The invention of agriculture

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The invention of agriculture was the first revolution. Appearing almost simultaneously around 10,000 years ago in different world regions-the Middle East, China, the Andes, and New Guinea-it progressively modified the relationship between human beings and nature. It ended the uncertainty of the hunter gatherer way of life and ushered in the echnological age; it permitted humans to settle and establish the first towns. The invention of agriculture is also known as the “Neolithic Revolution.“

Humans quickly domesticated certain species of animals, essential for agricultural work. Later, poorer quality soil and lack of water led to the invention of other techniques such as irrigation. Through agriculture and livestock rearing, humans molded and tamed nature.

Agricultural techniques and productivity developed slowly. Over the centuries more land was cleared for cultivation in order to increase yields. But the 1950s saw a new agricultural revolution with the advent of mechanization, the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and the selection of higher-yielding crop varieties. Nowadays, farmers in the developed world can produce 200 times more than they could before mechanization.

Today, agriculture and livestock rearing account for 99% of human calorie consumption. They are also the primary source of revenue for almost half of the worldís population: 2.6 billion men and women depend on them for their survival. However, this agricultural model is now in crisis. The land is exhausted, as is the environment. To the north and south, the countryside is facing a catastrophe. Global economic relations are being strained by agricultural exports and hundreds of millions of people are starving-even though trade agreements and food distribution policies are playing a crucial role. We need to find another system!

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