Study Notes on Agricultural Processes
As with normative and empirical approaches, there is a noticeable gap between these two groups of models and it would appear that even satisficer models are failing to explain the observed agricultural phenomena adequately. Despite these different approaches and the many methods available to the geographer, theoretical developments in agricultural geography have been slow.
Indeed, it could be suggested that little real theoretical progress has been made since the pioneering work of von Thunen (1826). However, different modes of explanation have been adopted by geographers to explain the agricultural processes and phenomena over the earth surface.
These modes of explanation are as under:
- Environmental or deterministic approach
- Commodity approach
- Economic approach
- Regional approach
- Systematic approach
- System analysis approach
- Ecological approach
- Behavioural approach
1. Environmental or Deterministic Approach:
The view that the environment controls the course of human action is known as deterministic approach. The protagonists of this approach assume that elements of physical environment (terrain, slope, temperature, precipitation, drainage, soil, fauna and flora) act in a deterministic manner and control the cultivation of crops and all the decision making processes of the farmers about agricultural activities.
It is a belief that variation in agricultural decision making around the world can be explained by differences in the physical environments. The essence of determinism is that the history, society, culture, economy, agriculture and geopolitics are exclusively controlled by the physical environment.
It has been advocated by the environmental determinists that the characters of all vegetation, plants and animals including man are the products of temperature, moisture and prevailing weather and geo-climatic conditions. It has been proved by the ecologists and agricultural scientists that every plant has a specific zero below which it cannot survive.
There is also an optimum temperature in which the plant is at the greatest vigour. For each of the functions of vegetation like germination, foliation, blossoming or fructification a specific zero and optimum can be observed in temperature. The environmental determinists thus argued (Klages, 1942) that for any crop there are minimum requirements of moisture and temperature without which the crop will not grow. The cultivation of wheat in India may be taken as an example to explain this point.
The ideal physical conditions for wheat crop are found in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Going away from the ‘wheat heartland’ the intensity of its cultivation steadily declines in all directions. In the north of Punjab, the winters are severe in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir valley, in the south, the state of Rajasthan is arid with a high rate of evaporation, while east and southeastward (eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh) the geo-climatic and pedological conditions are less conducive for its cultivation.
Despite biotechnological advancements, most of the crops cannot be grown economically if the appropriate temperature conditions are not available. For example, the northern limit of rice is the mean annual isotherm of 15° C and during the transplantation and harvesting periods the mean daily temperature should remain over 25° C.
Similarly, the northern limit of date-palm is the mean annual isotherm of 19° C, and grapes ripen only in those countries in which the mean temperature from April to October (in the northern hemisphere) exceeds 15° C. Maize and rice do not ripe if the mean daily temperature goes down below 10° C during their growth, blossoming and fructification.
Since temperature is the major determinant in the distribution of crops, it is evident that their growth is essentially dependent on the total amount of insolation received during the life span of the crop. It is because of this factor that maize harvests within 80 days in the Sutlej-Ganga Plain and matures in about 110 days in Mussoorie, Shimla, Chamba, Bhadarwah and Kashmir hills.
Interestingly enough maize is sown in some of the counties of Scotland (Ayreshire etc.), valleys in Alps, but it does not ripen even after ten months because of the low temperatures even during the summer season. Consequently, it is purely a fodder crop there.
Similarly, the High Yielding Varieties (HYV) of rice which are matured and harvested within ninety days from the date of transplantation in the fertile plains of Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal take about 120 days in the valleys of Kashmir, Chamba and Dehra Dun.
The rainfall regime and availability of moisture also influence the decision making process of the farmers about a crop to be sown. There are xerophilous (tolerant to drought) and hygrophytes (needing more moisture) crops. It is because of this property of the plants that the crops which perform well in the wet climatic areas cannot be grown successfully in the arid and semiarid areas unless adequate arrangements for artificial irrigation to the crop are made.
The districts of Amritsar, Faridkot and Firozpur in Punjab, and Ganganagar and Bikaner in Rajasthan, which receive less than 50 cm rainfall, have become the important producers of rice. In fact, rice performs well only if the average annual rainfall is over 100 cm. The farmers of these districts grow rice with the help of canal and tube well irrigation.
The excessive irrigation in Punjab, Haryana and the Indira Gandhi Canal catchment area of Rajasthan has affected adversely the soils which are becoming waterlogged, saline and alkaline. The underground water table has been lowered and the farmers often complain that the soils are becoming increasingly hungry, needing more chemical fertilizers every year. Many of the waterlogged and saline and alkaline patches have lost their resilience characteristics.
Out of the physical determinants the impact of soils is also quite significant. The performance and yield of each crop varies with the variations in the physical and chemical properties of soils. For exam- pie, rice performs better in the clayey soil while wheat and sugarcane require well drained alluvial soil. Saffron, a leading condiment, cannot be grown out of the karewas of Kashmir and Bhadarwah velleys (J&K).
Although the influence of physical elements is being increasingly modified through improved technology, HYV, irrigation, fertilizers and insecticides, yet the natural environment puts a limit beyond which a crop cannot be grown successfully.
The environmental deterministic approach has been criticized on several grunds. The main weakness of this approach is that it is overly simplistic as it ignores the cultural factors and their influence on agricultural activities. Moreover, similar geographical locations may not necessarily result into similar cropping patterns. For example, the Manchuria province of China and New England region of the United States have almost similar locations and almost identical climatic conditions, yet their agricultural typologies differ from each other.
Man with his technological advancement has successfully diffused crops in new areas away from their traditional regions. Rice, a crop of wet regions of India (Assam, West Bengal, etc.), now has emerged as the first ranking crop of kharif season in the districts of Punjab and Haryana.
Similarly, wheat has been diffused in some of the districts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal. These illustrations clearly show that man is an active agent in the ecosystem and has enormous capacity of transformation of agricultural landscape. He is growing several crops even in the harsh and adverse physical environmental conditions.
In brief, it may be said that elements of environment put a limit on the cropping patterns and land use practices but farmers equipped with modern technology are almost free in their decision making about the crops to be sown. The influence of environment may be enormous in the regions of extreme climates (equatorial, hot deserts), its impact on the agriculture of developed societies is however, quite insignificant.
2. Commodity Approach:
The commodity approach of agricultural geography is based on the axiom that “the whole is more than the aggregate of its parts”. It focuses on the point that any phenomenon of agriculture should be examined and explained in totality and not in parts to ascertain the ground reality about the decision making process of the farmers. The main objective of the commodity approach is to make an in-depth analysis of a particular phenomenon, say a crop.
The approach may be explained with the help of an example. Suppose the geography of tea is to be discussed with commodity approach. In such study an attempt will be made to examine the environmental conditions (temperature, moisture, soil, tillage, etc.) required for its cultivation. Subsequently, the areal distribution, concentration, production, productivity, marketing, processing, distribution and consumption have to be discussed and explained.
The commodity approach is a colonial legacy. The geographers of Europe adopted this approach to ascertain the areas wherefrom the raw material may be obtained for their industries. During the second half of the nineteenth century and up to the First World War a number of monographs were produced in Europe about the geography of rubber, tea, coffee, cotton, jute, hemp, sugarcane and spices.
The focus of this approach remained to identify the regions which are more efficient in the production of certain crops. In India, D.S. Sandhu (1977) produced a monumental work based on the commodity approach in the form of Geography of Sugarcane Cultivation in Eastern Haryana.
This book gives a vivid description of the prevailing physical environmental conditions in the region and the cultural milieu of the area. The area under sugarcane, its yield per unit area, total production, marketing and processing have also been systematically examined.
Though commodity approach provides useful information about the geo-climatic requirements of individual crops, it does not take into consideration the behavioural aspects of the farmer in their decision making process. The normative questions, such as values, motives, attitudes and beliefs of the farmers are ignored. Any study made with this approach gives only a parochial picture of geographical reality of an agricultural phenomenon.
3. Economic Approach:
The economic approach developed as a categorical rejection of the environmental deterministic approach. The economic approach assumes that the farmer who takes decision about agricultural activity and the sowing crops in a given season/year is a rational or economic person. He has the full information about the elements of physical environment, the available technology and the demand of the commodities he produces. It is also assumed that the economic factors of market, production, transport and distribution costs operate on a group of homogeneous producers, who in turn react to them in a rational manner.
The protagonists of economic approach advocate that the relationships between physical environment and farmers are neither simple nor constant (Sayer, 1979). These relationships are governed by social and historical processes. The economic base or mode of production is seen as the key to understanding the complex web of interconnections involving the institutions, patterns of behaviour, beliefs, etc., of the farmers.
The farmers consciously discard one crop and adopt a new one to optimize their profits. The higher agricultural returns as a result of new cropping pattern change the material and technological base of the farmers. In brief, this approach stresses on economic determinism which has been quite popular in the writings of geographers of the developed and socialist countries.
In India, a tangible change has occurred in the cropping patterns during the last three decades. For example, the cultivation of rice has become quite important in the relatively less rainfall recording areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan (Ganganagar district) while wheat has been diffused from Punjab up to Dimapur (Nagaland) in the east, Maharashtra and Karnataka in the south and Suru, Dras and Shyok valleys of Ladakh in the north.
The cultivation of grapes in Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts of Maharashtra, pomegranates in the Talengana region of Andhra Pradesh, keenu orchards in Firozpur, Amritsar, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur districts of Punjab, the mint cultivation in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh, soya bean in the Malwa plateau of Madhya Pradesh and sunflower cultivation in the Sutlej-Ganga Plain have been diffused only during the last three decades.
In fact, the cropping patterns and crop rotations in the greater parts of the Sutlej-Ganga Plain are no longer static. The traditional rotation of crops has been discarded and the fallowing of land for the recuperation of soil fertility has been given up. These changes in agricultural mosaics of India are the results of farmers rationality and their desire to optimize their benefits by producing more per unit area.
The economic approach has also been criticized on several counts. The main objections raised are against its assumptions of rationality of the farmers and their full knowledge of the environment, technology and forces of market. In reality, man does not behave always as an economic person. Many of the decisions are constrained by the availability of workforce, capital and costly inputs. Despite fertile soil and suitable weather conditions some of the small farmers do not go for the cultivation of potatoes, vegetables and rice as these are labour intensive.
Sometimes the disposal, marketing and storage facilities come in the way of adoption of a new crop. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana are not much interested in the cultivation of vegetables and fruits as the processing industries are very few and these are highly perishable commodities.
Consequently, they are concentrating on the cultivation of rice (kharif season) and wheat (rabi season) crops which are highly soil exhaustive. The growers of these crops in areas of low rainfall argue that in the absence of elaborate marketing mechanism, rice and wheat they are more profitable as can be stored easily.
The assumption of full knowledge of the farmer about weather, inputs and market has also been criticized. In fact, the farmers of any part of the world are not in a position to acquire the full knowledge of the physical (weather etc.) and socioeconomic processes. In developing countries like India, agriculture is not even today adequately protected from the vagaries of monsoon. It is still, to a large extent, a gamble in the monsoons.
Crops failure occurs at an interval of three to five years with monotonic regularity. In certain parts of the country (Rajasthan, Marathwada, Assam, Bihar) agriculture is almost annually vulnerable to natural havocs like drought and floods. The uncertainty factor has deprived farmers of confidence in their better future. Thus, the farmers of the developing countries are generally not economic rational persons. To them agriculture is not a business but a way of life, a mode of living and this philosophy guides their decision making process about cultivation of crops and allied activities.
The political climate and government policies also have a close bearing on the farming activities. For example, the extension of terraced fields at the steep slopes in Japan is simply because of the scarcity of arable land partly as a result of the self-reliant policy in food of the government. The cost of production of paddy in such fields is more than the output, yet the farmers being subsidized by the government are doing rice cultivation even on uneconomic tracts.
Similarly, the farmers of Saudi Arabia are growing wheat, barley and vegetables in some of the wadis (oasis) and investing about $ 10 to get return equivalent to $ 1. Such decisions are not expected from the rational economic farmers but the government policies are in favour of self-sufficiency in the matter of food. The economic approach thus does not explain completely the decision making process of the farmers and presents only a parochial picture of the ground reality.
4. Regional Approach:
The concept of ‘region’ developed in the eighteenth century is still a basic notion of geography. Classically, region is a differentiated segment of the earth surface or an area having homogeneity in physical and cultural characteristics. As this phrasing suggests, the study of regions was for a long time closely identified with a definition of geography as the study of areal differentiation. The concept of region is quite important in all the branches of the discipline including agricultural geography.
It was Baker (1926) who strongly supported regional approach for the study of agricultural geography. Subsequently, Valkenberg (1931), Whittlesey (1936), Weaver (1954), Coppock (1964) and Kostrowicki (1964) emphasized the importance of regional approach to the study of agricultural geography.
In regional approach a country or an area is delineated into agricultural activity regions with the help of certain relevant agricultural indicators. Later on the agricultural attributes of the delineated regions are examined and explained. In regional approach, the micro regions constitute the micro regions which in turn become the components of macro region. This exercise continues till the entire earth surface is covered.
The main advantage of the regional approach lies in the fact that it provides an organized, systematic and reliable explanation of the agricultural phenomena spatially arranged over the earth surface. For example, the delineation of crop concentration, crop combination, and agricultural productivity regions helps in understanding the attributes of agriculture of the given region and explains the decision making process of the fanners.
An in-depth understanding of such regions also helps in generalization and the formulation of sound strategies for agricultural planning and development. This approach goes a long way in removing the regional inequalities in the levels of production of different crops.
5. Systematic Approach:
Systematic approach is also known as the ‘general’ or ‘universal’ approach. It was Varenius who divided the discipline of geography into general (systematic) and particular (regional) geography. The systematic approach is concerned with the formulation of general laws, theories and generic concepts. It is in contrast to regional geography in which models are designed with the help of certain assumptions.
In this approach an agricultural phenomenon (crop etc.) is examined and explained at the world level and then some generalizations are made. The spatial distribution of wheat or rice in the different continents and the explanation of its concentration in certain areas of the world is an example of systematic approach. The systematic and regional approaches to agricultural geography are however not opposed but complementary to each other.
6. System Analysis Approach:
The system analysis approach was adopted by Ludwig (1920) in biological sciences. According to James, a system may be defined as a unit (a person, agriculture, an industry, a business, a state, etc.) which functions as a whole because of the interdependence of its parts. A system consists of a set of entities with specifications of the relationship between them and their environment.
Agricultural geography deals with the complex relationships of physical environment, cultural milieu, and the agricultural phenomena. System analysis approach provides a framework to examine and explain the agricultural activities at the field, village, local, regional, national and global levels. The complex entities and mosaic of agricultural activities can be understood with the help of this approach. It was because of this advantage that Berry and Chorley suggested system analysis as a vital tool for geographical understanding.
Each agricultural system has several elements (tenure, tillage, and irrigation, biochemical, infrastructural and marketing). These elements have their reciprocal effect on each other. The behaviour of a system, therefore, has to do with flows, stimuli, and responses, inputs and outputs and alikes. The internal behaviour of a system and its transactions with environment can be examined.
A study of the former amounts to a study of functional laws that connect behaviour in various parts of the system. Consider a system that has one or more of its elements related to some aspects of the environment. Suppose the environment goes under change (e.g., deforestation in Himalayas, canal irrigation in Jaisalmer, Bikaner, saline and alkaline formations in Punjab, reclamation of swampy land in Sunderban Delta, encroachment of agriculture on pastures, etc.), then at least one element in the system is affected and effects are transmitted throughout the system until all connected elements in the system are affected.
For example, if irrigation is being developed in an arid area, the people will shift from cattle rearing to cultivation of crops which in turn will affect the ecology, and the good agricultural production will provide more impetus to the farmers to use their arable resources more intensively. It will lead to a chain reaction in the system and both the ecology and society will be transformed. This constitutes a simple stimulus response or input-output system. This behaviour is described by the equations (deterministic or possibilistic) that connect the input with the output (Fig. 1.2).
A system, in which one or more of the functionally important variables are spatial, may be described as geographical system. Geographers are primarily interested in studying systems whose most important functional variables are spatial circumstances, such as location, distance, extent, area;, sprawl, density per unit area, etc.
Though systems may be closed or open, in geography, they are generally open systems. In an open system, the elements of other systems also influence the decision making processes of the farmers. An in-depth study and systematic analysis of an open system thus becomes quite a difficult task. This point may be explained with the help of an example.
The valley of Kashmir, nestled in Himalayas and surrounded on all sides by high mountains, apparently gives the impression of a closed system. Functionally, the reality is different. Through the Banihal Tunnel, the valley is well connected with the rest of the country and the air and telecommunication linkages also provide enormous social interaction between the Kashmir valley and the rest of the world.
It is because of these linkages that the saffron growers, dry fruits (almond, apricot, walnut) traders, apple orchard owners and carpet manufacturers are very well connected with the neighbouring and distant agro urban ecosystems of the country and the word. The decision making process of the Kashmiri farmers is thus largely influenced by the elements of other systems too.
Owing to its utility, the system approach has been engaging the attention of geographers. For example, Chorely attempted to formulate thinking in geomorphology in terms of open system; Leopold and Langbein used entropy and steady state in the study of fluvial systems, and Berry attempted to provide a basis for the study of ‘cities as systems within systems of cities’ by the use of two concepts of organization and information in spatial form.
Recently, Wolderberg and Berry have used system concepts to analyze central place and river patterns while Curry has also attempted to analyze settlement locations in system framework. Thus, the geographers who focus attention upon spatial organization invariably invoke systems as Hag- gett’s account of locational analysis in human geography demonstrates.
In geography static or adaptive systems can be constructed easily. It is, however, difficult to make a geographical system dynamic for which we must combine time and space in the same model. Spaces may be expressed in two dimensions by cartographical abstraction. We may be able to present a satisfactory explanation for such a sys- tern but it is very difficult to handle the third or the time dimension in the same model.
In the existing complex agricultural situation of the world an input-output ratio is to be determined by taking into consideration the relevant indicators from within and outside of the system. For example, agricultural productivity in a region is the function of geocli- matic, socio-cultural and economic factors.
The interrelationships between these determinants and their influence on the agricultural productivity can be understood by system analysis with the help of correlation and multivariate regression. For example, only by analyzing irrigation system, biochemical fertilizers system, and marketing and storage systems, etc., one may establish the causes of good or bad performance of a crop in a region.
System analysis has been criticized on the ground that it is intrinsically associated with empiricism and positivism (Husain, 1995). The normative questions like values, beliefs, attitudes, desires, hopes, fears, aesthetics, etc., are not been taken into account by system analysts. Consequently, it gives only a partial and less reliable picture of the geographical reality.
7. Ecological Approach:
Ecological approach deals with the interrelationships of plants and animals (including man) with each other as well as with the elements of their non-living environment. This approach focuses on the interrelatedness of the biotic and abiotic environment and takes ecosystem as the home of man. The followers of ecological approach emphasize on the point that similar geo-climatic conditions lead to the similar agricultural activities. With the change in geo-climatic and pedological conditions, a change occurs in plants. Under the changed temperature and moisture regimes the plants (crops) have to struggle for their survival.
This process has been termed as ‘natural selection’. Those plants which survived were better fitted to the environment than competitors. Relatively superior adaptation increase; relatively inferior ones are steadily eliminated. Thus, the main focus of ecologists is on the study of ecological conditions that promote or discourage the individual organism (crop) and communities of organisms (crops association) in relation to their habitat.
The domestication of plants, their diffusion pattern and disappearance from some of the gene centres may be explained with the help of ecological approach. For example, during the neolithic period, about 10000 BP (before present), Southwest Asia was the region in which wheat and barley were domesticated. But this region is no longer the main producer of these crops.
The decline in wheat and barley cultivation in Southwest Asia may be explained ecologically. Over the period of last millennium the climate,’ especially the rainfall regime, has changed. Consequently, some of the plants could not adapt to this change and could not survive. Their place has been taken by other plants who could adjust in the semiarid and arid conditions of the region.
In the opinion of ecologists, the farmers adopt the agricultural activities which may adjust well in the existing temperature and rainfall regimes. Thus, environment influences the decision of farmers and they in turn modify the environment by their agricultural practices. In fact, scientific and technological advancements have made man as the most important factor of environmental change.
The main criticism against the ecological approach is its overemphasis on ecological processes and ‘natural selection’. The role of man (farmer) is underestimated in this approach. In reality man equipped with advance biotechnological knowledge is doing many practices against the prevailing ecological conditions.
Transplantation of rice in Punjab and Haryana in the scorching heat of the first week of June when the daily maximum and minimum temperatures record 45° C and 35° C respectively and the relative humidity dwindles to only 11 per cent seems to be against all the ecological principles but the farmers are doing this with the help of canal and tube well irrigation. Man is not an innovator; he is an imitator and adopter also. These qualities of human being help him in taking some decisions about agricultural activities which may be against the ecological settings and environmental conditions.
8. Behavioural Approach:
As a reaction to quantification, the behavioural approach has been adopted by some of the geographers to explain the agricultural activities and the decision making process of the farmers at the various levels. It became more popular after 1960 in geography.The essence of behavioural approach is that the way in which farmers behave is mediated by their understanding of the environment in which they live or with which they are confronted with. Behavioural geographers recognize that man shapes as well as responds to his environment and that man and environment are dynamically interrelated.
The behaviouralists argued that environment has a dual character, i.e:
(i) As an objective environment—the world of actuality; and
(ii) As a behavioural environment—the world of the mind.
In the real world, a farmer takes decision on the basis of his perceived environment.
The difference between the perceived and the real environment was vividly made clear by Koffka (1935) in an illusion to the medieval Swiss tale about a winter travel: “On a winter evening amidst a driving snowstorm a man on a horse back arrived at an inn, happy to have reached after hours of riding over the winter swept plain on which the blanket of snow had covered all paths and landmarks. The landlord who came to the door viewed the stranger with surprise and asked from whence he came? The man pointed in a direction away from the inn, where upon the landlord in a tone of awe and wonder said: Do you know that you have ridden across the Great Lake Constance? At which the rider dropped stone dead at his feet.”
This illustration shows the difference between the ‘objective environment’ of the ice covered lake and the rider’s ‘behavioural environment’ of a windswept plain. The traveller perceived the lake as a plain and took a decision to travel across the lake as if it were dry- land. He would have acted otherwise had he but known.
Apart from differentiating between the objective (real) environment and the perceived (mental map), the behaviouralists do not recognize man as a ‘rational or economic person’ who always tries to optimize his profit. According to them, agricultural decisions, most of the times, are based on behaviour (values and attitudes) rather than on the economic benefits.
In the tradition bound societies of the developing countries like that of India ‘agriculture is a mode of life’ and not ‘agribusiness’. It is because of the socio-religious values that tobacco cultivation is not being done by the Sikhs, piggery is forbidden among Muslims and dairying is a taboo among the Khasis of Meghalaya and Lushais of Mizoram.
It is also emphasized by the protagonists of behavioural ism that the same environment (resource) has different meanings to people of different socio-economic backgrounds and technology. For example, a tract of fertile land in the Sutlej-Ganga Plain has different meanings for the cultivators of different communities and farmers having different sizes of holdings.
Living in the same village a Jat farmer prefers to sow rice and wheat, a Saini goes for vegetable cultivation and a Gujjar and Gada concentrate for the cultivation of cereals, sugarcane and fodder crops. The same tract of land has different meanings for a small cultivator with plough and a large scale holding farmer who operates with tractor and modern technology.
The behavioural approach is a useful one as it helps in understanding the decision making process of the farmers who are largely guided by their social values in the decision making process. There are several weaknesses in this approach also.
The main weaknesses of behavioural approach are that it lacks in synthesis of empirical findings, poor communication, inadvertent duplication and conflicting terminology. Its terminology and concepts remain loosely defined and poorly integrated owing to the unsystematically organized theoretical base.
Another weakness of the approach is that most of the data in behavioural geography is generated in laboratories by doing experiments on animals and the results thus obtained are applied directly to human behaviour. Koestler (1975) pointed to the danger of this strategy, in that behaviouralism has replaced the anthropomorphic fallacy—ascribing to animals human faculties and sentiments—with the opposite fallacy, denying man faculties not found in lower animals; it has substituted for the erstwhile anthropomorphic view of the rat, a ratomorphic view of man.
Moreover, in the absence of general theories and models the behavioural approach been considered as merely descriptive and not explanatory in nature. As a result agricultural geography becomes like systematic inventory and description. In brief, the general criticism of the behavioural approach is that one can never know for sure whether one has actually succeeded in providing true explanation as the values of individual farmer and farmers community vary in space and time.
This allegation seems to be genuine but on a closer examination it loses much of its force as an argument for not taking the approach seriously. Although one can never know with certainty that a behavioural explanation of agricultural phenomena is true, the same objection is applicable to all empirical, interpretive and theoretical works.
For example, even the theoretical physicist can never be certain of his theories. Indeed, the history of natural science is largely a history of abandoned theories. Yet progress has been made, because with the failure of old theories, new more powerful ones have emerged. In social sciences a behaviouralistic interpretation will also be challenged in terms of new evidence and new argument. In the process of interpretation of old and new, a more accurate and powerful account of “what really happened” will gradually emerge.