A brief history of agriculture….
Last week I spoke about the importance of due dilligence before investing your hard earned money in anything. For those of you who were paying attention, you will also remember that I had said that this week I would be talking about the different types of finance available to farmers in Zimbabwe. I’m going to postpone that topic till next week because I need to talk about why agriculture is EVERYTHING! I’ve been reading an amazing book by Jared Diamond called, ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in agriculture.
Agriculture arose independently in different parts of the globe. Some of the centres of origin of food production include:
- The Fertile Crescent;
- Eastern United States;
- Mesoamerica (this is an important historical region and cultural area in the Americas, extending from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, It is one of six areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently);
- Ethiopia; and
- West Africa.
There are 11 areas where agriculture is said to have developed independently.
The Fertile Crescent (also known as the “cradle of civilization”) is a crescent-shaped region where agriculture and early human civilizations like the Sumer and Ancient Egypt flourished. Technological advances in the region include the development of writing, glass, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation. Agriculture is said to have originated here as early as 9000 BC. From these areas agriculture spread around the globe.
In all the areas that agriculture developed so did civilization. Tribes were able to grow into villages, villages grew into towns and so on. There was no longer a need for early humans to move around hunting and gathering food. It also saw the rise of political systems and Chiefs who would oversee the distribution of the food.
Because people did not have to worry about food they were able to invent writing so that they could record their harvest. Humans had the time to pursue things like poetry, art and science. These societies were also able to develop their armies. This is all because farmers produced the food so that others could focus on different activities and not worry about survival.
Domestication brought along disease. Many of the diseases we are immune to today actually came from animals which were domesticated for farming. Why is this important you ask? These civilizations that developed agriculture were able to colonise the rest of the the world by military force and in some cases by (inadvertently) exposing the populations they were trying to control to new diseases. For example the Aztecs were exposed to smallpox by Spanish colonialists. The origin of smallpox as a natural disease is lost in prehistory. It is believed to have appeared around 10,000 bc, at the time of the first agricultural settlements in northeastern Africa. AGRICULTURE IS EVERYTHING!
By 2030 the worlds population will be over 8 billion and agriculture in Africa will be a US$1 trillion industry. It is no mistake that other nations are investing heavily in this sector and buying up valuable land. Neither is it a mistake that Africa’s richest man is investing heavily into agribusinesses across the continent.
At YouFarm we recognise the importance of agriculture and how it contributes to human civilization and development. This is why we advocate for creating smarter farms and smarter farmers. We believe that by getting people to invest in agriculture they can have a say in how their food is grown and contribute to society while making money. Next week we will go back and talk about the different types of funding options that are available to farmers.
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