chapter  4
25 Pages

Historical patterns in agriculture

ByIvette Perfecto, John Vandermeer, Angus Wright

In this chapter, the authors present an in-depth elaboration of precisely what that industrial system is, where it came from, and why it is in crisis with realtion to agricultural systems. Worldwide, many non-industrial agriculturalists practise an agriculture that may be similar to that practised by early agriculturalists, variously referred to as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture, swidden agriculture, or shifting agriculture. A central challenge for agriculture has always been the maintenance of soil fertility. Parallel to the increasing use of fertilizers, farmers and the agricultural scientists began to be much more aggressive in selecting and breeding crop plants for higher yields. The agricultural research programme, with a heavy involvement of the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, explicitly promised to resolve hunger and poverty in Mexico, and the world, by increasing agricultural production. The modernization of agriculture included two very general goals: more frequent use of the same area of land and increased specialization of productive species.