Difference Between Cash Crops and Food Crops

Farming has been the ultimate source of food and economic growth since time immemorial. With various ways of farming practices, the world seems to have spread its legs in the farming sector.


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The crops that are cultivated take a lot of effort and hard work. Various measures, machines and types of farming are undertaken to get high yields.

Many people earn their livelihood through farming only. The farmers grow crops, sell them and wait for the harvesting season to grow crops again, and this process goes on.

The rapid increase in the population rate has put forward a challenge to food security. Scarcity of food is one of the biggest issues in the world today.

To address this problem, several improved crop management strategies need to come into play as soon as possible.

The crops are produced in bulk and are of various types. Cash crops and Food crops are the two major types of crops.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cash crops are grown for commercial purposes and sold for profit, while food crops are grown for consumption by humans or animals.
  2. Cash crops are often monoculture, while food crops are grown in mixed farming systems.
  3. While cash crops and food crops are important for economic and food security reasons, cash crop cultivation can have negative environmental and social impacts if not managed sustainably.

Cash Crops vs Food Crops

The difference between Cash crops and Food crops is that cash crops are cultivated for commercial purposes or earning money only, whereas food crops are cultivated for domestic consumption of food.

Cash Crops vs Food Crops

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCash cropsFood crops
Market typeSold out in local as well as international market. Sold out in the local market only.
Capital requirementA huge amount of capital is needed for startup. Much capital is not needed for startup.
Farming techniqueComplex farming is practised to get high yields. Simple farming technique is enough.
RisksRisk of soil degradation, crop quality and price are there. Do not have many risks.
Crop productivity High productivity is required so strict measures are introduced. Productivity requirement is low as compared to the cash crops.
PoliciesSpecific policies are set for pricing and crop management. There are no such policies.
Purpose of farmingEarning money is the ultimate purpose. While survival is the ultimate purpose here.

What is Cash crop?

Otherwise known as the Profit crop, Cash crops are cultivated in order to gain profit. These are grown by the farmers and are then sold out in the local as well as the International market.

Various companies or parties purchase the crops by giving the required amount of money to the sellers. Tea, coffee, cocoa, cotton, sugarcane, spices etc. come under this category of crops.

The cash crops are mainly grown in regions with a temperate, subtropical or tropical climate. Rhodiola rosea is a cash crop grown in the arctic climate, which is an exception.

Talking about the regions of cultivation; Africa, Australia, Italy, United States and Vietnam are the countries where cash crops are cultivated.

Many farmers depend upon the production of cash crops to sustain their livelihood. With a higher productivity rate and high yields, cash crops face the issue of low tariffs and trade barriers globally.

Due to this, the issue of import and export arises which in turn affects the economic growth of some nations.

It would not be wrong to conclude that with suitable strategies, cash crops can offer an even-handed growth if utilized to their full potential.

cash crop

What is Food crop?

The world’s major food supply comes from food crops. These crops are generally grown by the farmers for personal consumption and also to maintain national food security. Cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, herbs etc. are examples of food crop.

Food crops are cultivated in almost all types of climate across the world. After the crop production, these are generally sold out in the local markets only. These crops are the main source of human food as well as livestock.

The produce is low, therefore any specific policies are not needed for the management of these crops. But there is a need to keep a check on pollution, licensing and over-harvesting of the crops for a better yield.

Environmental, as well as climate changes, pose a great threat to the rate of production throughout the world. In order to fight these destructive phenomena, developmental steps to predict the changes in the quality of food crops need to be undertaken.

food crop

Main Differences Between Cash crops and Food Crops

  1. Cash crops are cultivated for commercial purposes or earning money for the sake of living, whereas Food crops are cultivated for domestic consumption purposes.
  2. Cash crops are sold out in the local as well as the International market, but the food crops are sold out in the local market only.
  3. The capital requirement in the case of the cash crops is high as compared to the food crops.
  4. Complex farming is done for getting higher yields of cash crops, while food crops are cultivated through the simple farming technique.
  5. There are a number of risks involved in the process of production of cash crops, whereas the food crops do not face many risks.
  6. A high rate of crop productivity is the aim of cash crop production. But food crop production does not need a very high productivity rate.
  7. Several policies are set for the management of cash crops, while the food crops need no such policies as productivity is lower.
Difference Between Cash Crops and Food Crops
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0305750X89901939
  2. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rstb.2005.1755
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