When did agriculture arise?
Agriculture began during the Neolithic, about 10,000 years ago, and now, a new study suggests that the beginning and extension of this practice was not the work of a single group, but that it occurred in multiple nearby populations, but genetically differentiated.
In principle, mankind lived by fishing, hunting and gathering fruits, but around 10,000 years ago man began to cultivate the land because what he had been doing was not enough to feed the growing population.
The beginning of agriculture was in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Investigations reveal that wheat and barley began to be cultivated in Syria, including Mesopotamia between the Tigre and Euphrates rivers and extended, through Lebanon and Israel to the Nile Valley, according to the carbon tests.
The beginning of agriculture is in the Neolithic period when the economy of human societies evolved from harvesting, hunting, and fishing to agriculture and livestock.
The first cultivated plants were wheat and barley. Its origins are lost in prehistory and its development was developed in several cultures that practiced it independently.
Those that emerged from the Middle East from Mesopotamia to Ancient Egypt, the pre-Columbian cultures of Central America, the culture developed by the Chinese in East Asia, etc.
“We know that agricultural techniques, including various plants and domestic animals, arose along the Fertile Crescent – Asian Asia-Pacific, between the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – without a particular center.”
The passage from hunting and nomadic gathering to sedentary agriculture was one of the most important behavioral changes since the appearance of humans in Africa about 200,000 years ago.
That transition produced profound changes in societies, including a greater density of population, new diseases, social inequality, urban life and, ultimately, the emergence of ancient civilizations.
In Asia, China started producing rice and soybeans. In America, agricultural exploitation began in Mesoamerica in the Aztec and Mayan peoples; planting corn, beans, cocoa, cassava, pineapple, and the Incas with the potatoes.
Thus began the development of agriculture, which had its great impetus with the development of the moldboard plow, pulled by horses and oxen, at the end of the 19th century. It could be said that it is the oldest economic activity and will continue until the world exists.
With the discovery of America, new horizons were known, with the new products to Europe, such as cocoa, corn, tobacco, beans, pineapple, papaya, avocado, and so on.
Such was the impact of agriculture on our species that archaeologists have debated for more than a century about how it originated and spread to border regions such as Europe, North Africa, and South Asia.
The importance of agriculture today
Is agriculture still as important today as it ever was? FAO statistics show that at the dawn of the new millennium, 2.57 billion people depend on agriculture, hunting, fishing or forestry for their livelihoods, including those actively engaged in these tasks and their dependents without work. They represent 42 percent of humanity.
Agriculture boosts the economies of most developing countries. In industrialized countries alone, agricultural exports amounted to about US$290 billion in 2001.
Historically, very few countries have experienced rapid economic growth and poverty reduction that has not been preceded or accompanied by agricultural growth.
In trade statistics, agriculture is considered only as an economic activity. Agriculture as a way of life, heritage, cultural identity, the ancestral pact with nature, has no monetary value.
Other important non-monetary contributions of agriculture include habitat and landscape, soil conservation, watershed management, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity conservation.
Agritourism has many followers in many developed and developing countries, as city dwellers seek a peaceful getaway and show a new interest in where their food comes from.
But perhaps the most significant contribution of agriculture is that, for more than 850 million undernourished people, most of them in rural areas, it is a means out of hunger.
They only have safe access to food if they produce it themselves or have the money to buy it. The sector that offers the best chance of earning money in rural areas is a thriving food and agriculture secto
Did you know that 95% of food comes from the ground?
Soils are essential for the vegetation that is cultivated or managed to produce food, fibre, fuel or medicinal products. 95% of our food comes from them.
Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production. Its sustainable management, as in Conservation Agriculture, could increase food production by up to 58%.
Did you know that 1 centimeter of soil can take between 100 and 1,000 years to form?
Soils are a non-renewable resource, their conservation is essential for food security, the maintenance of ecosystems and a sustainable future. To check the resulting vulnerabilities, let’s use a simile.
Suppose planet Earth is an apple. Cut it into quarters and throw three. The fourth one left represents the mainland. 50% of it deserts, polar lands or mountains, where the temperature is too high or too low and the altitude too high for agriculture and livestock.
Let’s cut the remaining quarter in half. Forty percent of what is left is soil that is too rocky, steep, low, poor or wet to support food production.
What measures can be taken to protect the soils of the planet?
Conservation actions could be summarized as:
- Prevent and reverse its degradation.
- Practice sustainable management.
- Prevent pollution.
- Avoid sealing, i.e. the process by which it is covered with waterproof material such as asphalt or concrete.
- Combat climate change.
- Reduce the carbon footprint.
- Preserve and increase the vegetation cover.
- Promote knowledge and information gathering on the state of soils and their conservation at all levels (global, national and regional).
- Stop food waste.
- Disseminate and raise awareness about the importance of soils.