Chapter 5 Primary Activities Class 12 Geography Notes

Chapter 5 Primary Activities Notes for Class 12 Geography will ensure that remembering and retaining the syllabus more easy and efficient. Through these notes a student can boost their preparation and assessment of understood concepts. NCERT Solutions for Chapter 5 Primary Activities will serve as beneficial tool that can be used to recall various questions any time.

Chapter 5 Primary Activities Class 12 Geography Notes

Class 12 Geography Notes Chapter 5 Primary Activities

• Human activities which generate income are known as economic activities. Economic activities are broadly grouped into primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary activities.

• Primary activities are directly dependent on environment as these refer to utilisation of earth’s resources such as land, water, vegetation, building materials and minerals. It includes, hunting and gathering, pastoral activities, fishing, forestry, agriculture, and mining and quarrying.

Hunting and Gathering

• Gathering and hunting are the oldest economic activity known.

• This type of activity requires a small amount of capital investment and operates at very low level of technology.

• Gathering is practised in:
(i) high latitude zones which include northern Canada, northern Eurasia and southern Chile;
(ii) Low latitude zones such as the Amazon Basin, tropical Africa, Northern fringe of Australia and the interior parts of Southeast Asia.

• In modern times, Gatherers collect valuable plants such as leaves, barks of trees and medicinal plants and after simple processing sell the products in the market.

• Synthetic products often of better quality and at lower prices, have replaced many items supplied by the gatherers in tropical forests.


• Depending on the geographical factors, and technological development, animal rearing today is practised either at the subsistence or at the commercial level.

Nomadic Herding

• Nomadic herding or pastoral nomadism is a primitive subsistence activity, in which the herders rely on animals for food, clothing, shelter, tools and transport.

• They move from one place to another along with their livestock, depending on the amount and quality of pastures and water.

• A wide variety of animals is kept in different regions.
(i) In tropical Africa, cattle are the most important livestock, while in Sahara and Asiatic deserts, sheep, goats and camel are reared.
(ii) In the mountainous areas of Tibet and Andes, yak and llamas and in the Arctic and sub Arctic areas, reindeer are the most important animals.

• Pastoral nomadism is associated with three important regions:
(i) The core region extends from the Atlantic shores of North Africa eastwards across the Arabian peninsula into Mongolia and Central China.
(ii) The second region extends over the tundra region of Eurasia.
(iii) In the southern hemisphere there are small areas in South-west Africa and on the island of Madagascar.

• The process of migration from plain areas to pastures on mountains during summers and again from mountain pastures to plain areas during winters is known as transhumance.

• In mountain regions, such as Himalayas, Gujjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis and Bhotiyas migrate from plains to the mountains in summers and to the plains from the high altitude pastures in winters. 

• In the tundra regions, the nomadic herders move from south to north in summers and from north to south in winters.

• The number of pastoral nomads has been decreasing and the areas operated by them shrinking due to (i) imposition of political boundaries;
(ii) new settlement plans by different countries.

Commercial Livestock Rearing

• Commercial livestock is practised on permanent ranches. These ranches cover large areas and are divided into a number of parcels, which are fenced to regulate the grazing. When the grass of one parcel is grazed, animals are moved to another parcel.

• Important animals include sheep, cattle, goats and horses.

• Products such as meat, wool, hides and skin are processed and packed scientifically and exported to different world markets.

• Rearing of animals in ranching is organised on a scientific basis.

• New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and United States of America are important countries where commercial livestock rearing is practised.


• Based on methods of farming, different types of crops are grown and livestock raised.

Subsistence Agriculture

• Subsistence agriculture is one in which the farming areas consume all, or nearly so, of the products locally grown.

• It can be grouped in two categories:
(i) Primitive Subsistence Agriculture
(ii) Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

Primitive Subsistence Agriculture

• Primitive subsistence agriculture or shifting cultivation is widely practised by many tribes in the tropics, especially in Africa, south and central America and south east Asia.

• Shifting cultivation is also called slash and burn agriculture as the vegetation is usually cleared by fire,
and the ashes add to the fertility of the soil.

• It is prevalent in tropical region in different names, e.g. Jhuming in North eastern states of India, Milpa in central America and Mexico and Ladang in Indonesia and Malaysia.

• The major problems of shifting cultivation is that the cycle of jhum becomes less and less due to loss of fertility in different parcels.

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

• This type of agriculture is largely found in densely populated regions of monsoon Asia.

• There are two types of intensive subsistence agriculture.

→ Intensive subsistence agriculture dominated by wet paddy cultivation: This type of agriculture is characterised by dominance of the rice crop. Land holdings are very small due to the high density of population. Use of machinery is limited and most of the agricultural operations are done by manual labour. The yield per unit area is high but per labour productivity is low.

→ Intensive subsidence agriculture dominated by crops other than paddy: Wheat, soyabean, barley and sorghum are grown in northern China, Manchuria, North Korea and North Japan. In India wheat is grown in western parts of the Indo-Gangetic plains and millets are grown in dry parts of western and southern India.

Plantation Agriculture

• Plantation agriculture was introduced by the Europeans in colonies situated in the tropics.

• Some of the important plantation crops are tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, cotton, oil palm, sugarcane, bananas and pineapples.

• The important characteristics features of plantation agriculture are:
→ Large estates or plantations
→ Large capital investment
→ Managerial and technical support
→ Scientific methods of cultivation
→ Single crop specialisation
→ Cheap labour
→ A good system of transportation which links the estates to the factories and markets for the export of the products.

• Important Plantation Crops:
→ Cocoa and coffee plantations in West Africa.
→ Tea gardens in India and Sri Lanka,
→ Rubber plantations in Malaysia
→ Sugarcane and banana plantations in West Indies.
→ Coconut and sugarcane plantations in the Philippines.
→ Sugarcane plantation in Indonesia.
→ Some coffee fazendas (large plantations) in Brazil.

• Today, ownership of the majority of plantations has passed into the hands of the government or the nationals of the countries concerned.

Extensive Commercial Grain Cultivation

• Commercial grain cultivation is practised in the interior parts of semi-arid lands of the mid- latitudes.

• Wheat is the principal crop, though other crops like corn, barley, oats and rye are also grown.

• The size of the farm is very large therefore entire operations of cultivation from ploughing to harvesting are mechanised.

• There is low yield per acre but high yield per person.

• Found in Eurasian steppes, the Canadian and American Prairies, the Pampas of Argentina, the Velds of South Africa, the Australian Downs and the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand.

Mixed Farming

• This form of agriculture is found in the highly developed parts of the world, e.g. North-western Europe, Eastern North America, parts of Eurasia and the temperate latitudes of Southern continents.

• Usually the crops associated with it are wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, fodder and root crops. Fodder crops are an important component of mixed farming. 

• Mixed farms are moderate in size. crop rotation and intercropping play an important role in maintaining soil fertility. 

• The characteristics  of mixed farming are high capital expenditure on farm machinery and building, extensive use of chemical fertilisers and green manures and also by the skill and expertise of the farmers.

Dairy Farming

• Dairy is the most advanced and efficient type of rearing of milch animals.

• It is highly capital intensive. Animal sheds, storage facilities for fodder, feeding and milching machines add to the cost of dairy farming.

• Special emphasis is laid on cattle breeding, health care and veterinary services.

• It is highly labour intensive as it involves rigorous care in feeding and milching.

• It is practised mainly near urban and industrial centres which provide neighbourhood market for fresh milk and dairy products.

• There is no off season during the year and the development of transportation, refrigeration, pasteurisation have increased the duration of storage of various dairy products.

• There are three main regions of commercial dairy farming. The largest is North Western Europe the second is Canada and the third belt includes South Eastern Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.

Mediterranean Agriculture

• Mediterranean agriculture is practised in the countries on either side of the Mediterranean sea in Europe and in north Africa from Tunisia to Atlantic coast, southern California, central Chile, south western parts of South Africa and south and south western parts of Australia.

• Viticulture or grape cultivation is a speciality of the Mediterranean region. Inferior grapes are made into raisins and currants while superior grapes are processed into wines.

• This region also produces olives and figs.

Market Gardening and Horticulture

• Market gardening and horticulture specialise in the cultivation of high value crops such as vegetables, fruits and flowers, solely for the urban markets.

• It is both labour and capital intensive and lays emphasis on the use of irrigation, HYV seeds, fertilisers, insecticides, greenhouses and artificial heating in colder regions.

• This type of agriculture is well developed in densely populated industrial districts of north west Europe, north eastern United States of America and the Mediterranean regions. 

Truck Farming

• The regions where farmers specialise in vegetables only, the farming is know as truck farming. The distance of truck farms from the market is governed by the distance that a truck can cover overnight, hence the name truck farming.

Factory Farming

• It is practised in industrial areas of western Europe and N. America.

• It requires heavy capital investment. In this type, livestock, poultry and cattle rearing is done in stalls and pens, fed on manufactured feedstuff and carefully supervised against diseases.

Co-operative Farming

• Group of farmers pool in their resources voluntarily for more efficient and profitable farming.

• It help in processing inputs, selling products and in processing quality products at cheaper rates.

• Co-operative movement has been successful in many western European countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Italy etc.

Collective Farming

• It is based on social ownership of the means of production and collective labour. Collective labour or the model of Kolkhoz was introduced in former USSR.

• Farmers pool their resources like land, livestock and labour and was allowed to retain small portion for their own use.


• Extraction of minerals from the earth’s surface or beneath the surface is known as mining.

• The actual development of mining began with the industrial revolution and its importance is continuously increasing.

Factors Affecting Mining Activity

• The profitability of mining operations thus, depends on two main factors:

(i) Physical factors include the size, grade and the mode of occurrence of the deposits.

(ii) Economic factors such as the demand for the mineral, technology available and used, capital to develop infrastructure and the labour and transport costs.

Methods of Mining

• Depending on the mode of occurrence and the nature of ore, mining is of two types:

​(i) ​Surface Mining: It is the easiest and cheapest way of mining minerals close to the surface. Overhead cost is low.

(ii)​Underground Mining: It is used when one lies deep below the surface. It requires lifts, drills, haulage vehicles, ventilation system for safety and efficient movement of people and materials. This method
is risky. Poisonous gases, fires, floods may occur.

•​ Developed economies are retreating from mining, processing and refining stages of production due to higher labour costs, while the developing countries with large labour force and striving for higher standard of living are becoming more important.
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