Crop failure (also known as harvest failure) is an absent or greatly diminished crop yield relative to expectation, caused by the plants being damaged, killed, or destroyed, or affected in some way that they fail to form edible fruit, seeds, or leaves in their expected abundance.
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 a complete change of season. The unpredictable weather conditions are a result of global warming and other human activities.
Pests and Diseases
Several pests 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. Several diseases also lead to crop failure. Some of these diseases include leaf blight, Pythium, and southern rust. Pests and diseases, if not detected and dealt with early enough, may lead to 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 of lack of knowledge of modern farming techniques and lack of funds to embrace the technology in farming. The farming methods that could 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.
Several human activities affect the prosperity of crops in the fields. The application of harsh chemicals could lead to the wilting of the crops. Other activities that could lead to crop failures include poor disposal of industrial waste products which may increase levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The effects of these gases, such as sulfur dioxide, lead to the fall of acid rain and blockage of leaf pores. These phenomena lead to crop wilting and the result is crop failure.
Overcoming Crop Failure
The consequences of crop failure can be very frustrating to the government, consumers, and farmers. A government and other concerned parties must be on the lookout 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 conditions. 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, the government and other stakeholders must invest in storage facilities. The storage facilities go a long way in preserving food crops.