Agriculture has played a vital role in sustaining and nurturing humankind.
The initially gradual but accelerating growth of dense populations that inhabit the earth today and the development of modern civilization have been made possible by the developments and sophistications in agriculture.
Agriculture has no single or simple origin. As soon as humans began to form permanent settlements, and gave up wandering in search of food, the practice of cultivating of soil and harvesting of crops began. For a long time it was believed that agriculture began at a single center about 9000-7000 B.C. in Mesopotamia (the pre- sent-day Iraq and Syria) when human beings passed from hunting and gathering stage to that of food producing.
Recent dating techniques indicate that the cultivation of crops was carried on in several regions of the world around 7000 B.C. There is considerable evidence that food grains such as wheat, rice, millets and lentils were cultivated in Mesopotamia, China, and India in the 4th millennium 5.C.
Asia has long been a predominantly agricultural continent. It supports more than i half of world’s population on less than one-seventh of earth’s surface. Most Asian nations still adhere to their agricultural heritage, although there has been a growing tendency in the 20th century toward industrialization.
Asia’s contribution to the supply of world’s major food crops, beverages, fruits, nuts, fiber crops, natural rubber, cattle, sheep and fish catch is substantial. Among the grain crops it has a virtual monopoly of rice production over 90 percent of world’s output. It produces one-third of world’s wheat and millets; and one-fifth of maize (corn).
Nearly one-half of world’s cotton and practically all of the jute fibers are grown in the continent. Over 90 percent of world’s natural rubber, three-fourths of palm oil (and copra), two- thirds of ground nuts (peanuts) are grown in Asia.
Nearly one-third of world’s cane- sugar, one-fifth of citrus fruit and over two-fifths of fish catch are also obtained from the continent. Nearly one-fourth of world’s woodcut is obtained from forests in Asia. Despite these substantial productions, agriculture do not contribute significantly to the gross national product of most nations within the continent Japan and the nations surrounding the Persian Gulf are exceptions). But in two of Asia’s largest countries: China and India, two-thirds to three-fourths of the population are engaged in agricultural activities.