We have seen that even from the earliest times, people began to cultivate crops to use as food, to produce materials that could be used for clothing and shelter and to use as medicines. They also kept animals for food and clothing.
We need plants and animals not only to eat in order to live, but for other things too. From living things (plants and animals), coal, oil, gas and other things have been formed. These useful things that we get from living things can be called resources.
You should know about some of these resources hence to you can see how important and useful other living things are to us.
- Food crops
- Leafy vegetables. As you know we eat either cooked or fresh salads. They provide us with minerals (calcium and iron) and vitamins (vitamin A and C) which our bodies need. Examples include lettuce, cabbage, talinum, and other plant used for leafy soups.
- Fruits. Examples are peppers, tomatoes, okra, mangoes, bananas, oranges, lemons, pineapples, and guavas. They all provide the body with important mineral salt and vitamins.
- Seeds. Examples of seeds include: beans, maize, millet, sorghum, rice, barley, and wheat. Most of them are eaten as cooked foods. They provide us with starch, fat and protein. We used barley for brewing beer and wheat to make flour used in baking bread and cakes. We also used sorghum and maize to make some local drinks.
Underground crops. These include stem tubers or swollen stems such as yam, cocoyam, and irish potato; root tubers such as cassava, sweet potato, carrot, riddish; and bulbs like onions. They are called underground crops because they grow under the ground. They provide us mainly with starch.
Oil plants. These are palm, groundnut, cotton, coconut and olive. We produce cooking oil from their seeds or fruits. The oil is also used for other things like margarine.
2. Crops for textiles
These are crops that we use as cloth, ropes, baskets and dyes.
- Cloth. The fibres produced by cotton plants around the seeds is used for making.
- Ropes. Materials for sacks and nets are made from different kinds of plants like sisal, sorrel plant, guinea-hemp and jute. We also obtain fibres from the Baobab, Bauhinia and Greutvia.
3. Baskets. Palm leaves provide materials for making hats, bags, baskets, and other things.
4. Dyes. Dyes could also be obtain from plants too.
Some trees provide hardwood which is used for buildings and furniture, e.g, mahogany, ebony, camphor. Some tree provide soft wood which is used for wood pulp and paper, as well as for buildings. Also the leaves of some plants are used for roofs, fences and for making furniture. Palm leaves are used for roofing and fencing.
Plants provide us with firewood which is a source of energy.
5. Cash crops. Cash crops are crops that are produced mainly for sale, particularly to people in other countries of the world. They include fiber crops, oil crops, wood crops, and some food crops.
Some very well known cash crops are: fibre crops, such as cotton; oil crops such as groundnuts and oil palm; wood crops such as mahogany and ebony.
Other cash crops are rubber, coffee, and shea-butter.
Food crops and their preservation
Many of the plant food crops can only be grown during certain seasons of the year. In order to make sure that we have them in the season when they are not growing, we need to store and preserve them. We also store and preserve resources from animals.
There are many ways of preserving food crops.
Traditional ways are by salting, drying, smoking, and processing. Modern methods of preserving food include refrigerating, bottling and canning.
Salting. We preserve meat or fish by salting it. The salt prevents bacteria from growing on the meat, hence, bacteria cannot spoil the meat.
Drying. We preserve meat and some vegetables, like the leafy vegetables and onions by drying.
Drying removes water which bacteria and other micro-organisms need to live. By drying the crops, bacteria and other micro-organisms cannot spoil them.
Smoking. We smoke meat and fish and meat to prevent them from becoming spoil and decaying.
Processing. By turning cassava into garri, and yam and maize into flour, we preserve the crops. Hence, in processing, we change the food into different form.
Refrigerating. bacteria and micro-organisms that spoil food are not active when the temperature is very cold. If they are kept in 'deep freezers', food crops do not lose their flavour and food value for a long time.
We keep all kind of food crops in the refrigerators vegetables, meat, fish, butter. You can add to the list of examples for yourself.
Canning. You should be familiar with canned foods- milk, sardines, tomatoes, and other fruits (pineapple, mango and orange) that are sold in cans in our markets, shops, and stalls. Canning is done in special factories.
In canning, air is removed from the cans and the content is heated thus killing micro-organisms. Canned foods will keep for long time.
Preservation of food to prevent wastage; makes food available all year round and it also keeps food prices down.
- Plants and animals provide us with a number of resources things that are useful to us
- Resources from plants include food and crops, crops for textiles, wood crops, medicinal plants, and cash crops
- Resources from animals include food, wool, fur, leather goods, items of furniture and manure
- Methods of preserving food materials are salting, refrigerating, canning, processing, bottling, and smoking
- Preservation of food cut down on food wastage, makes food available all the time, and keeps prices down