There’s a new goal post for agriculture: It’s nutrition.

This blog post is the first in a 3-part series accompanying the release of the book Agriculture for Improved Nutrition: Seizing the Momentum, co-edited by Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch (co-published by CABI Publishing and IFPRI). The book will be launched at a Feb. 28 event at IFPRI headquarters in Washington (for more information or to register to attend, click here).

It is the single most important innovation in human history. Over the course of thousands of years, agriculture has staved off hunger, allowed populations to leave their hunter-gatherer lives behind, and freed up time for other pursuits (like inventing writing and the wheel!) that have propelled societies forward. As recently as the 1970s, the Green Revolution, a global push to improve and produce more wheat and rice, brought India back from the brink of mass famine. The Green Revolution improved the lives of 1 billion people around the world. This number is all the more impressive considering that the world population was 4 billion at the time.

Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT