Agriculture involves animal husbandry and cultivation of crops. The earliest forms of agriculture such as forest gardening are believed to have developed in the prehistoric times. Scholars have proposed several theories to explain the development of agriculture. For instance, Rafael Pumpley proposed the Oasis Theory that suggests that people moved to oasis after changes in climate led to dry periods. It is in this oasis that people began to domesticate the animals and plants due to the close association. Bryan Hayden, on the other hand, proposed that agriculture developed due to demand for large quantities of food to throw feasts, which was a symbol of influence. Since then, agriculture has undergone significant transformations that have led to increase in agricultural production.
The Incan empire was the largest empire in South America in the 15th and 16th century. It was centered in Peru, but it stretched to include the present day Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Colombia that were connected by a highway system. The Incan people were easy to manage; they had elaborate and effective laws. For instance, those who broke the rules were eliminated and so they did not have prisons. The empire was endowed with natural resources such as fertile agricultural land, labor, and fresh water for fishing, mining fields, and rich deposits of precious metals such as silver, gold, and copper. The empire exploited these resources wisely, and from them, they became immensely wealthy. The subjects maintained the empire by paying tribute (mita) and providing labor for building and irrigation projects. Most studies have shown that agriculture was the main economic activity of the Incan people (Newman 2010). They had committed farmers that adopted the agricultural technologies, which allowed them to grow a diverse range of crops in all regions. The Incan people are said to have domesticated medicinal plants and various types of food than any other community in the world.
Although agriculture contributed to the growth of the economy, it also played a significant role in the fall of the empire in various ways. To begin with, agriculture led to population increase in the Inca Empire, and consequently there was further expansion of the empire. Further expansion of the already vast empire made it more difficult to administer the empire. Some subjects broke away from the empire settled in their own states. The loss of these subjects meant the loss of labor for its elaborate agricultural economy. The revenue collection for the empire reduced since breaking away of these subjects from the empire meant that they could no longer pay taxes used to maintain the empire. The empire also lost some of its productive land and mining fields, which led to the weakening of its economy and its eventual disintegration.
In addition, the increase in population saw the increase in demand for more land to accommodate the surplus population. This demand created conflicts within the empire, which led to the weakening of the empire. In addition, due to population pressure some people were displaced from their land. Population pressure also meant inadequate resources; hence, some people moved to other places in search of resources. These movements reduced the population of the empire and eventually weakening the empire.
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Transformation of agriculture also led to development of trade. This is because surplus food was traded for with other commodities such as clothes, weapons and pots. The Incan people amassed a lot of wealth from the trade. This wealth needed to be protected. Since the empire was vast and the administration could not protect everyone, people started to form their own armies and selected leaders to organize trade and farming activities while the armies protected their wealth. Eventually these sub governments provided the bases for the formation of other empires.
Development of trade led to the development of trade centers, which later on developed into urban centers. These urban centers expanded to occupy more land and replaced agricultural land and natural ecosystems. These centers also altered the ecosystems by reshaping the environment and natural ecosystems. They also affected the climate by increasing average levels of temperature, clouds and precipitation, decreasing the hours of sunshine, winds and temperature. This climatic change reduced agriculture production and led to the depletion of resources hence weakening the empire.
By engaging in agricultural activities, the subjects became wealthy and desired to rule by themselves. Using the wealth they had amassed, the subjects were able to organize standing armies, hire soldiers and buy weapons. They used the armies to fight for their freedom from the Inca Empire. Because of well-equipped soldiers and the hard terrain of the Inca Empire, most of these subjects were able to break away from the empire. This conflicts disrupted peace in the empire and led to disunity such that when the Spaniards invaded the empire, some people fought against their own empire. These internal disputes also weakened its army such that when the empire was attacked it failed because the army was rendered weak.
The effect of traditional practice by the long gone societies on the environment has been a subject of study now and then. This is due to the increased emergence of diseases associated with malnutrition and the environment. The tests are based on the hypothetical situation that changes in diet and parasitism has lead to break out of diseases. Tests were done on the coprolites for the pre-Inca and Inca period to demonstrate the health and dietary effects. According to Sheila et al. (2001), the crowd parasite pinworm arose from indigenous farmers under Inca control. The Fish tapeworm was not there among the pre-Inca coprolites but initially was in the Inca community. This implies that the introduction of farming in Lluta Valley by Inca resulted in adverse nutrition changes. These diseases resulted in many deaths and led to a decrease in population of the empire. The reduction of the population led to the weakening of the empire such that it failed to defeat its invaders since it was already weak.
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Revolution of agriculture extended to the fishing industry. Consequently, it created an enormous demand on fishing grounds leading to immense pressure on the marine reserves. The Incan people began large-scale exploitation of the anchovies, which were exported as fishmeal. They ignored biologist’s warnings, as they were too preoccupied with realizing the maximum yields. This unrestricted fishing led to the collapse of the fishing industry. Due to the difficult terrain of their land, the Incan people used several techniques to expand the available land. One of the techniques was the construction of camellones on the banks of Lake Titicaca. These areas had mounds of land that would store water channeled artificially for irrigation. This technique interfered with the aquatic ecosystem hence, pushing away the aquatic animals. Furthermore, people also cleared the mangrove forests, which provided food and accommodated the marine life. The effects of this destruction of mangroves proved catastrophic to the marine ecosystem. The collapse of this industry weakened economy of the empire and further contributed to its disintegration.
Another factor that was behind the fall of Incas was overexploitation of its forests reserves. With the increase in population and the expansion of agriculture, more land was needed for farming and establishment of settlements. This need led to large-scale deforestation that caused an imbalance in the ecosystem. To start with, the ecosystems were destroyed pushing the wildlife further. Secondly, changes in climate led to prolonged dry seasons because the rate of rainfall fell rapidly. Thirdly, there was a sharp rise in water temperature since the forests that absorbed most of the heat were destroyed. Consequently, the prolonged dry seasons could no longer support productive farming leading to shortage of food.
Finally, the Incans polluted soil and water by adopting the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical-based pesticides. Before this, they used guano, which was produced by marine birds on the islands. They would also bury small fish (sardines) with maize kernels to promote the growth of the maize. Soil pollution reduced its productivity leading to decrease in food crops. Fertilizers replaced manure and to increase their agriculture production however, overuse the fertilizers resulted in soil pollution. Water pollution killed the aquatic organisms hence reducing their numbers. This led to shortage of food, which made people to move to new areas in search of food. Migration of these people led to decline of the population and its eventual disintegration.
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In conclusion, it suffices to say that adoption of evolved agriculture affected the Inca Empire considerably. While it had positive impacts such as, increase in population, expansion of the empire, development of wealth, industrialization, urbanization and accumulation of wealth, agriculture more of negative impacts. Studies have shown that adoption agriculture contributed to the weakening of the empire and its eventual fall. These factors include empowering the subjects, population pressure and the emergence of diseases associated with malnutrition and environmental degradation.