For the 70 percent of the world’s poor in rural areas, agriculture is the major source of income and development. It takes up more than one-third of the world’s area and more than two-thirds of the world’s water withdrawals. Competition for these resources is increasing with growth of population, cities, and demand for food. And climate change is altering the patterns of rainfall and temperature that agriculture depends on. Global environmental changes will have many effects on agricultural productivity, which is already limited by climate factors such as water availability and the length of the growing season. While changes in temperature and precipitation patterns may benefit agriculture in some areas, they may restrict it in others, increasing the risk of hunger and famine particularly in poor areas dependent on isolated agricultural systems, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, tropical areas of Latin America, some Pacific island nations, and South and East Asia. Agriculture sector also causes greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change mitigation in agriculture will require more efficient use of fertilizer, soil conservation and better production management. Population growth in developing countries will put further pressure on agriculture as rising demand for food requires more land and more forests to be turned to agricultural use. At the beginning of the 20th century the earth had about 5 billion hectares of forested area. Now it has about 4 billion hectares. The loss has been concentrated in developing countries, driven by the growing demand for timber and agricultural land, exacerbated by weak monitoring institutions. Data presented here highlights indicators on agricultural input, output, and productivity; rural population and land use.

  • Agricultural irrigated land refers to areas purposely provided with water, includ­ing land irrigated by controlled flooding.  • Agricultural land is the share of land area that is permanent pastures, arable, or under permanent crops. Permanent pasture is land used for five or more years for forage, including natural and culti­vated crops.  • Agricultural machinery refers to wheel and crawler tractors (excluding garden tractors) in use in agriculture at the end of the calendar year specified or during the first quarter of the following year.Agricultural produc­tivity, measured by value added per unit of input, is the ratio of agricultural value added, mea­sured in 2000 U.S. dollars, to the number of workers in agriculture. • Agricultural value added includes that from forestry and fishing. Thus interpretation of land productivity should be made with caution.  • Arable land includes land defined by the FAO as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land aban­doned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded. • Cereal yield, measured in kilograms per hectare of harvested land, includes wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats, rye, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and mixed grains. Production data on cereals refer to crops harvested for dry grain only. Cereal crops harvested for hay or harvested green for food, feed, or silage, and those used for grazing, are excluded. • Crop production index is agricultural production for each period relative to the base period 1999–2001. It includes all crops except fodder crops. The regional and income group aggregates for the FAO’s produc­tion indexes are calculated from the underlying values in international dollars, normalized to the base period 1999–2001. • Employment in Agriculture is employment in agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing. • Fertilizer consumption is the quantity of plant nutrients used per unit of arable land. Fertilizer products cover nitrogen, pot­ash, and phosphate fertilizers (including ground rock phosphate). Traditional nutrients—animal and plant manures—are not included.  • Food production index covers food crops that are considered edible and that contain nutrients. Coffee and tea are excluded because, although edible, they have no nutritive value.  •Forest area is land under natural or planted stands of trees of at least 5 meters in situ, whether productive or not, and excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems (for example, in fruit plantations and agroforestry systems) and trees in urban parks and gardens. • Improved water source is the percentage of the population with reasonable access to an adequate amount of water from an improved source, such as piped water into a dwelling, plot, or yard; public tap or standpipe; tubewell or borehole; protected dug well or spring; and rainwater collection. Unimproved sources include unprotected dug wells or springs, carts with small tank or drum, bottled water, and tanker trucks. Reasonable access is defined as the availability of at least 20 liters a person a day from a source within 1 kilometer of the dwelling. • Land area is a country’s total area, excluding area under inland water bodies and national claims to the con­tinental shelf and to exclusive economic zones. In most cases definitions of inland water bodies includes major rivers and lakes. • Land under cereal production refers to har­vested areas, although some countries report only sown or cultivated area. • Livestock production index includes meat and milk from all sources, dairy products such as cheese, and eggs, honey, raw silk, wool, and hides and skins •  Permanent cropland is land cultivated with crops that occupy the land for long periods and need not be replanted after each harvest, such as cocoa, coffee, and rubber. Land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines is included, but land under trees grown for wood or timber is not. • Rural population is calculated as the difference between the total population and the urban popula­tion. Data on agricultural inputs are from the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural organization (FAO). Data on urban population shares used to estimate rural population are from the United Nations Population Division’s World Urbanization Prospects, and data on total population are World Bank estimates.


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