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What is Plantation Agriculture? An Overview

by Edward Buckler
what is plantation agriculture

One of the earliest known examples of plantation agriculture is found in the Roman Empire known as a Latifundia. It is planted to produce large quantities of olives, grains, and wine seeds to export and strengthen the economic conditions.

What is Plantation Agriculture?

Plantation agriculture is a type of farming practice that comes under commercial purposes and the cultivation of crops on large scale to obtain yield for an entire year. This type of farming is mostly practiced to grow commercial crops or create big green plantations like pine or palm plantations.

In plantation farming, farmers and agriculturists usually, focus on crops that can return a good export profit in all seasons or an entire year. Plantations are of much focus because there is no need to sow the seed again and again for different seasons. With just one-time single sowing, the crop can last for years.

The major purpose of plantation farming is to support the commercial sector by producing food and other wood products at a high scale. Later the product is used for indusial purposes or export.


As one of the earliest plantations in the Roman empire of Latifundia is also started because of export proposes. Therefore, today, with the growing civilization the countries have started to export their produce which resulted in the adaptivity of plantation farming in the world.

Moreover, it is mostly practiced in tropical and subtropical regions where no much-skilled labor is needed to grow plants. As plantations can be self-sustained therefore there is no need for much-skilled labor or hi-tech facilities to grow a plantation.

Plantation Agriculture

However, the survival of a plantation depends on soil and climate because both can affect the productivity and sustainability of the plantation.


Major Characteristics of Plantation Agriculture

  • Highly sophisticated and need a scientific approach to grow plants at a large scale
  • It usually focuses on a single crop like coffee, tea, or rubber at one time
  • It is usually coming under the control of big firms or the state because it needs huge capital
  • It needs skillful management and the application of inputs
  • It is highly capital intensive
  • It is an export-oriented approach
  • It encourages migration and lets the communities exchange their cultural and social perspective
  • Types of crops cultivated in plantation agriculture have a multiyear life cycle e.g., more than 2 years

Factors Involved in Plantations

It is believed that its early start is found in the 18th and 19th centuries when a lot of foreign investors started hiring local workers to grow large plantations of rubber and tea. Because some of the major factors involved in plantation farming are inputs, capital, and labor.


As to growing plantations there is a need for huge capital to own lands, hire labor and bear the expenses of all inputs. Therefore, only a huge investor can only afford a plantation farming project. Moreover, currently, in Malaysia, most of the rubber plantations are owned by British companies.


Factors Involved in Plantations

Plantations and Ecosystem

Plantation farming can have a significant impact on the ecosystem. Because if the agriculturist cut the already present forests to use the land for growing plantations that will result in a loss of biodiversity and natural habitat. This loss will endanger plenty of animals and botanical biodiversity in the world.

However, if plantations are grown on barren land this will help the farmers to regain the fertility of the soil, combat global warming, and can provide additional habitat for natural biodiversity.

Examples of Plantations

  • Tea – India and Sri Lanka
  • Coffee – Brazil
  • Sugarcane – Mauritius and Bangladesh
  • Cashew – Burundi, Tanzania, Vietnam, Philippines, and Benin
  • Banana – China, Indonesia, and Brazil
  • Cotton – China, India, and the United States
  • Rubber tree – Malaysia
  • Palm oil – Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia
  • Cocoa – Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria


Plantation agriculture is a large-scale farming practice that has been both praised for its economic benefits and criticized for its negative environmental and social impacts. While it has been an important source of income and employment for many developing countries, it has also caused issues such as deforestation, soil degradation, and exploitation of workers. To address these challenges, there are ongoing efforts to promote sustainable farming practices, protect natural habitats, and ensure fair labor practices.

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