poverty levels seen in rural El Salvador result in more children being born into poor families, where they were usually needed for working on family farms. This forces the family to expand their arable land to provide food and shelter for their already existing family and new child. These factors have turned El Salvador into both the most densely populated and the most severely deforested country in he continental Americas (Robert A.
Dull)(shown in picture 4). This improper distribution of land between subsistence farmers and agro-industries has resulted in vast deforestation leaving the country with less than 2% of primary forests, making it by far the most deforested country in Middle America (Robert A. Dull). Actions such as government interference, efficient distribution of land, and a greater focus on education should be implemented to help deter large families from practicing subsistence farming they way they currently are.
Small-scale subsistence farmers clear forests to plant crops, cut trees for building material and fuel wood, cause erosion, and they pollute rivers and streams; this Is true today and it was true 3000 years ago(Robert A. Dull). Subsistence farming has been present in Latin America since the domestication of animals and agriculture. After farmers were able to grow plants, rather then gather them, they began to settle In permanent locations typically those close to water and ferule soil. This created a dense population in specific areas.
As the population grew, more area was needed to sustain the population, communities began removing trees to create space for cultivation, lumber for fuel wood and to build shelters. This process damaged the environment back then, similar to what the environment Is facing there, which Includes; soil erosion (from lack of root systems), poorer alarm quality (from burning of forests and fewer trees to trap carbon), and polluted water systems (run off from impact from the introduction of agro-industries and cash crops which cover larger amounts of land and require more resources.
The introduction to industrial agriculture changed the countries economy and society in drastic ways, benefiting the industries and the El Salvadoran government, though making resources more scarce to the countries population forcing them to seek new resources. This introduction lead to an economic growth which has benefited a non-poor minority of the rural population and where many of the rural poor have cleared land for subsistence farming,).
This change was seen in 1997 where irrigation was developed in the low land area E,) which was then turned into plantations who’s main focus was to produce most capital, while saving labor to be used for agriculture rather then depleting forests. This land was also used to produce no agricultural employments, which placed restrictions on impoverished families who are unable to work in these factories, forcing them to continue the subsistence farming methods.
To do so, families must move out from the low land area and into the upper water basin of the rainforest’s where trees are then cut down to provide for their families. These family who re- allocate to find arable land live below the poverty line and lack the education needed to work in low land factories, or plantations. In El Salvador, about 50% of the population and about 60% of the rural population live below the poverty line (OSDL) (see graph 3). This impoverished nation faces extreme poverty due to the little focus on schooling systems in the country.
In 1999, a mere 24% of female and 18% of male adults were considered literate by the El Salvadoran government (as seen in graph 1). This lack of education seen nation wide made it difficult to qualify for a Job having o credentials, forcing uneducated family to remain in poverty, and rely on subsistence farming rather then other forms of employment. To do so, families must move from the low land area and into the rainforest’s where trees must be cut down to provide for their families (unnecessary sentence).
The introduction of industrial agriculture did not directly lead to the depletion of the forest but played a major part by forcing pre-existing farmers to re-allocate into areas that must be forested in order to farm. This introduction of industrial agriculture created a progress trap for he people in El Salvador forcing them to live this way until changes are made. As the country dependence for agricultural and non agricultural exports grew, their ability to redistribute the land effectively among subsistence farmers became increasingly harder to accomplish.
By simply removing the industries, the government and companies would face huge economical losses and the possible bankruptcy of the country. This forces the country to continue their ways until a solution is brought forward that would not only keep the economy stable, but provide enough arable and for subsistence agriculture and prevent the further deforestation of El Salvador tropical rain forest. Despite working their way into a progress trap there are still factors which enable the country to begin to restore the deforestation seen on the land.
As mentioned earlier, there are three possible options that I have thought when trying to come up countries’ education rather then agricultural sector. In the wise words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. “. As a country education increases, the number of people living below the poverty line becomes decreases, as educated people are able to find better Jobs and perhaps even start their own small business.
Placing more money into the education systems allows for better resources such as computers, text books and more teachers, providing better experiences for children while attending school. Another limiting factor of education is the countries culture, in which they believe that placing responsibilities on children at young ages and encouraging children to stay at home to help work on farms is more beneficial then receiving an education. It is estimated hat 20 percent of the income of poor families in El Salvador is the result of child labor (OSDL).
This not only shows how heritage is a factor, but also the fact that children provide a substantial amount of the income in families below the poverty line. This is where problems are encountered when implementing laws on education like making it mandatory as seen in Canada. Families would not be able to provide for themselves without the help from their children on the farms. To solve this, governments could issue a subsidy to families who send their children to school, by ether reducing taxes or giving the family money for the amount of time that the child is in schooling.
This money could be achieved by placing tariffs on agro-industries who are cultivating on land in El Salvador. This is Just one form of government interference that could be used to deter large plantations from expanding, and possibly open up land suitable for subsistence farming, rather then the removal of trees to create space for agriculture. Solutions for these problems are much easier to come up with then actually putting them into action.
A big limiting factor for these actions not being followed through is because we live in a capitalist economy when money is the driving factor. In 2011, El Salvador goods exports totaled 3. 4 billion dollars (1). The loss of this substantial amount of money could have devastating effects on the countries’ economy forcing a recession. Because of the economic loss involved by removing even a few of the industries, it would not be enough to prevent further depletion of the forest.
Another possible solution could be limiting the number of children a family has. Being the most densely populated country on the American mainland (NONE), distribution and allocation of resources is essential to prevent further expansion into the tropical forests. By diversifying crops with other farmers, different nutrients are extracted and added to the soil, complimenting each other, allowing the soil to remain fertile with little use of stimulants.
Farmers may yield fewer of some crops, but trades could be made among farmers working on the same field. This may be possible as it is very different from traditional El Salvador culture, where families provide for them selves. This is where changing the culture of he citizens in the country must take effect. For thousands of years the country has been harvesting trees for agriculture and shelters, and when space became scarce they would make more space by removing more trees.
This method is no longer able to continue as after the agro-industrial revolution, trees were able to be cut down much quicker then before, and plants were able to grow at a much quicker rate. This may become difficult to change because people are very accustomed to culture, as it dependence on subsistence farming has lead to the loss of thousands of acres paving less than 2% of the countries primary forests, making it by far the most deforested country in Middle America (Dull) (see epic 2).
Although agro-industrial farming has played a factor in this, companies find it in-efficient to remove trees, as the labor costs to do so is greater then those to establish on land already cleared. It is because of the countries’ poverty rate, heritage, and limited education that poorer families are forced to relocate in to forested areas where they can farm and provide for their family. Government interference must take place in order to aid the families n poverty, and to place greater restrictions on how many trees are removed each year.
Failure to do so will lead too more significant loss in the forest at a rate which will make restoration of these forests much more difficult. This has lead to the disruption of the earths 4 spheres, but with a direct impact on the biosphere. This removal of trees has altered the biodiversity of vegetation and reduced habitats for animals to live in thus creating the possibility for extinction. The prevention of deforestation in El Salvador is possible but actions must be taken in order to see results.