Importance of Agriculture
fundamental basis of the community is agriculture."
states quite clearly in the Bahá'í writings that agriculture is the most
important industry. This basic truth, which is often overlooked, is obvious
because without sufficient food we would starve. Less obvious to those who are
part of an industrial civilisation, is the fact that it is the fundamental basis
of the economics of a country.
industry, agriculture and the general affairs of the country are all intimately
linked together. If one of these suffers an abuse, the detriment affects the
regard must be paid to agriculture.... unquestionably it precedeth the others."
One simple example is the connection
between farming and tourism. Farming practices affect the attractiveness of the
landscape and so encourage or discourage visitors.
economics of farming are balanced and successful, the rest will follow.
and care of the farmer and the horticulturist result in improvement:
grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a
seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree."
of cultivation, the mountain slopes would be jungles and forests without
fruitful trees. The gardens bring forth fruits and flowers in proportion to the
care and tillage bestowed upon them by the gardener."
Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, wrote in
agricultural methods of the ancients suffice in the twentieth century?
Transportation in the former ages was restricted to conveyance by animals. How
would it provide for human needs today? If modes of transportation had not been
transformed, the teeming millions now upon the earth would die of starvation...
How could great cities such as London and New York subsist if dependent upon
ancient means of conveyance?"
methods of agriculture must progress, as with any other science, as knowledge
increases, but the practices must still work in harmony with nature and the
matters moderation is desirable. If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove
a source of evil."
Basis of Good Health
believe that the immediate cause of illness is an imbalance in the component
substances of the body, which allows disease to take hold. Healing is therefore
possible by eating the correct foods in order to redress the balance. It also
follows that the foods need to be pure, healthy and balanced in the first place
so as not to introduce disease or allow it to develop. This means that methods
of agriculture are of crucial importance. Bearing in mind the above quotation on
moderation, farmers departing too far from natural processes are likely to bring
unwanted side-effects. For example, the production of new strains of plants by genetic
modification or by selective breeding, whilst gaining some advantages in the
short term, may lose other qualities or nutritious elements which are more
important in the long run.
causes of concern might be the regular use of chemical fertilisers or
pesticides, feeding of livestock on items which would not naturally form part of
their diet, and the routine use of antibiotics for livestock.
Bahá'ís are not forbidden to eat meat, kindness to animals is given great
is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with
mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to
every living creature."
preclude practices such as battery farming, veal crating and other intensive
methods which cause distress to livestock.
addition, the Bahá'í writings state that:
of the future will be fruits and grains. The time will come when meat will no
longer be eaten" our natural food is that which grows out of the ground. The
people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food."
Bahá'ís expect that agriculture will gradually change to arable farming alone,
using much less land than livestock farming to provide the same amount of
underlying problem with the agricultural economy is the continual change in the
fortunes of farmers, depending on market forces, weather and other factors. To
help cope with this situation, the Bahá'í Writings specify a village fund, known
as the storehouse. This is a model based on a village farming community but the
principles can also be extended to towns and cities:
this problem we must begin with the farmer..... In every village there must be
established a general storehouse which will have a number of revenues...."
Most of the
revenues are based on the use of the land. One is a graduated tax on farmers who
are in profit, another is a percentage of profits from mining or extraction
work. Those who do not work on the land will likewise pay a percentage of their
surplus income. Local trustees will pay out from this storehouse to those in
need, including farmers during the lean years.
essence, this financial storehouse is very different from the present
arrangements. It is a permanent and local system which emphasises the
fundamental importance of a successful agricultural economy.
system will also operate on a regional and national level. Any surplus from the
local storehouse would be sent to a central fund, for use in less fortunate
areas. Likewise the local area would receive help from this central fund if this
as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture."
believe agriculture to be of the first importance. Its effects on the health of
the population, on the environment and on the economics of an area are
immeasurable. As with all human endeavour, it should be pursued with high
ethical values, as a service to humanity. Farmers deserve respect, help and
scientific guidance on the best way to produce healthy food or beneficial cash
crops for market.
foresee a future where the landscape will have changed as far fewer animals are
farmed, the maintenance of a balanced, healthy environment is paramount, the
economics of farming are mastered and the general population enjoys much better
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