|Environmental Handbook Volume II: Agriculture, Mining/Energy, Trade/Industry (GTZ, 1995, 736 p.)|
|Trade and industry|
The agro-industry is based on agricultural and forestry production, and its purpose is to preserve and refine raw produce and to extract and concentrate the valuable constituents. The food industry constitutes the most important sector of the agro-industry.
Many agro-industries have developed from skilled manual production processes and accordingly can be carried out at varying technical levels. The following information, however, applies to small and medium-sized operations. The definition of small and medium-sized operations varies from country to country but a maximum of 100 employees can be taken as an upper limit. There are environmental briefs which focus specifically on a number of agro-industries, particularly large plants.
In no other area are development and environment so closely intertwined as in that of the agro-industry. Unforeseen implications can turn intended impacts on their head, and medium and long-term damage may prove to be of short-term benefit. Nowhere are effects on the biosphere -including human society - so all-embracing as in the agro-industry. And no other sector is so dominated by female employment; all the activities in this sector are of major importance to and have major effects on women. All agro-industry activities depend essentially on the limited time women have available, their extensive responsibility and on limited water and energy resources. This is why the socio-economic parameters and influences are priority issues in agro-industry projects.
A distinction can be made within the agro-industry between primary, secondary and even tertiary processing. Primary processing is basically most suited to small industrial operations, as technical input increases in line with processing complexity.