cash crop

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Related to cash cropping: monoculture

cash crop

any agricultural crop grown for the market rather than for subsistence.

Historically, the increasing importance of production for markets – including such phenomena as PLANTATION agriculture, AGRIBUSINESS, MONOCULTURE – is a central feature of social and economic development with very wide implications, including changes in LAND TENURE and forms of labour. As well as whatever new opportunities production for market brings, it also introduces into previously largely subsistence PEASANT economies new uncertainties and disruptions associated with market forces, where ‘natural’ disasters such as FAMINE from pestilence, flood or drought had formerly posed the main problems.

In the THIRD WORLD, a process of substitution of cash crops for others has been associated with processes of MODERNIZATION or DEPENDENCY and is often under the influence of foreign markets and foreign corporations. However, in Third World countries, with the growth of URBANIZATION, internal markets are often just as important. Whilst in some cases it is possible to see the substitution of some crops for others, e.g. carnations and coffee for maize and beans in Colombia, at other times the same crop may be both a subsistence and a cash crop, e.g. rice in many Asian countries. In this case, the process of movement to cash cropping may involve fewer varieties of crops being grown, having a similar effect of forcing the producer into the market to buy food previously grown for subsistence. See also SUBSISTENCE ECONOMY OR SOCIETY.