What does “agriculture” mean today? Assessing old questions with new evidence.
McArthur, John W. | March 2016
One of global society’s foremost structural changes underway is its rapid aggregate shift from farmbased to city-based economies. More than half of humanity now lives in urban areas, and more than two-thirds of the world’s economies have a majority of their population living in urban settings.1 Much of the gradual movement from rural to urban areas is driven by long-term forces of economic progress. But one corresponding downside is that city-based societies become increasingly disconnected—certainly physically, and likely psychologically—from the practicalities of rural livelihoods, especially agriculture, the crucial economic sector that provides food to fuel humanity. The nature of agriculture is especially important when considering the tantalizingly imminent prospect of eliminating extreme poverty within a generation. The majority of the world’s extremely poor people still live in rural areas, where farming is likely to play a central role in boosting average incomes. Agriculture is similarly important when considering environmental challenges like protecting biodiversity and tackling climate change. For example, agriculture and shifts in land use are responsible for roughly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
CitationMcArthur, John W.. 2016. What does “agriculture” mean today? Assessing old questions with new evidence.. © Brookings India. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/7527.
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