What factors may have influenced foraging peoples to become farmers? What role does population increase play?Chapter 7: "How to Make an Almond" Guns, Germs and Steel

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sedentary agriculture provides a much more stable, predictable source of food than foraging, in which survival is almost always at risk. It is entirely possible that population increase was a factor in the development of agriculture; but more likely that the opposite is true. Hunter/gatherer groups by sheer necessity were forced to keep their numbers small. When the group grew too large, it either broke up, or when all else failed, infanticide was used to limit its size. With sedentary agriculture, this was no longer necessary. It was easier to provide food for a larger group and also to develop specialization of tasks/work. Farming thus provided a more reliable source of food and allowed populations to grow without major problems for the group. The major factor leading to the development of farming then would be the need for a more reliable source of food.