Agriculture and food production

Maat, Harro


New perspectives on the history of agriculture and development challenge images of an agricultural past in which a lack of advanced agricultural inputs and machinery is equated with food shortages and stagnation. Such new perspectives, the introduction section explains, imply that agriculture and food production developed in ways that cut across geographical scales and linear progressions over time. The next section underlines the value of such perspectives by showing that histories of ancient forms of agriculture have immediate relevance for current development issues. The chapter then addresses three starting points for historical exploration, starting with the plantation that, underneath a stable image of wealth accumulation by metropolitan owners, shows a diverse and varied picture of crop cultivation and processing practices. The next starting point is the government, operating in stringent global constellations of power and international markets, within which specific national policies for agriculture and food security emerge. The last starting point is the small farm, showing persistence over time by defying definition and resisting control through diversity and flexibility, numerical dominance, and capacity to survive in remote and marginal conditions.