History of Agriculture; How Agriculture Started -

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The history of agriculture is a subject for farmers / agriculturists or students studying agriculture and agriculture-related subjects/courses as well as for those who want to know more about agriculture. Before agriculture became what it is today it has passed several stages in terms of discovery, processes, methods, practices and techniques. Agriculture being a major source of the basic needs of man (food, shelter and clothes) and other products for human existence has over the years undergone modifications and applications. The history of agriculture is as old as human existence.
When agriculture started?
Agriculture started about 10,000 years ago.
Why agriculture started?
This is because man felt  an unavoidable need to survive. Besides, man has the responsibility of apart from taking good care of himself but also have responsibility of  taking care of his family. Because food, shelter, clothes, medicines, etc are very important for the survival of humans, man had no choice other than to seek for a way to have these basic necessities and therefore propelled man into agriculture.
How Agriculture started?
Because man and his family needed to survive and stay healthy and lively man started gathering fruits as well as hunting animals and other agricultural products(plant/crop products and animal products).  This is termed the gathering and hunting era. In this era man was making use of available crude equipment including sticks and stones. This is why this era may be referred to as the stone age.
Agriculture involves the production of  both plants and animals. Plants/crops, animals and their by-products served as a means of meeting man’s needs. The origin of agriculture is traceable to India, Asia and Egypt. As time went by, America, Africa and China began agriculture. Some factors ( e.g the climate)  made man to get involved in various agricultural activities. A big boost to agriculture was when fertilizer was discovered which significantly increased food (foods of plant origin) production in quantities and qualities.
There are different methods of agriculture  in different countries. The difference in agricultural practices are obvious in  developed, emerging, developing and underdeveloped countries. The developed nations have comparative advantages over underdeveloped and developing  nations in terms of agricultural productivity both in quantities and qualities. As a result of all these, the countries that  are technologically advanced in terms of agriculture therefore also have noticeable agricultural development. The advancements in agricultural technical know-how are  evident in their increased their production of agricultural products. It is equally postulated that a system  called Nutafian gained ground in Asia and China.
Agricultural history have it that the Nutafian system  contributed immensely in their agricultural activities. As a result of increased demand for agricultural products (plant and animal products) people then commenced exploring agriculture so as to make it better and sustainable. The quest for better ways for agricultural production has therefore over the years encouraged increased demand for agricultural resources. By history, people that started agriculture  believed that plants or crops that are now cultivated domestically were in past times wild in nature.

Historically, some notable hypotheses were put forward to explain the evolution of agriculture. One of these is the oasis hypothesis put forward by Raphael Pumpel(1980) which was promoted by Verve Gordon E.  This hypothesis states that because of dry conditions agriculturists at that time moved closer to oasis. Others are the evolutionary hypothesis, domestication hypothesis, specialization/innovation hypothesis, demographic theories, Hilly Flanks hypothesis,  Feasting model and the Levantine primary model.

In the Neolithic era, some argue that the real origin of agriculture cannot be established because by then writing has not been invented as at the time men started  gathering and hunting. The earliest plants cultivated were rye (10,000 BCE), wild grain in Africa and Asia(20000 BCE), rachis (about 9500 BCE), wheat, barley, flax, peas, fig trees etc.

In the bronze age, agricultural  activities  can be traced to the Sumerians(C. 5500 BCE). The Sumerians used special labour force in addition to the use of land for monocropping and irrigation. This was followed by the Egyptians who were farming at the Nile valley. Grapes, wheat, barley, apples, dates, etc were some of the crops cultivated in this era. Oxen were used for ploughing and sickles were used in harvesting sickles. The Syrians were known to make use of wagons, oxen, collars and headstals.

The classical era of agriculture was dominated by the Romans & Greece which they learnt from the Sumerians. The Romans were known for their Monarial economic system. Their farms have various sizes-small, medium and large. The management of the farms were the farmers themselves, slave managers, tenant farming as well as leasing them to tenants. Depending on the type of soil, their agricultural specialization was based on the production of olive oil, wine and grains.

Because of civilization each regions of the world started improving on their agricultural activities from time to time to what agriculture and agricultural practices, agricultural techniques and agricultural production is today. As long there are technological advancement with time, maybe  more sophisticated methods may be developed so as to  achieve better agricultural productivity in terms of quality and quantities.


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