The Agriculture Portal

Ploughing rice paddies with water buffalo, in Indonesia.

Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep, and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture.

The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels, and raw materials (such as rubber). Food classes include cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meat, milk, eggs, and fungi. Over one-third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the service sector, although in recent decades, the global trend of a decreasing number of agricultural workers continues, especially in developing countries, where smallholding is being overtaken by industrial agriculture and mechanization that brings an enormous crop yield increase.

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, and technological developments have sharply increased crop yields, but cause ecological and environmental damage. Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry have similarly increased the output of meat but have raised concerns about animal welfare and environmental damage. Environmental issues include contributions to global warming, depletion of aquifers, deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and other agricultural pollution. Agriculture is both a cause of and sensitive to environmental degradation, such as biodiversity loss, desertification, soil degradation, and global warming, all of which can cause decreases in crop yield. Genetically modified organisms are widely used, although some are banned in certain countries. (Full article...)

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Rice farming in Myanmar, 2006
Rice farming in Myanmar, 2006
Agriculture in Burma (officially Myanmar) is the main industry in the country with 6,300,000 hectares as of 2003. The most important crop is rice, and Burma was once Asia's largest exporter of rice, but as of 2003 had fallen to just 7th. Other main crops are pulses, cereals, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane, hardwood, fish, beans, butter beans, kidney beans, black eye beans, bamboo beans, red beans, mung beans, kenaf and peas. Cotton is also an important industry.

Under British administration, Burma was the world largest exporter of rice. Burmese crops helped to alleviate severe famines in India. Farmers use a slash and burn method to take down trees and make room for their crops. But they grow rice in open well irrigated fields. Agriculture in Burma provides 43% of Burma's GDP and requires 70% of Burma's workforce. This means that agriculture is the most important work in Burma. (Full article...)

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Karima agriculture.jpg
Field Irrigation along the Nile River, Karima, Sudan, North Africa

Did you know...

... the indigenous Gunditjmara people in Victoria, Australia may have raised eels as early as 6000 BC? There is evidence that they developed about 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) of volcanic floodplains in the vicinity of Lake Condah into a complex of channels and dams, that they used woven traps to capture eels, and that capturing and smoking eels supported them year round.[1][2]

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  1. ^ Aborigines may have farmed eels, built huts ABC Science News, 13 March 2003.
  2. ^ Lake Condah Sustainability Project. Retrieved 18 February 2010.

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