Agriculture overview

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Agriculture overview - the root word

The English word 'Agriculture' is adapted from the Latin word 'agricultūra'.The Latin word 'ager' means 'a field' in English and the word 'cultūra' means 'cultivation' in English. 'Agricultūra' literally means 'tillage or cultivation of field'.

Overview of role of agriculture in development of civilization

Burial chamber of Sennedjem - Scene:Plowing farmer
Agriculture scene from ancient Egypt

At some point of time man had transitioned from Hunter-gatherer to become a farmer. This transition might have taken place at least 10,000 years ago. There are different schools thoughts and theories explaining this change. Evidence of domestication of wheat, rice, potato, tomato, millet, sorghum, barley, dates, corn etc even before 7,000BC have been recorded. All the known civilizations like Andean civilizations, Sumerian civilization, Mehrgarh civilization and Indus Valley Civilization had shown that people had settled down in villages and towns leaving their nomadic life and have resorted to food production and agriculture.

Overview of subsistence agriculture

Until the advent of industrial revolution the farming was done for the needs of the farmer families and whatever was produced in excess was used for paying taxes, loans and trade. Majority of the human population toiled for agricultural production. Individual and joint families and groups of farmers toiled together for achieving food production. The knowledge gained was passed on to younger generations. Even the cropping decisions are taken keeping in mind the food and clothing requirements of the families.

Overview of development of agriculture spurred by industrial revolution

With the industrial revolution, the technology for synthesis of ammonium nitrate was developed giving boost to productivity of the cultivated land. Mining of rock phosphate further enhanced the productivity and farm products became lucrative commodities for the farmer.

Technologies in making land suitable for agriculture, improving irrigation methods and breeding of plants and farm animals to get improved strains have made farming economically viable and many farmers profited by the trends and improved their living conditions and life style.

Modern farming at cross roads - an overview

High tech. methods to increase food production

Many nations have subsidized the cost of inputs in agriculture for protecting and cushioning their farmers from negative impacts of food imports. Further they have levied high taxes and duties on imported of food.

With the world turning into a global village and as many nations are decrying the subsidies and levies as protectionist methods, the future of susceptible agriculture activities is becoming bleak as farmers are turning to cash crops. In the future this may cause food shortages in the developing nations and third world.

Though the developments in genetic research and plant breeding, availability of micro and macro fertilizers specific to crops and selective breeding and intensive farming of animals have increased plant and animal food availability many folds, there has been widespread damage to ecology and negative health impacts on humans.

Considering the overview of present trends, now farmers all over the world are realizing the negative impact of intensive agriculture on the environment and are turning towards sustainable agriculture, natural manures, renewable energy and bio-fuel for their agriculture activities. Supply chains are getting established connecting all the farming activities with close network connecting farmers and consumers. Farm based research is improving the efficiency of farming methods and efficacy of agriculture inputs.

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Author: Mahmood Syed Faheem
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