Edition 9 of March 2010 (
Updated Oct. 2010 and Sept. 2011)


(9-A) ~ Grain and Soybean Data
~ (9-A-a) ~
Global ~ [Aa1]~Grain Consumption Issues, [Aa2]~Land Devoted to Grain, [Aa3]~Grain Production Data, [Aa4]~Grain Production per capita, [Aa5]~Grain Production per Unit Area, [Aa6]~Soybean Data, [Aa7]~Food Stocks, [Aa8]~ Grain-to-Energy Conversion ~
~ (9-A-b) ~
Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Ab1]~Africa, [Ab2]~Canada, [Ab3]~Far East, [Ab4]~Europe, [Ab5]~Central America, [Ab6]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Ab7]~Southeast Asia, [Ab8]~USSR (former), [Ab9]~US, [Ab10]~South America, ~
(9-B) ~
Hunger Statistics, Food Consumption and Rural Landlessness ~
~ (9-B-a) ~
Global ~ [Ba1]~Numbers of Hungry People, [Ba2]~General, [Ba3]~Food Aid (International),
~ (9-B-b) ~
Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Bb1]~Africa, [Bb2]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Bb3]~Far East, [Bb4]~Europe, [Bb5]~Central Asia, [Bb6]~Southeast Asia, [Bb7]~Middle East, [Bb8]~Latin America, [Bb9]~US, ~
(9-C) ~
Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~
~ (9-C-a) ~
Global ~
~ (9-C-b) ~
Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Cb1]~Africa, [Cb2]~China, [Cb3]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Cb4]~Southeast Asia, [Cb5]~Middle East, [Cb6]~Central America, [Cb7]~Soviet Union, [Cb8]~US, ~

NOTE: The notation (su1) means that the data is used in the document analyzing the sustainability of the productivity of the world's food, fiber and water supply systems. (See elsewhere in this website.)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - se9

SECTION (9-A) ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~

Global per-capita grain production has declined slightly since 1985, but it is not because our capacity to produce the grain has declined. Per-capita declines in world cereal production have been overwhelmingly due to reductions in the amount of cereal cropland under production, particularly in the US and Canada ~ both very large net exporters of grain. The world market is flooded with grain, and prices are now so low that it simply does not pay to grow any more of the stuff - at least not in the US, Canada or in some parts of Latin America (such as Argentina). (See FAO http://apps.fao.org/page/collections?subset=agriculture )

As developing nations produce more food on their own, there is less need for us to ship them food aid, and they are less inclined to buy it as well. The result is that we are putting less and less US land in grain production (a 15% decline in grain acreage over the last 40 years) and more and more into Conservation Reserve Programs. Increases in per-acre food production at home and abroad are, literally, saving the land and creating new habitat for wildlife here at home. While grain production has declined in the US, Canada and Argentina (and in the post-collapse Soviet Union), per-capita grain production has continued to increase in developing nations. This is an important point, obscured in most presentations of global grain production data. (See above Reference.)

Most of the land taken out of grain production in the US, Canada, Europe and Argentina, for example, is now growing other crops with higher cash values. (See above Reference.)

Grain yields (actual and potential) from various types of cropland are discussed on p. 104-105 of Ref. (78B3).

Production of selected food crops: cereals, root crops, (meat, milk, fish), (pulses, fruits, melons, vegetables, oils) in 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1983-1988 for all 9 regions of the globe are tabulated in Table 6.1 of Ref. (90W1).

Part [Aa] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Global ~ [Aa1]~Grain Consumption Issues, [Aa2]~Land Devoted to Grain, [Aa3]~Grain Production Data, [Aa4]~Grain Production per capita, [Aa5]~Grain Production per Unit Area, [Aa6]~Soybean Data, [Aa7]~Food Stocks, ~

See Chapter 11, Section (11-F) for a compilation of large databases on cereal fed to livestock as a percentage of total cereal consumption.

Sub-Part [Aa1] ~ Grain and Soybean Data~ Global ~ Grain Consumption issues ~

Globally, grain consumption per capita has declined 12% from its peak in 1984 to 2006 (Earth Policy Organization. (2008). "Why Ethanol Production Will Drive World Food Prices Even Higher in 2008. Table 5. World Grain Consumption and Stocks, 1960-2007. Retrieved February 2009 from Earth Policy Institute http://www.earth-policy.org/ Updates/2008/Update69_data.htm#table5 ).

On a long-term basis, consumption of cereals fell from a peak of 468 gm/ day/ person in 1990-1991 to 412 gm/ day/ person in 2005-06. Consumption of pulses declined from 42 gm/ day/ person to 33 gm ("Is India Falling Into the Malthusian Trap?" Business Line (5/21/08).). Comments: Does this include indirect consumption via livestock in feedlots and CAFOs? Such indirect consumption is increasing rapidly. Direct consumption of cereals tends to be a result of people (especially Indians and Chinese) consuming larger amounts of more expensive foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc.

World grain consumption has risen in each of the last 45 years except for three-1974, 1988, and 1995 - when tight supplies and sharp price hikes lowered consumption (See Figure <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Grain/2006_data.htm#fig3>). Growth in world grain demand, traditionally driven by population growth and rising incomes, is also now being driven by the fast growing demand for grain-based fuel ethanol for cars. (Continued below)

Roughly 60% of the world grain harvest is consumed as food, 36% as feed for livestock, and 3% as fuel. While the use of grain for food and feed grows by roughly 1%/ year, that used for fuel is growing by over 20% per year (06B2).

World cereal production is plotted versus time during the period 1990 to 2005 in Reference (05V1) (FAOSTAT data).

Concerning the issue of future commodity booms, or rather significant upward trends in world commodity prices, the following quotation from the World Bank is telling: "On balance, we do not see compelling reasons why real commodity prices should rise during the early part of the 21st century, while we see reasons why they should continue to decline (00W3). Comments: Around 2004, economic expansion in India and China produced pressures on many commodities - see data in documents by Lester R. Brown. In 2004 the US was a net importer of food, for the first time in some decades.

The fundamental forces that slowed the growth of demand for food in the past - slower population growth everywhere, and achievement of mid-high levels of per-capita consumption in some countries - will continue to operate in the future and contribute to further deceleration in growth of demand for food (03A1).

Raising per-capita beef consumption in China to that in the US would require 49 million additional tons of beef per year. If that came from cattle in feedlots, American style, it would require 343 million tons of grain per year - an amount equal to the entire US grain harvest (data from Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington DC). (This is also in my Globalization Literature Review)

Roughly 1.2 billion tons of the world's grain harvest is consumed directly as food, with most of the remaining 635 million tons (36%) consumed indirectly in livestock, poultry and aquaculture products (4% in India, 25% in China, 65% in the US) (US Dept. of Agriculture, "Production, Supply and Distribution, electronic database, Washington DC (May 2001)).

Efficiencies of Grain Conversion to Meat, etc. by Various Animals (kg/ kg)
Animal- - - - - - |Grain| Grain
- - - - - - - - - |meat | meat (live wt.)
Cattle in feedlots| 7.5 | 7.0
Pigs~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 3.25| 4.0
Chickens~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 2.25| 2.0
Rainbow Trout ~ ~ | 1.5 | 2.0
Cheese~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | - - | 3.0
Eggs~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | - - | 2.6
Reference ~ ~ ~ ~ | 85B4| Ref. 8 of (94B4)

Comments: Data in the Grazing Land Degradation Review says that the ratio of live-weight to beef is about 2, so the data above for cattle seems suspect.

World Grain Reserves (million tonnes) (from a chart in the Wall Street Journal (7/16/98))
Year - -|1994|1995|1996|1997
Reserves| 265| 255| 205| 239

By 2020, global demand for rice, wheat, and maize will increase 40% - almost 1.3%/ year - according to a projection released in August by Mark W. Rosegrant, Claudia Ringler, and Roberta V. Gerpacio of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a CGIAR think tank in Washington DC. Since the early 1980s, global cereals harvests have been rising 1.3%/ year (UNFAO data) - half of what it was in the 1970s. Most of the relative decline is due to economic upheavals in formerly communist nations and reductions in incentives like farm subsidies in other developed countries, which have caused farmers to take land out of cereals production (99M1).

World cereal consumption has more than doubled over the past 30 years (99M2).

Over the past three decades, production of the world's three major cereal crops has increased by 37% for maize (corn), 20% for rice, and 15% for wheat. Prices for these crops have dropped, 43% for maize, 33% for rice, 38% for wheat (00L1).

In 1985, and nearly every year since, grain yields per ha. have grown more slowly than the global population. (In the prior 35 years, yields/ km2 increased by over 2%/ year.) (96G2).

Grain consumption of 160 kg/ year (1 lb./ day/ capita) is the minimum needed for survival. US and USSR grain consumption rates are 800 kg/ capita/ year, but most of this feeds livestock and involves significant inefficiencies relative to direct consumption ((81B3), p. 105).

From 1974-1995, rice production increased in China by 88%; Indonesia's food production increased by 69%, Bangladesh- 100%, India- 117%, UK- 50%. Brazil increased corn production by 63%, China by 213%, US by 118%. (9/30/99 Christian Science Monitor "Welcome to Earth: Population 6 Billion").

Americans consume 910 kg. grain/ year/ capita. Some 93% of this consumption is via animal feed (77B1).

Roughly 40% of world grain production is fed to livestock, poultry or fish (97G1).

Some 37% of the world's grain harvest (630 million tons in 1994) is used to produce livestock and poultry products for human consumption (95B2).

If all grain fed to livestock in the US were consumed directly by people, about 400 million more people could be fed (80P2) - about 5 years worth of population growth.

Cereal grains provide half of the world's protein and calories (Refs. 6, 27 of (80P2)). Comments: Hard to interpret. Is the protein coming from grain-fed livestock?

Ref. (80P2) contains an excellent analysis of feeding vs. not feeding grain to livestock in US agriculture.

Fraction of world's grain used for livestock feed is tabulated vs. time (1960-1993) (Ref. 11 of (94B4)) (about 39%).

World per-capita grain used to feed livestock is tabulated vs. time (1960-1993) (Ref. 1(?) of (94B4)) (about 125 kg/ capita/ year).

Grains make up 80% of the world's food supply (Ref. 44 of (95P1).

Global grain harvest in the early-to-mid-1980s was 1.7 Gt./ year - 2/3 for human consumption, 1/3 for livestock (86V1). (Dry weight = 0.8 x 1.7 = 1.36 Gt./ year) (86V1).

People eat 0.3 Gt./ year (dry weight) of non-grain plant material, so people eat 2/3* 1.7* 0.80 + 0.3 = 1.15 Gt. plant material/ year (86V1). (Dry weight = 80% of wet weight.) Thus (1.15-0.76) = 0.39 Gt./ year of human food harvest from plants appears to be wasted or lost to pests or post-harvest spoilage (86V1).

About 5 billion people with a caloric intake of 2500 kcal/ person/ day translate to a consumption of 0.91 Gt. of organic material/ year (=0.76 Gt./ year of vegetable matter + 0.15 Gt./ year of animal products) (86V1).

In 1987, a monsoon failure in India contributed to an 85-million-ton drop in world (grain??) output. In 1988, drought-reduced harvests in the US, Canada and China reduced world grain output by 76 million tons (Ref. 2 of (88B4)). Comments: Compare these figures to a global grain production of 1450 million tonnes/ year.

Change in World Grain Yields (%/ year) (97B3)
Years -|Total|Rice|Wheat|Corn|Other
1950-60| 2.0 | 1.4| 1.7 | 2.6| - -
1960-70| 2.5 | 2.1| 2.9 | 2.4| 2.3
1970-80| 1.9 | 1.7| 2.1 | 2.7| 0.4
1980-90| 2.2 | 2.4| 2.9 | 1.3| 1.7
1990-95| 0.7*| 1.0| 0.1 | 1.7|-0.8

* 1.1%/ year if the Soviet Union is excluded.

World Grain harvest (96B1): 1.78 Gt. (1990); 1.69 Gt. (1995).

Grain harvest in mid-1980s: 1.7 Gt./ year - 2/3 for direct human consumption; 1/3 for livestock feed. Water content of harvested grain = 20%, so harvest for human direct consumption of grain = 1.7x (2/3) x 0.8 = 0.85 Gt. dry weight (86V1). People also eat 0.3 Gt./ year of non-grain (harvested dry weight) (86V1). Human consumption of plant material = 0.76 Gt./ year, so losses = (0.85+ 0.3-0.76 = 0.39 Gt./ year (86V1).

Cereal Production and Consumption (million tons/ year) (97P2)
Year - - - - - - - -|1993-4|1994-5|1995-6|1996-7|1997-8*
Developing Countries| ~932 | ~931 | 959~ | 1008 | 1003*
Developed Countries | ~797 | ~851 | 769~ | ~868 | ~865*
World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 1729 | 1782 |1728~ | 1877 | 1869*
Developing Countries| 1017 | 1049 |1080~ | 1106 | 1117*
Developed Countries | ~747 | ~752 | 716~ | ~741 | ~750*
World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 1764 | 1801 |1796~ | 1847 | 1867*

* Estimates

Sub-Part [Aa2] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Global ~ Land Devoted to Grain ~

Area Harvested for wheat, corn, and Soybeans in the Western Hemisphere. 1960-2010 Smoothed graph, in units of millions of ha. (USDA Data) (11B2).






















Expanding world population has cut the grain land per person from 0.23 ha in 1950 to 0.10 ha in 2007 (08B6). Comments: Increased use of chemical fertilizer and the green revolution made up for this change.

As many as 55-70 million acres (223,000 to 283,000 km2) of additional arable land may be needed to come on line globally over the next 3-4 years just to sustain current agricultural (food?) stocks, already at very low levels (07B2).

Saudi Arabia plans to halt wheat production by 2016 because of concerns about scarce water resources. The Saudi government has not publicly given details, which comes as global cereal prices surge. Saudi Arabia will begin reducing production annually by 12.5% and will use imports to bridge the gap. The US estimates that Saudi Arabia's wheat imports will reach 3.4 million tons by 2016, which could be in the top 15 largest importers of the cereal. The country at present produces about 2.5 million tons annually. Saudi Arabia became a net exporter of wheat and by 1991 production had reached 3.8 million tons. Demand for water is increasing rapidly as the population has swelled from 7 million in 1974 to about 24 million, with the Saudi government seeking to boost industry. The government has relied on dams to trap seasonal floods, tens of thousands of deep wells and 27 desalination plants ("Water Fears Lead Saudis to End Grain Output" (2/27/08) unknown source).

Worldwide, grain area expanded from 5.9 million km2 (1457 million acres) in 1950 to its historical peak of 7.30 million km2 in 1981. By 2004, it had fallen to 6.70 million km2. Expanding world population cut the grainland area per person in half, from 0.23 ha/ person (0.57 acres) in 1950 to 0.11 ha./ person in 2000. (See data at http://www.earth-policy.org/Books/Out/ch2data_index.htm ) (05B2). Comments: Part of this reduction in area is attributed to increased use of chemical fertilizers.

World Soybean Harvested Area (plot) (1000 km2) (Ref. 55 of (96G2))
Area| 150| 240| 300| 500| 560| 620

Less than 50% of the increase in soybean output since 1981 was yield-driven. The remainder was from increases in harvested area (96G2). (Soybeans are used primarily for livestock feed (40%) and for cooking oil (Ref. 55 of (96G2).) Comments: Huge expansion of soybean cropland in Brazil is a factor. Confusing statement. Is the increase in soybean harvested area at the expense of grain-growing areas or at the expense of virgin lands?

Global grain area (million km2) (97B3)
Year| 1950| 1981| 1993| 1996
Area| 5.87| 7.32| 6.83| 6.96

World Grain Harvest Area (96B1):

7.32 million km2 (1981) (peak); 6.69 million km2 (1995).

Falling grain prices and rising prices for fruits and vegetables may account for some of the contraction in grain-growing area since 1950 (96G2).

World's grain-harvested area is plotted vs. time (1950-1988) in Ref. (89B2): 5.95 million km2 in 1950; 7.25 in 1981; 6.90 in 1988.

Global soybean area (Total global cropland area is about 15 million km2.)
(plotted vs. time (1950-96) in (97B3) (in millions of km2)
Year| 1950| 1960| 1970| 1980| 1990| 1996
Area| 0.15| 0.22| 0.30| 0.50| 0.55| 0.63

Grain-land productivity increased over 2%/ year during 1950-1990, but was 1%/ year during 1990-1995 (97B3). Global grain harvest growth rate was nearly 3%/ year during 1950-1990, but only 1%/ year during 1990-1996 (97B3).

World harvested area of cereals is plotted vs. time (1950-1978) in Ref. (78B2): 6.02 million km2 in 1950; 7.31 in 1978 (a 21% gain vs. 59% gain in world population).

World grain-harvested area (total and per-capita) is tabulated (1950-1992) in Ref. (93B3).

World Grain land Area/ Capita (Ref. 15, Chapter 7 of (94B4) and Grain land Area (in millions of km2) (Ref. 2, Chapter 7 of (94B4))
Year - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1993|Units
Area/capita|0.23|0.21|0.18|0.16|0.13|-?? |ha/ capita
Area ~ ~ ~ |5.95|6.4 |6.7 |7.2 |6.9 |6.8 |million km2

(See breakdown by country (1950 and 1990 only) in Ref. (94B4).
Comments: Global cropland area is around 14.7 million km2.

Grain-land Area (1000 km2) (See a plot in (95B2))
Year - -|1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1994
Japan ~ | 50 | 50 | 35 | 28 | 24 | 24
S. Korea| 19 | 20 | 21 | 17 | 15 | 13
Taiwan~ | ~8 | ~8 | ~8 | ~7 | ~6 | ~5

Sub-Part [Aa3] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Global ~ Grain Production Data ~

In 2010, the world produced 2,180 million tons of grain and consumed 2,240 million tons, (See data at www.earth-policy.org.) To avoid repeating 2010's shortfall and to cover 2011's estimated 40-million-ton growth in demand, 2011's world grain harvest needs to increase by at least 100 million tons (11B3).

Let's review the global numbers. It will take 100 million tons of additional grain just to maintain the current precarious situation and close to 150 million tons to restore some semblance of stability in the world grain market. We can count on a 10-million-ton increase in this year's rice harvest. We are hoping for a 20-million-ton rise with wheat and a 40-million-ton jump in corn. Let us also assume that minor cereals increase by 10 million tons over last year. This would give us a total increase of 80 million tons, not enough to prevent further price rises (11B3).

Grain Production in Selected Countries and the World (2010 and estimates for 2011) in millions of tons (11B3).














































Other Cereals










Source: 2010 from US Dept. of Agriculture; 2011 from Earth Policy Institute.

World grain harvests tripled between 1950 and 2000, but only with increases in irrigation. The US depends on irrigation for a fifth of its grain production; in parts of the grain-producing states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas the water table has fallen more than 30 meters, and thousands of wells have gone dry. In China, 80% of the grain harvest depends on irrigation. The fossil aquifer of the North China Plain maintains half of China's wheat production and a third of China's corn. As a result of the depletion of water, Chinese annual grain production has been in decline since 1998. (Brown, Lester R. "Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization". New York: Norton & Co., 2008).

During the Green Revolution, over a 40-year period, global grain production increased almost threefold, from 631 million tons in 1950 to 1780 million tons in 1990. But in the later stages of that period and beyond, grain production per capita decreased progressively from 356 kg in 1984 to 308 kg in 2000 (04B2). Comments: This is probably due to (1) population growth, (2) the decrease in the marginal productivity of fertilizer, and (3) the decreased availability of undeveloped arable land.

The cropland area dedicated to rice, worldwide, has fallen from 385 million acres (1.56 million km2) in 1999 to less than 380 million acres (1.54 million km2) in 2007 (07B2).

World cereal production is forecast to increase by 4.3% to a record 2 billion tonnes in 2007. About half the increase (41 million tonnes) will come from "coarse grains," mainly maize in North and South America to meet growing demands for ethanol fuel ("Despite bumper grain crop, 33 countries in food crisis: UN," Agence Frances Presse (04/03/07).).

The past half-century has witnessed a tripling in world grain production - from 631 million tons in 1950 to 2,029 million tons in 2004. While 80% of the increase is due to population growth raising demand, the remainder can be attributed to more people eating higher up the food chain (I.e. more grain being fed to livestock.). This has increased per-capita grain consumption by 24%. New grain demand has been met primarily by raising land productivity through higher-yielding crop varieties in conjunction with irrigation, and chemical fertilizer use, rather than by expanding cropland area (05M1).

Index created by the UN FAO showing changes in global commodity production:
Year |1970|1975|1980|1985|1990|1995|2000
Index| 89 | 91 | 93 | 99 | 101| 102| 110

In 2002 record heat and drought combined to shrink harvests in both India and the US. Record and near-record temperatures in key food-producing countries accounted for a large share of the record world grain shortfalls of 91 million tons in 2002 and 105 million tons in 2003 (04B1).

When 2004's grain harvest began in May 2004, world grain stocks were down to 59 days of consumption - the lowest level in 30 years. The last time stocks were this low, in 1972-1974, wheat and rice prices doubled. Now, a generation later, a similar scenario is unfolding, but for different reasons. After nearly tripling from 1950-1996, growth in the world grain harvest came to a halt. In each of the last four years world grain production has fallen short of consumption, forcing a draw-down of stocks. During this period, expanding deserts, falling water tables, crop-withering temperatures, and other environmental trends (e.g. urbanization) have largely offset the positive contributions of advancing technology and additional investment in agriculture (04B1). Comments: The World Bank foresees declining food prices in the 21st century.

On 8/12/02, the USDA released an updated estimate of the world grain harvest for 2002, 1,821 million tons. With world grain consumption in 2002 projected at 1,904 million tons, this lower harvest leaves a shortfall of 83 million tons. This is the third consecutive year in which world grain production has fallen short of consumption. In 2000, the shortfall was 35 million tons; in 2001, it was 31 million tons. Combined, these three annual deficits - totaling 149 million tons - have dropped grain stocks to the lowest level in three decades. At the end of this crop year, world wheat carryover stocks - the amount in the bin as the new harvest begins - are estimated at 23% of annual consumption, the lowest in 28 years. For rice, carryover stocks amounted to 28% of annual consumption, the lowest in 18 years. For corn, the third of the leading cereals, carryover stocks are less than 15% of annual consumption, the lowest in the 40 years since record keeping began. After peaking in 1981 at 732 million hectares, the world grain area has fallen to 660 million hectares. The US retired roughly 10% of its cropland in the late 1980s under a Conservation Reserve Program as farmers were paid to take highly erodible land out of production. China is in the process of planting 10% of its grain land to trees during this decade as it tries to halt advancing deserts (Lester R. Brown, Record World Grain Harvest Shortfall of 83 Million Tons in Prospect http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update16.htm ).

The world currently produces 2 billion tons of grain, which "provide most of humanity's calories annually". This amount will feed 10 billion East Indians, "who eat primarily grains" but only 2.5 billion Americans, who consume grains in the form of livestock and poultry (E. O. Wilson, "The Bottleneck (Part Two)" Part. II: Population Dynamics and Carrying Capacity", Scientific American, (February, 2002)).

Global per-capita grain production reached its all time peak in 1985 at 390 kg/ person/ year. World grain production peaked in 1996 - 2070 million tonnes. http://www.fao.org/ES/giews/english/fo/fo0109/FO01091.htm#P33_2258 Total world grain production since 1997 has been falling 1%/ year, so world per-capita grain production has been falling 2.3%/ year for the last five years. Per-capita grain production for 2000/ 2001 was 302 kg./ person. FAO projects production this season, 2001/ 2002, to be 296 kg./ person - down from the all-time high of 390 kg./ person in 1985. The developed world produced 856 million tonnes of grain for the 2000/01 season and the undeveloped world produced 999 million tonnes, so the developed world produced 4.33 pounds or 1.97 kg./ person/ day. The developing world produced 1.22 pounds. The developed world produced just over 3.5 times as much grain per-capita as did the developing world (Ron Patterson, "World Grain Production" (11/14/01)). Comments: This data reflects the price of grain dropping - not land shortages, etc. (according to FAO).

World grain production (total and per-capita) is tabulated (1950-1992) in (93B3).

Global Grain Production (in millions of tonnes/ year)
(plotted vs. time (1950-1988) and tabulated (1961-1988) in Ref. (88B4))

Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1986|1988|References
Prod.| 650| 820|1096|1447|1682|1521|(88B4)
Prod.| 631| 847|- - |- - |1650|1550|(plot in (89B2))

World Grain-Harvested Area (1950-1996) (in million km2) (from a plot) (96G2)
Area| 5.9| 6.4| 6.7| 7.2| 6.9| 6.9|million km2
Area| .23| .21| .17| .16| .13| .12|ha/ capita

World grain supply projected for 1996 (presumably just before harvest) is 208 million tonnes - the smallest fraction of total use since the 1960s (95K3).

In 1991, world grain production dropped 5% - the largest decline ever recorded (92B1). Global output of wheat, rice, corn and other grains declined 86 million tons. Since 1984 when world grain production/ person peaked at 757 lb., it has fallen nearly 9% (92B1).

World soybean harvest: 18 million tons in1950); 42 million tons in1970; 85 million tons in 1980. ((81B3), p. 107).

Nearly all the 1970-1980 increase in global soybean harvest was fed to livestock (81B3).

Global soybean production increased by +5.1%/ year during 1950-1980, and +2.2%/ year during 1980-1992 (93B1).

Rice production has stagnated in Asia, dropped in Latin America, and increased slowly in Africa. Wheat production has increased everywhere except in Africa. Wheat- and maize production has grown rapidly in Asia and the Middle East (95C2). (CGIAR data).

Global grain production grew at a rate of +2.9%/ year during 1950-1984, and by +0.7%/ year during 1984-1992 (93B1).

US- and China Grain-Production (in millions of tons/ year) from a plot (95B2)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1994
US ~ | 120| 180| 200| 300| 300| 350
China| ~90| 100| 170| 240| 340| 350

Sub-Part [Aa4] ~ Global ~ Grain Production/ Consumption per Capita ~

Globally, grain production per capita has been declining since 1984 (10P1).

Annual world production of grain per capita peaked in 1984 at 342 kg. [Earth Policy] For years production has not met demand, so carryover stocks must fill the gap, now leaving less than two months' supply as a buffer. Rising temperatures and falling water tables are causing havoc in grain harvests everywhere, but the biggest dent is caused by the bio-fuel industry, which is growing at over 20% per year. In 2007, 88 million tons of US corn, a quarter of the entire US harvest, were turned into automotive fuel. Earth Policy Institute. Earth Policy Indicators. (6/15/06). Grain Harvest: http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/indicators/C54/

For the first time since the "green revolution" started, our world is producing less food each year (08S3). Comments: Tonnes or per capita?

World per-capita cereal consumption (all uses) peaked at 334 kg in the mid-1980s (3-year averages) and has declined to 317 kg. (3-year average 1997/99) (03A1).

Cereals grains (80-90% of the world food supply) have increased per-unit area harvest only slightly since 1984, causing a per-capita decline in cereals. (David and Marcia Pimentel, Population Press (4/4/00)) Comments: Much of the per-capita decline in cereal grain production is attributed (FAO et al) to falling food prices.

Per-Capita Grain- and Meat Consumption (1990) (kg./ capita/ year) (95B2)
- - -|Grain|beef|Pork|Poultry|Mutton|Milk|Eggs
US ~ | 800 | 42 | 28 | ~44 ~ | ~ 1~ | 271|16
Italy| 400 | 16 | 20 | ~19 ~ | ~ 1~ | 182|12
China| 300 | ~1 | 21 | ~ 3 ~ | ~ 1~ | ~ 4| 7
India| 200 |- - | .4 | ~.4 ~ | ~.2~ | ~31|13

World Grain Production (kg./ capita) vs. Time (1950-1988) (plot in Ref. (88B4) and (94B4))
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1991|1992|1993
Prod.| 250| 275| 300| 330| 340| 315| 325| 305

World Grain Production (kg./ capita) vs. Time (1950-1989) (plot in Ref. (90B1) and (90B2)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1984|1988|1989
Prod.| 246| 278| 296| 340| 300| 320

Grain area/ capita (ha/ capita) is plotted vs. time (1950-1996) in (97B3). (0.23 in 1950; 0.17 in 1970; 0.13 in 1990).

Recent Global Soy Bean Harvest Data (USDA data, (97B1))
Year - - - -|1992|1993|1994|1995|1996(preliminary)
million tons| 117| 118| 138| 124| 133
kg/ Capita~ | ~22| ~21| ~25| ~22| ~23

Recent Global Grain Harvest Data (USDA data, (97B1)
Year - - - -|1992|1993|1994|1995|1996 (preliminary)
million tons|1786|1711|1759|1703|1841
kg/ Capita~ | 328| 309| 314| 299| 319

Recent Global Grain-Harvested Area data (USDA data, (97B1)) (1996 is preliminary.)
Year- - - -|1992| 1993| 1994| 1995|1996
million km2|6.92| 6.83| 6.84| 6.79|6.96
ha/ Capita |0.13| 0.12| 0.12| 0.12|0.12

Projected annual income growth: East Asia 5.12%, South Asia 5.01%, Southeast Asia 4.44%, N. Africa and West Asia 3.83%, Latin America 3.59%, Sub-Saharan Africa, 3.40%, all developed nations 2.18%. To meet growing demand for grain, the world's farmers must produce 40% more grains in the next 2 decades. (International Food Policy Research Institute report) (Washington Post, 11/27/99).

Per-capita cereal production in Africa: 144 kilos in 1970, 132 kilos by 1997. In that time, it increased 48% in China, 14% in India, 39% in the USA and, on average, 12% worldwide. (10/15/99 ENN Direct) Comments: This may merely be a result of Africa's population growth rate being the highest in the world.

Per-capita cereal production is plotted vs. time (1967-1987) for the world and for Africa on p. 6 of Ref. (90W1).

Grain Consumption/ person in 1990 for Various Countries (in units of kg./ person) (94P1)
Nation|Canada|US |USSR|Aust.|France|Turkey|Mexico|Japan
Cons. | ~974 |860| 843| 503 | ~465 | ~419 | ~309 | 297
Cons. | 292 | 277~ | 186 | ~ ~176 | ~ ~145 | 145 | 100

World Average = 323 kg./ capita.

Sub-Part [Aa5] ~ Global ~ Grain Production per Unit Area ~

Japan's rice yield per acre has not increased for 16 years (11B3).

Area Harvested for Wheat, Corn, and Soybeans in the Western Hemisphere, 1960-2010 (From a smoothed graph) in millions of ha. Source USDA (11B2).





























Rice yields, globally, are increasing very little over time -slightly less than 1%/ year according to the USDA. Over-production has exhausted the soil that once supported the larger crops. Water shortages abound around the world (07B2).

In Central Luzon, Philippines, rice yields (production per unit area of cropland) grew steadily during the 1970s, peaked in the early 1980s, and have dropped steadily ever since. Long-term experiments conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in both Central Luzon and Laguna Province confirms these results. Similar patterns have now been observed for rice-wheat systems in India and Nepal. The causes of this phenomenon have to do with forms of long-term soil degradation that are still poorly understood by scientists. Where yields are not actually declining, the rate of growth is slowing rapidly or leveling off, as has now been documented in China, North Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (00R1). (su1)

World grain-land productivity increased from 1.1 tonnes/ ha in 1950 to 2.4 tonnes/ ha in 2004 (Ref. 31 of (05B3)). Comments: This was a result of increasing use of chemical fertilizers, the "Green Revolution," and growth of large-scale irrigation systems. Both the "Green Revolution" and the growth of large-scale irrigation were made possible by the development of chemical fertilizers.

Gains in World Grain Yield per ha in the period 1950-2000 suggesting saturation effects (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, "Production, Supply and Distribution, electronic database, Washington DC (May 2001)).

1950 1.06 tons/ ha: 1990 2.47 tons/ ha (2.1% annual increase): 2000 2.75 tons/ ha (1.1% annual increase).

Data on saturation of grain yields:
Wheat yields in the US have increased little since 1983.

The theoretical maximum yields for both wheat and rice are probably in the order of 20 tonnes/ ha/ year (99D2). On experimental stations, yields of 17 tonnes/ ha/ year have been reached in subtropical climates and of 10 tonnes/ ha/ year in the tropics (03B3).

Rice and wheat yields/ km2 are plotted against time (1960-1975) for Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, and India in Ref. (76W1).

US maize harvests have risen continuously from 500 tonnes/ km2 in 1967 to 800 tonnes/ km2 in 1997 (USDA data). Yet the highest yields have stayed roughly constant (except in years of flood or drought), at 2000 tonnes/ km2 for irrigated fields. There are hints of similar ceilings for rice and wheat (99M1).

Average maize yields keep going up by 9 tonnes/ km2/ year in the major maize-producing US states, but the investment in maize-breeding research has gone up four-fold (99M1).

Rises in cereal yields per hectare: 2.2%/ year in 1967-1982; 1.5%/ year in 1982-1994 (99M1).

Wheat Yields in 1995 (tonnes/ km2/ year) (97B3)
Nation|UK |FR |Egypt|Mexico|China|Poland|Ukraine|India|US
Yield |770|680| 560 | ~410 | 360 | ~340 | ~270~ | 250 |250

Yield | 230~ | ~ ~ 210 | ~ ~200 | ~ ~ 160 | 140~ | 60

(UK and France have moist climates and long summer days.)
(Egypt and Mexico rely heavily on irrigation.)

Rice yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) in 1995 (97B3)
Nation|Japan|S. Korea|China~ ~ |Taiwan|Indonesia|Viet Nam
Yield | 480 | ~ ~470 |420(350?)| ~410 | ~ ~ 290 | 240

Yield | ~ ~ ~ 190 | 190 | ~ ~180 | 180

Indonesia has shorter summer days than Japan.
Japan and South Korea irrigates 99% of their rice lands.
Bangladesh irrigates 24%.

Corn Yields (in tonnes/ km2/ year) in 1995 (97B3)
Nation| US|China|Argentina|Brazil|S. Africa|Mexico|Nigeria
Yield |790| 490 | ~ ~ 430 | ~250 | ~ ~ 240 | ~220 | 180

No major corn-producing country has a region of deep, well-drained soils and near-ideal growing conditions comparable to the Midwest US.
Mexican corn is typically grown on marginal lands of low rainfall and thin soil (97B3).

Cereal Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) (94B5)
Nation|N. Amer.|Europe|Far East|China|Latin Amer.|Near East
Yield | ~ ~420 | ~420 | ~ ~290 | 420 | ~ ~ ~ 210 | ~ ~ 170
Yield | 100

World Grain Yield (plotted vs. time (1950-1988) in Ref. (88B4) in tonnes/ km2/ year )
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1988
Yield| 100| 130| 160| 200| 210

World Grain Yield vs. Time (1950-1989) (plotted in Refs. (89B2) and (90B2)) (in tonnes/ km2/ year)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1989
Yield| 106| 130| 160| 200| 240

Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) vs. Time (1950-1996) for Japanese-, Chinese- and Indian Rice (plotted in (97B3)) (smoothed)
Year - - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1996
Japanese Rice| 280| 340| 390| 410| 440| 460
Chinese Rice | 150| 170| 230| 300| 400| 430
Indian Rice~ | ~70| 100| 110| 130| 170| 190

China uses high-yield varieties, nearly 100% irrigation, and is the world's highest consumption of fertilizer.

India suffers from lack of irrigation, and has shorter summer days than Japan.

Area planted to wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, rice, millet, sorghum and sugar and production for 31 countries during 1961-1965 and 1973-1976 are tabulated in Ref. (80P3).

Yields/ unit-area of Various Crops (plotted vs. time in Ref. (94B4))
Corn~ ~ | (1866-1993) (US)
Wheat ~ | (1950-1993) (US, UK, China)
Rice~ ~ | (1950-1993) (Japan, China, India)
Grain ~ | (1950-1993) (global)
Soybeans| (1950-1993) (US)

Comments: Saturation is evident in these plots.

Maps of locations of the world's wheat, rice, and corn croplands are in Ref. (76L1).

Sub-Part [Aa6] ~ Global ~ Soybean Data ~
In 1995 China produced and consumed nearly 14 million tons of soybeans. In 2010 it was still producing only 14 million tons - but it consumed nearly 70 million tons, most of it to supplement grain in livestock and poultry rations.  China now imports 80% of its soybeans. For the Western Hemisphere as a whole, there is now more land in soybeans than in either wheat or corn. The US, Brazil, and Argentina - the big three soybean producers -now account for more than 80% of the world harvest and nearly 90% of soybean exports. Nearly 60% of world soybean exports go to China (

Share of World Soybean Exports Going to China (USDA data) from a smoothed graph (11B2). 

















In 1995 China produced and consumed nearly 14 million tons of soybeans. In 2010 China was still producing only 14 million tons-but it consumed nearly 70 million tons, most of it to supplement grain in livestock and poultry rations.  China now imports 80% of its soybeans. (See data.) China's decision to import vast quantities of soybeans led to a restructuring of agriculture in the western hemisphere, the only region that could respond to such a massive demand. The US now has more land in soybeans than in wheat. Brazil has more land in soybeans than in all grains combined. Argentina, with twice as much land in soybeans as in grain, is fast becoming a soybean monoculture. For the hemisphere as a whole, there is now more land in soybeans than in either wheat or corn (11B2).

The US, Brazil, and Argentina - the big three soybean producers - now account for more than 80% of the world's soybean harvest (in 2010) and nearly 90% of soybean exports (in 2010). Nearly 60% of world soybean exports go to China (in 2010) (11B2).

World soybean production has quadrupled since 1977 (Lester R. Brown, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Earth Policy Institute. (2009)) Complete data sets are available on-line at www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/data.htm. ).

Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more US cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, the soybean is invading the Amazon rainforest. Then during the 1950s, as Europe and Japan recovered from the war and as economic growth gathered momentum in the US, the demand for meat, milk, and eggs climbed. But with little new grassland to support the expanding beef and dairy herds, farmers turned to grain to produce more beef and milk, pork, poultry, and eggs. World consumption of meat at 44 million tons in 1950 had already started the climb that would take it to 280 million tons in 2009. This rise was partly dependent on the discovery by animal nutritionists that combining one part soybean meal with four parts grain would dramatically boost the efficiency with which livestock and poultry converted grain into animal protein. This generated a fast-growing market for soybeans from the mid-twentieth century onward. It was the soybean's ticket to agricultural prominence, enabling soybeans to join wheat, rice, and corn as one of the world's leading crops. US production of the soybean exploded after World War II. By 1960 it was close to triple that in China. By 1970 the US was producing 75% of the world's soybeans and accounting for virtually all exports. By 1995 the fast expanding US land area planted to soybeans had eclipsed that in wheat (09B5). (Continued)

When world grain and soybean prices climbed in the mid-1970s, the US - in an effort to curb domestic food price inflation - embargoed soybean exports. Japan, then the world's leading importer, was soon looking for another supplier. And Brazil was looking for new crops to export. In 2009, the area in Brazil planted to soybeans exceeded that in all grains combined. Today more than twice as much land in Argentina produces soybeans as produces grain. Together, the US, Brazil, and Argentina produce 80% of the world's soybean crop (09B5). (Continued)

During the 1980s and 1990s, Japan was the leading soybean importer, at nearly 5 million tons per year. As recently as 1995, China was essentially self-sufficient in soybeans, producing and consuming roughly 13 million tons of soybeans/ year. Then rising incomes enabled many of China's 1.3 billion people to move up the food chain, consuming more meat, milk, eggs, and farmed fish. Today half of all soybean exports go to China. Soybean meal mixed with grain for animal feed made it possible for Chinese meat consumption to grow to double that in the US (09B5). (Continued) Comments: Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers is reducing cropland productivity in parts of southern China - and in much of India where nitrogen fertilizers are heavily subsidized.

Since 1950 the world soybean harvest has climbed from 17 to 250 million tons. Soybeans are the second-ranking U.S. crop after corn, and they dominate agriculture in both Brazil and Argentina. Some 10% of soybeans is consumed directly as food - tofu, meat substitutes, soy sauce, and other products. Nearly 20% is extracted as oil, making it a leading table oil. The remainder, roughly 70% of the harvest, ends up as soybean meal that is consumed by livestock and poultry. Satisfying the global demand for soybeans, which is growing at nearly 6 million tons per year, poses a challenge. The soybean is a legume, and fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which means soybeans are is not as fertilizer-responsive as, say, corn, which has a ravenous appetite for nitrogen. But because the soy plant uses a substantial fraction of its metabolic energy to fix nitrogen, it has less energy to devote to producing seed. This makes raising yields more difficult (09B5). (Continued)

Since 1950, U.S. corn yields (per acre?) quadrupled, while those of soybeans have barely doubled. Although the U.S. area in corn has remained essentially unchanged since 1950, the area in soybeans has expanded fivefold. Farmers get more soybeans largely by planting more soybeans. Herein lies the dilemma: how to satisfy the continually expanding demand for soybeans without clearing so much of the Amazon rainforest that it dries out and becomes vulnerable to fire. The Amazon is being cleared both by soybean growers and by ranchers, who are expanding Brazil's national herd of beef cattle. Brazil has discussed reducing deforestation 80% by 2020 as part of its contribution to lowering global carbon emissions. Unfortunately, if soybean consumption continues to climb, the economic pressures to clear more land could make this difficult. Although the deforestation is occurring within Brazil, worldwide growth in demand for meat, milk, and eggs drives it (09B5).

Area Harvested for Wheat and Soybeans in the US (1950-2009) (In millions of ha.) From a smoothed graph. Source: EPI from USDA. (09B5) (Continued)

























Soybean Production in the US, Brazil and Argentina, 1985-2009 (in millions of tons/ year) (From a smoothed graph) Source: EPI from USDA (09B5) (Continued)





























Soybean Imports and Consumption in China (1964-2009) in millions of tons/ year (From a smoothed graph) (Source: EPI from USDA) (09B5) (Continued)






















Aquaculture is growing at a rate of 9-11%/ year globally, and is expected to consume an estimated 8.8-11 million tons of soybean meal during the next decade. ("Soy Meal Picks Up Aquaculture Market," Farm Futures (2/22/07).).

While soybean production was increasing 13- fold over the last half-century, soybean yields have almost tripled, which means that the area in soybeans has increased 4-fold. In contrast to grains, where the growth in output has come largely from raising yields, growth in the harvest of soybean has come more from area expansion. As a result, in a world with limited cropland resources, the soybean has been expanding partly at the expense of grain. This expansion so greatly increases the efficiency of grain used for livestock feed that it reduces the cropland area used to produce feed grains and soybeans together (05B1).

After the collapse in 1972 of the Peruvian anchovy fishery -which accounted for 20% of the world fish catch and supplied much of the protein meal used in livestock and poultry foods at that time - some countries in Latin America started to produce soybeans. As of 2004, soybean production exceeds that of all grains combined in Brazil and Argentina (05B1).

US soybeans are grown mostly in the Corn Belt, often in rotation with corn. The soybean, a nitrogen-fixing legume, and corn, which has a ravenous appetite for nitrogen, fit together nicely on the same piece of land in alternate years (05B1).

By 1978, the area planted to soybeans in the US had eclipsed that planted to wheat. In some recent years, the US harvested area of soybeans has exceeded that of corn, making it the most widely planted crop in the US (05B1).

The soybean was domesticated in central China 5,000 years ago and made its way to the US in 1804. After World War II, soybean production exploded as the consumption of livestock and poultry products climbed in North America and Europe (05B1).

As world grain production tripled from 1950 to 2004, soybean production expanded 13-fold. The growth in this protein source, most of it consumed indirectly in various animal products, is a surrogate for rising affluence, one that measures movement up the food chain (05B1).

In 2004, the world produced 223 million tons of soybeans, 1 ton for every 9 tons of grain produced. Of this, 15 million tons were consumed as tofu or meat substitutes. The remaining 208 million tons were crushed to extract 33 million tons of soybean oil, separating it from the more highly valued meal. Soybean oil dominates the world vegetable oil economy, supplying much of the oil used for cooking and to dress salads. Soybean oil production exceeds that of all other table oils combined - olive, safflower, canola, sunflower, and palm oil (05B1).

Most of the world's fast-growing soybean harvest is consumed indirectly in the beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and farmed fish. The incorporation of soybean meal into feed rations has revolutionized the world feed industry, greatly increasing the efficiency with which grain is converted into animal protein (05B1). The 143 million tons of soybean meal that remains after the oil is extracted is fed to cattle, pigs, chicken, and fish, enriching their diets with high-quality protein. Combining soybean meal with grain, in roughly one part meal to four parts grain, dramatically boosts the efficiency with which grain is converted into animal protein, sometimes nearly doubling it (05B1). The world's three largest meat producers - China, the US, and Brazil - now all rely heavily on soybean meal as a protein supplement in feed rations. The US has long used soybean meal to upgrade livestock and poultry feed. As early as 1964, 8% of feed rations for livestock consisted of soybean meal. Over most of the last decade, the soybean meal content of US livestock feeds has been 17-19% (05B1). For Brazil, the shift to soybean meal as a protein supplement began in the late 1980s. From 1986-97, the soy meal share of animal feed rations jumped from 2% to 21%. In China, the realization that feed use efficiency could be dramatically boosted with soy meal was translated into reality between 1991 and 2002, the soy meal component of feed jumped from 2% to 20%. For fish, whose protein demands are particularly high, China incorporated some 5 million tons of soy meal into the 16 million tons of grain-based fish feed used in 2003 (05B1).

Sub-Part [Aa7] ~ Global ~ Food Stocks ~
Globally, stocks of rice (responsible for 20% of the world's caloric intake) are now (2007) at their lowest levels since the 1970s when food shortages led to temporary famines in Asia (

On 5/11/07, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its first projections of world grain supply and demand for the coming crop year 2007/2008. The USDA predicts supplies will plunge to a 53-day equivalent, their lowest level in the 47-year period for which data exists. The USDA projects global grain supplies will drop to their lowest levels on record. Further, it is likely that, outside of wartime, global grain supplies have not been this low in a century, perhaps longer. Most important, 2007/08 will mark the seventh year out of the past 8 in which global grain production has fallen short of demand. This consistent shortfall has cut supplies from a 115-day supply in 1999/2000 to the current level of 53 days. The world is consistently failing to produce as much grain as it uses. The current low supply levels are not the result of a transient weather event or an isolated production problem: low supplies are the result of a persistent draw-down trend (07Q1). Note that as a result of a year of bad weather (1972) grain prices in 1972-1974 roughly tripled. Global grain reserves at the start of 1972 were significantly higher than they are today. This is apparently the basis of the statement often heard these days that the world is just one bad crop year away from a massive global-scale disaster (su1). (in Food-Pop-Link.doc and food.html on this website)

World stockpiles of dairy products (cheese, butter, skim-milk powder, whole milk powder) dropped from around 3 million tonnes in the mid-1990s to around 0.9 million tonnes in 2008 (08B2). (Food-Pop-Link and food.html on this website)

Investors, because of the small farm structure, who want to invest in enhancing food outputs, find limited avenues to do so. The result is a world food-production system operating close to capacity. World grain stockpiles are at their lowest levels in decades. Capital is not the only limit on increasing food supplies in response to rising prices. So are water, soil quality, roads, storage- and trade restrictions (08B2).

A rice shortfall of 10% is expected for 2008, causing fears that food riots could erupt as they have in Haiti, Egypt, Mexico, Burkina Faso, and Senegal (08U1).

The collapse of Australia's rice production due to prolonged drought decreased global rice stocks in 2007 (08U1). Comments: Australia's typically ancient, low fertility soils also suffer from salinization and erosion problems. A recent study suggests that Australia's growing agricultural problems, coupled with its high rates of population growth, could change Australia from being a major exporter of grain to a net importer over the next few decades. Other problems loom. The prolonged, serious drought Australia has been experiencing over the past decade or more is believed, by some experts, to reflect problems related to global warming and therefore be more of a long-term trend than a cyclical phenomenon.

Food riots are becoming commonplace.
In Egypt, bread lines at bakeries that distribute state-subsidized bread are often the scene of fights.
In Morocco, 34 food rioters were jailed.
In Yemen, food riots have turned deadly, taking at least a dozen lives so far.
In Cameroon, dozens of people have died in food riots and hundreds have been arrested.
Other countries with food riots include Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Senegal.
Russia, the Ukraine, and Argentina are among the governments that are currently restricting wheat exports.
Countries restricting rice exports include Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Egypt (

Today, humans, their livestock, and pets together accounts for 98% of the earth's total vertebrate biomass, vs. less than 0.1% when agriculture began (08B5).

*One fifth of the U.S. grain harvest is being turned into fuel ethanol (08B3).

During 7 of the last 8 years, grain consumption exceeded production. After 7 years of drawing down stocks, world grain carryover stocks in 2008 have fallen to 55 days of world consumption, the lowest on record. With grain stocks at an all-time low, the world is only one poor harvest away from total chaos in world grain markets (08B4).

The 2006 world grain harvest is projected to fall short of consumption by 61 million tons, marking the sixth time in the last 7 years that production has failed to satisfy demand. As a result of these shortfalls, world carryover stocks at the end of this crop year are projected to drop to 57 days of consumption, the shortest buffer since the 56-day-low in 1972 that triggered a doubling of grain prices. (Continued below)

World carryover stocks of grain, the amount in the bin when the next harvest begins, are the most basic measure of food security. Whenever stocks drop below 60 days worth of consumption, prices begin to rise. It thus came as no surprise when the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) projected in its 6/9/06 world crop report that this year's wheat prices will be up by 14% and corn prices up by 22% over 2005. (Continued below)

The 2006 world grain harvest of 1984 million tons, estimated by the USDA in its June crop report, is down 24 million tons from 2005, or roughly 1%. It is down 3% from the historical high of 2,044 million tons produced in 2004. (06B2)

Year Ending Major World Food Stocks. (in thousands of metric tonnes)
Year - - - | ~2001 | ~2002 | ~2003 | ~2004 | 2005
World Rice |150,522|139,425|110,266| 85,502| 71,811
World Wheat|206,519|202,065|167,581|130,907|145,295
World Corn |171,502|148,049|122,470| 97,382|114,963

Source: Grain and Feed Division, Commodity and Marketing Programs, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, Washington DC 20250 (Jan.13, 2005). See < http://www.fas.usda.gov/psd/intro.asp?circ_id=1 >.

Sub-Part [Aa8] ~ Grain-to-Energy Conversion ~

Roughly 120 million tons of the 400-million-ton 2010 US grain harvest are going to ethanol distilleries (11B1). Comments: Ethanol distilleries are heavily subsidizes and the net energy production is probably negative.

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PART [Ab] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Ab1]~Africa, [Ab2]~Canada, [Ab3]~Far East , [Ab4]~Europe, [Ab5]~Central America, [Ab6]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Ab7]~Southeast Asia, [Ab8]~USSR (former), [Ab9]~US, [Ab10]~South America, ~

Sub-Part [Ab1] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Africa ~
Only 4% of Africa's arable land is used for rice cultivation (
95L4). African nitrous oxide emissions are also likely to be relatively low, given the low average level of fertilizer use (4.2 kg./ ha vs. 36 kg. ha in the tropics as a whole (95L4)).

Crop yields hover around 1 tonne/ km2 in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 6-7 tons per km2 common in rain-fed systems in the US and Europe (04M2). Comments: Sub-Saharan Africa uses very little chemical fertilizer because it is so expensive ~ about 60 times more on the basis of hours of labor to purchase a ton of chemical fertilizer - in large part due to inadequate transportation infrastructure. As a result, African farmers are unsustainably mining the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium from their cropland soils. Animal dung is commonly used as fuel for cooking (a substitute for the oil that Africans cannot afford) so it cannot be used as fertilizer either. (su1)

African grain production (in kg./ capita/ year) is plotted vs. time (1950-1987) in Ref. (88B1) (160 in 1950, 140 in 1987).

In 1984, 140 million Africans were fed with imported grain (out of a total population of 531 million) (85B1).

Africa's farm yield for important cereals: 130 tonnes/ km2, vs. 480 in China, 220 in India, 570 in US, and 300 worldwide (10/15/99 ENN Direct). Comments: Africa uses very little fertilizer due to infrastructure problems making shipping costs very high.

Per-capita grain production peaked in Africa in 1967, and has been declining 1%/ year ever since. The decline is largely attributable to (85B1):

Zaire's rice yields: 25% of Sri Lanka's, 10% of Japan's (88L1).
Niger's sorghum yields: under 30 tonnes/ km2 (vs. 400 tonnes/ km2 in US).
Sudan's maize yields: 80 tonnes/ km2 (vs. 750 tonnes/ km2 in the US) (88L1).

Madagascar's Rice Production (lb./ year/ capita) (USDA data) (89U4)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1987
Prod.| 290| 330| 430| 350| 330

(450 in the peak year of 1967)

Sub-Part [Ab2] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Canada ~
Spring wheat seeding expected to total 127,000 km2 in 1992, up 4% from 1991. Canadian farmland left fallow (uncultivated) is expected to decline 3% in 1992 to 78,400 km2 - lowest in 52 years (92U1).

Canada planted 32.6 million acres to wheat in 1996 (up 16%). This will require millions of acres of fallow land to be cultivated. (Wall Street Journal, 5/1/96).

Sub-Part [Ab3] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Far East ~

[Ab3a] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Far East ~ China ~
From 2002 to 2004, China went from being essentially self-sufficient in wheat to being the world's largest importer of wheat. China's wheat harvest peaked at 123 million tons in 1997 and fell to 90 million tons in 2004 (
05B3). Comments: The reduction since 1997 was probably due to the conversion of croplands to urban lands and possibly to the conversion of aquaculture (fish ponds) or to the spread of deserts. (su1)

China's grain harvests quadrupled between 1950-1998 (03U1).

Grain production/ capita in China is plotted vs. time (1950-1987) in Ref. (88B1) (160 kg in 1950; 290 in 1987). China's grain area peaked in 1976. Production per capita peaked in 1988.

In 1988, China imported 5% of its grain (15 million tons). Grain-growing area is down 9% since 1976 (89B2).

China's Grain output (million tons) (plotted vs. time in Ref. (90B2))
Year~ |1950|1960|1970|1980|1983|1989
Output| 100| 100| 170| 240| 300| 305

In China, between 1978 (when economic reforms were adopted) and 1997, grain used to feed livestock, poultry and fish increased from under 20 million tons to over 100 million tons (See plot vs. time (1960-1997)) (97B3).

China's grain output: 465 million tonnes in 1995 (445 in 1994) (Wall Street Journal (3/4/96)).

China's 1989 milled-rice yield was 340 tonnes/ km2 - same as Japan's in 1970 (89B5).

China's 1994 grain crop: 444 million tons, a 2.5% drop ((95K2) and Wall Street Journal, 4/7/95). (Soybeans and potatoes are counted as "grain" by the Chinese.) Increasing China's beer consumption by 1 bottle/ adult/ week would require 19.2 million tons of grain/ year (94B3).

China used 7% of its grain as animal-feed in 1978 (20% in 1990) (94B3). China uses 15% of its grain crop as animal feed (95K2). As Chinese adapt to the diet of their East Asian neighbors, China will need to devote 33-40% of its grain harvest to animal feed in 5 years (95K2).

China's grain stock (in storage) 40 million tonnes (10/93); 26 million tonnes (12/31/94) (Ref. 27 of Chapter 7 of (95B2)).

China's grain production: 200 million tons in 1977 (300 million tons in 1984) (94B3).

China's grain production/ capita: 200 kg. (1978); 300 in 1984 (95B2).

China's Rice Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) from a plot (95B2)
Year |1950|1970|1990
Yield| 150| 240| 400

China's Wheat Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) from a plot (95B2)
Year |1950|1970|1980|1990
Yield| 120| 110| 200| 300

China Grain Yield/Unit Area - Saturation Effect (USDA data, (97B2))
Year - - - - - |1950|1977|1984|1995
Yield, tons/km2| 104| 211| 341| 406
Change, %/ year| - -|+2.7|+7.1|+1.6

Grain used to Feed Livestock in China (million tonnes/ year) (95B2)
Year |1960|1970|1980|1990|1994
Feed | ~8 | 15 | 30 | 62 | 80

Grainland/ 1000-people in China (km2) (95B2)
Year|1950|1970|1990| 2010 |2030
Area| 1.5| 1.1| 0.8| (0.5)|(0.3)

(Japan in 1950 had 0.8 km2/ 1000 people.)

Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) vs. Time (1950-1996) for French- , Chinese-, and US Wheat (plotted in Ref. (97B3)) (smoothed data)
Year - - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1996
French Wheat | 180| 260| 380| 500| 640| 700
Chinese Wheat| ~80| ~80| 110| 200| 320| 370

Grain Production (kg./ capita) (plotted in (95B2))
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1994
India| 115| 150| 165| 165| 185| 190
China| 160| 140| 200| 240| 290| 290

Rice Yields (tons/ km2/ year) (USDA data) (94B3)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990
Japan| 350| 420| 470| 409| 540
China| 190| 210| 280| 360| 470

Wheat Yields (tons/ km2/ year) (USDA data) (94B3)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990
US ~ | 110| 160| 200| 230| 250
China| ~70| ~80| 110| 200| 310

Grain- and Livestock-products Consumption (1990) (kg./ capita/ year) (94B3)
Product|Grain|beef|pork|poultry|milk etc.|eggs
US ~ ~ | 800 | 42 | 28 | ~44 ~ | 271 ~ ~ |16
China~ | 300 | ~1 | 21 | ~ 3 ~ | ~ 4 ~ ~ | 7

(From FAO Production Yearbook, 1990) (Rome, 1991).

[Ab3b] ~ Far East ~ Japan ~
Grain production in Japan peaked between 1967-1978 and declined 25% since then (89B2).

Imports accounted for 71% of Japan's 1987 grain consumption (89B2).

Japan's Rice Yields (in units of tonnes/ km2/ year) from a plot (95B2)
Year |1950|1970|1990
Yield| 290| 400| 450

(Japan supports rice prices at 6 times the world market level (Ref. 6 of (95B2)).)

Japanese Rice Yields (in units of tonnes/ km2/ year) vs. Time (1870-1996) (plotted in Ref. (97B3))
Rice| 180| 220| 260| 300| 390| 450

Grainland Area (1000 km2) (Japan + South Korea + Taiwan) (Ref. 11 of Chapter 7, (94B4))
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990|1993
Area | 78 | 77 | 65 | 50 | 45 | 42

Grain Consumption and Production (Japan+ South Korea+ Taiwan)
(USDA data) (94B3) (in millions of tons/ year)
Year - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990
Consumption| 20 | 28 | 40 | 53 | 62
Production | 18 | 22 | 21 | 19 | 18

Japan's Grain Production (in million tonnes/ year) from a plot (95B2)
Year - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990
Consumption| 16 | 20 | 26 | 36 | 38
Production | 12 | 15 | 11 | 10 | 10
Import ~ ~ | ~4 | ~5 | 15 | 26 | 28

[Ab3c] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Far East ~ South Korea ~
Grain production in South Korea peaked between 1967-1978 and declined 17% since then. Some 59% of South Korea's 1987 grain consumption was imported (89B2).

[Ab3d] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Far East ~ Taiwan ~
Grain production in Taiwan peaked between 1967-1978, and has declined 20% since then. Some 72% of Taiwan's 1987 grain consumption was imported (89B2).

[Ab3e] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Far East ~ North Korea ~
Famine and economic collapse cut life expectancy of North Koreans by 6+ years in the 1990's (

Key points from "Starvation Lingers in Impoverished North Korea", (Agence France Presse (2/18/03))

Sub-Part [Ab4] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Europe ~

Grain Production and Consumption in the European Community (millions of tonnes/ year) from a plot in Ref. (95B2)
Year - - - |1960|1965|1970|1975|1980|1985|1990|1994
Production | ~90| 100| 110| 125| 150| 170| 170| 165
Consumption| 110| 126| 140| 150| 160| 150| 140| 150

Sub-Part [Ab5] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Central America ~
Cereal production/ capita in Haiti declined 30% during 1965-1983 (Ref. 9 of (90P2)).

At the start of the Green Revolution, grain harvest in Mexico increased 4-fold during 1950-1984. Production has stagnated, largely because grain area dropped 10% during the 1980s (89B2).

Mexico's corn output was 3.5 million tons in a good year in the late 1940s; 9.0 million in 1968 (76W2).

About 50% of Mexico's cultivated land is in corn -mostly rain-fed (76W2).

Mexico Crop Yield Statistics (1000 tons/ year) (76W2)
Year |Beans|Sorghum|Soy Beans
1950 | 530 | ~ 200 | ~0
1970 | 925 | ~2700 |275

Ref. (76W2) has plots of production and area planted vs. time (1960-1975). Area planted during 1964-1975 is roughly constant at 1.3 times 1960 levels. Corn and wheat production and areas harvested are plotted vs. time (1940-1975) (76W2).

Sub-Part [Ab6] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~
China is the world's leading producer of wheat. India is number two. The U.S. is third. Most wheat grown in China and India is irrigated. Two thirds of China's glaciers could be gone by 2050 (

[Ab6a] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ India ~
India's food grain output is estimated at 208.3 million tons in the crop year to (ending in?) June of 2006. India is importing wheat (first time in 6 years), pulses (peas, beans, etc.) and edible oil for domestic demand (
06M1). India's grain output has been stagnant for the past 12 years as both population and per-capita consumption increase (06M1).

A map of (India's?) major food-grain production areas is on p. 156 of (76M2). Roles of irrigation, fertilizers, and the Green Revolution are discussed and plotted (76M2).

Depletion of aquifers threatens India with a 25% decline in grain production at a time when over 50% of India's children are malnourished, and India's population is projected to increase by 500 million over the next 5 decades. (Ref. 31, 32 of J. Joseph Speidel, "Environment and Health: 1. Population, Consumption and Human Health" Canadian Medical Association Journal, 163(5) (9/5/00) pp. 551-6). Comments: India produces a surplus of grain, but much of it sits and rots since consumption subsidies have dropped while production subsidies increase.

A rainfall-patterns map for India is given on p. 158 of Ref. (76M2).

During 1949-1973, non-irrigated croplands increased from 810,000 to 920,000 km2 (76M2); irrigated land increased from 180,000 to 310,000 km2; area in high-yielding varieties increased from 0 (1965) to 100,000 km2 (1972).

Inorganic (chemical) fertilizer consumption increased from 0.1 million tons (1949) to 1.9 million tons (1974) (76M2).

Production and yields of wheat, rice and other grains are plotted vs. time (1949-1974) in Ref. (76M2).

Grain production is plotted vs. time (1950-1987) in Ref. (88B1) (120 kg./ capita/ year in 1950; 140 in 1987).

India more than tripled its wheat harvest between 1965 (the start of the Green Revolution) and 1983. Since then, grain production has been constant (Ref. 10 of (89B2)).

India's grain land: 1.07 million km2 (1982) (peak); 1.02 in 1993 (Ref. 12, Chapter 7 of (94B4)).

Sub-Part [Ab7] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ Southeast Asia ~
Indonesia doubled its grain harvest (almost all rice) during 1970-1984, but output has since leveled off (89B2).

Rice yields in Vietnam are under 50% those of China (96M1).

Sub-Part [Ab8] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ USSR (Former) ~
Soviet wheat yields during 1985-88 averaged 170 tonnes/ km2, vs. 180 tonnes/ km2 in Canada where croplands are newer and less eroded (90B2).

Grain output in the Soviet Union is plotted vs. time (1950-1989) on p.72 of Ref. (90B2) (USDA data). Output: 90 million tons in 1950; 120 in 1960; 180 in 1970; 190 in 1980; 200 in 1989 (90B2).

Soviet Union grain harvest area: 1.23 million km2 in 1977 (peak) (0.99 million km2 in 1993) (94B4).

Soviet Union grain area (million km2): 1.23 (1977-peak); 0.89 (1996) (97B3).

[Ab8a] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ USSR ~ Kazakhstan ~
Kazakhstan's grain area (million km2): 0.25 (mid-1980s); 0.186 (1995); 0.13 (projected) (97B3).

[Ab8b] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ USSR ~ Russia ~
Russia's predicted grain harvest for 1995: 66 million tons (80 million in 1994). In 1972, Russian buyers secretly purchased over 11 million tons of US grain, virtually the entire American surplus, and sent US prices soaring (Michael Specter, New York Times ~ See Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 10/10/95).

Sub-Part [Ab9] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ United States ~

About 30% of the 2008 US grain harvest will go to ethanol distilleries (07H1).

US Grain Yield/ Unit Area - Saturation Effect (USDA data, (97B2)) (96B1)
Year- - - - - - - |1950|1960|1970|1980|1990
Yield,- -tons/ km2| 165| 240| 343| 413| 456
Change, %/ decade | - -| +45| +43| +20| +10

US Wheat Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) (plotted (1870-1996) in Ref. (97B3))
Year |1890|1910|1930|1950|1970|1990
Wheat| 90 | 100| 90 | 110| 190| 250

US Wheat Yields (tonnes/ km2/ year) (from a plot) (95B2)
Year |1950|1970|1980|1990
Yield| 110| 200| 230| 250

US Corn Yield (1950-88) (plotted in Ref. (88B4)) (in units of tonnes/ km2/ year)
Year |1950|1960|1970|1980|1988
Yield| 240| 320| 520| 700| 750

Corn yield (tons/ km2/ year) plotted vs. time (1950-1988) on p. 16 of Ref. (89B1): 220 in 1950; 740 in 1987; 490 in 1988. Comments: This appears to be US data.

1977 US Crop Areas (millions of acres) (80U2)
corn | 83.6|Hay ~ ~ | 60.6|Barley|10.6|Comm. Vegetab.|3.2
Oats | 17.7|Sorghum | 17.0|Cotton|13.7|Fruits/ Nuts~ |3.4
wheat| 75.1|Soybeans| 58.8

Even if the US returned to production the 28 million acres idled in 1991 under commodity-supply-management programs, and the 34 million acres of highly erodible croplands now in the Conservation Reserve, the World's grain area would still not equal that of the early 1980s (92B1).

Grain use/ capita (US): 2200 lb./ year (130 lb./ year is used directly; the rest is fed primarily to livestock ((76P2), Ref. 95).

Bringing all US- and European grain land back into production from its reserve status would expand world grain area by 1.6% (Ref. 6 of Chapter 7, (94B4)).

U.S. Grain Reserves (billion bushels just before harvest) (95K3)
Year - - - -|1971|1973|1975|1977|1979|1981|1983|1985|1987
Wheat (5/31)| 0.9|0.6 |0.45|1.1 |0.9 |1.0 |1.5 |1.4 |1.85
Corn (8/31)~|0.75|0.75|0.5 |1.2 |1.7 |1.5 |2.5 |1.5 |4.9

Year - - - -|1989|1991|1993|1995|1996*
Wheat (5/31)| 0.7| 0.9| 0.5| 0.5|0.46
Corn (8/31)~| 1.9| 1.5| 2.1| 1.5|0.75

* projected

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Sub-Part [Ab10] ~ Grain and Soybean Data ~ South America ~
Brazil's Cerrado region is a vast tropical savannah (grassland) that covers 23% of Brazil in central Brazil. It was always thought that the soil was of low fertility, but by rotating soy with other crops yields can be greatly increased e.g. Rice yields were 740 kg./ha in 1974 vs. 2500 kg./ha in 2007. Corn yields have tripled in the Cerrado's richest soil. Soybeans add nitrogen and organic matter (via crop residues?) to the soil. Now the Cerrado yields soybeans, corn, sorghum, cotton, rice, beans and fresh produce. Sugar is limited to 10% of the acreage. (30% of Brazil's automobile fuel currently comes from sugar cane-based ethanol.) A variety of soybeans were developed to be compatible with the tropical heat and the low humidity of the Cerrado. The research was carried out by the Empresa Brasileira de agropecuaria (EMBRAPA) the Brazilian Government's agriculture research station. Brazil has historically been a major exporter of only coffee and sugar. Today it is a world leader in sales of soy, beef, and orange juice. Grain output has doubled in one decade. Brazil's farm industry accounts for 90% of Brazil's trade surplus of more than $40 billion/ year. Large amounts of chemical fertilizer are added to the soil. Lime is also added to correct the acidity of the soil. Native fruits that depended on acid soils have vanished from large areas. The Cerrado's sandy clay soil is capable of holding little waste, so animal waste and chemical wastes wind up polluting water sources. (Mario Osava, "Agriculture-Brazil: Green Revolution on the Savannah," Inter Press Service News Agency (9/21/07).) (See Borlaug for more information on the Cerrado region.) (This material was used in my Sustainability document,)

SECTION (9-B) ~ Hunger Statistics, Food Consumption and Rural Landlessness ~

~ Per capita food consumption (kcal/ person/ day) (03A3).

Year~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |1964|1974|1984|1997|2015|2030

Range ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | /66| /76| /86| /99| - -| - -

World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |2358|2435|2655|2803|2940|3050

Developing~ ~ ~ ~ |2054|2152|2450|2681|2850|2980

Sub-Saharan Africa|2058|2079|2057|2195|2360|2540

Near East/N.Africa|2290|2591|2953|3006|3090|3170

Latin Amer./Carib.|2393|2546|2689|2824|2980|3140

South Asia~ ~ ~ ~ |2017|1986|2205|2403|2700|2900

East Asia ~ ~ ~ ~ |1957|2105|2559|2921|3060|3190

Industrial~ ~ ~ ~ |2947|3065|3206|3380|3440|3500

Transition~ ~ ~ ~ |3222|3385|3379|2906|3060|3180


~ -excl.transition|2261|2341|2589|2795|2930|3050


~ -excl.China ~ ~ |2104|2197|2381|2549|2740|2900

East Asia

~ -excl.China ~ ~ |1988|2222|2431|2685|2830|2980

Sub-Saharan Africa|2037|2076|2057|2052|2230|2420

~ -Excl.Nigeria]]

See Chapter 11 Section (F) Databases, "World Resources 2005" for a compilation of:

~ Cereals Received as food aid (1000 tonnes) (2002)
~ Net Cereal Imports as a % of total consumption (2002)
~ Cereal Fed to Livestock as a % of total consumption (2003)
~ Calorie Supply per capita (Kcal/ person/ day) (2002)
~ Share of Calorie supply from animal products (2002)
~ Malnutrition in children under age 5.
~ GDP per capita in 2002

Part [Ba] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Global ~ [Ba1]~Numbers of Hungry People, [Ba2]~General, [Ba3]~Food Aid (International) ~

The increased global demand for food in both rural regions and urban centers cannot be met by expanding the agricultural area because - in most cases - the remaining land is not suitable for sustainable crop production. (Dregne, H.E. (1997): "Land degradation control in the drylands: Establishing priorities." In: Desert Conservation and Development. (Editors: Barakat, H. N.; Hegazy, A.K.) Metropole, Cairo, Egypt, pp.73-88.) Comments: Brazil's Cerrado is probably the only significant exception to this.

The number of hungry people in the developing world reached a recent historical low of 800 million in 1996 to over 1 billion today. This was partly due to increased food prices (09B6).

During the period 1970-1990 the total food available per person globally rose by 11%, while the number of hungry people fell from 942 million to 786 million. If you eliminate China from the data, the number of hungry people in the world increased by more than 11% (536 to 597 million). (In China, the number of hungry people dropped from 406 million to 189 million.) In South America during 1970-1990, food supplies per capita increased by almost 8%; yet the number of hungry people increased by 19%. In South Asia, by 1990 food supplies per capita had increased by 9%; yet the number of hungry people also increased by 9% (00R1). Comments: The period 1970 to 1990 was also a period of "Structural Adjustment Programs" (SAPs) that institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization imposed on much of the developing world. This threw countless developing world folk into the "informal" economy in which survival was/ is a significant challenge. (SAPs were not imposed on China since the above three organizations had no leverage to impose them.)

The number of "malnourished" (people with dietary imbalances or specific deficiencies) is more than half the world population (99Y1) (96W1).

Sub-Part [Ba1] ~ Number of Hungry People ~ Numbers of Hungry People ~

The number of hungry people declined for several decades and bottomed out in the mid-1990s at 825 million. It then climbed to 915 million in 2008 and jumped to over 1 billion in 2009 (09B2). Comments: This was probably an effect of both price increases and population growth.

For much of the late 20th century, the number of hungry people was declining, but it bombed out in the late 1990s at 825 million. It then turned up, reaching 870 million in 2005 and passing one billion in 2009 (09B3).

The number of hungry people in the world has increased by 4 million/ year since the mid-1990s (07R2). Comments: The world's population increases by about 78 million/ year.

Changes in the number of people with insufficient food between 1990 and 2002 (in millions of people) (UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2005).

Eastern Asia


Southeastern Asia


Latin America/Caribbean


Northern Africa


Western Asia


Southern Asia


Sub-Saharan Africa


In a typical year the World Food Program distributes food to about 90 million people, many of whom are threatened with starvation. Most of the remaining 700 million have neither the money to buy food, nor the ability to grow it (04T1).

The number of hungry people in the world is plotted as a function of time (during 1990 to 2002) for the developing world and the developing world neglecting China in Reference (05V1) (FAO data).

Undernourished people in the developing world, in millions: (04T1)
Year -|1969-71|1979-81|1990-92|1995-97|1999-01
Number| 958 ~ | 920 ~ | 837 ~ | 780 ~ | 798

Some 27 million people in countries in transition suffer from under-nourishment, and 11 million in industrialized countries (Reference lost). Comments: "Countries in Transition" are typically countries of the former Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

Some 777 million people in developing countries do not have access to sufficient and adequate food (Reference lost). Comments: Obsolete - The number for around 2009 exceeds 1.0 billion.

The number of chronically hungry people in the world is set to fall from 776 million now to 440 million in 2030, says the UN FAO. FAO concludes that global grain production will have to rise by 1.2%/ year to meet the demand for food and feed. This is 17% higher that the 1990s average. The FAO report says the area of land under crops can increase by 20% by 2030, even with a slower rate of deforestation worldwide. But it concedes that the bulk of the production increases - up to 80% - must come from boosting yields per hectare. The FAO rejects the conclusions of other analysts, such as Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, that such yield increases are unlikely. These analysts fear that the halving in the annual growth rate of grain production since the 1980s is a sign that land, water and the biological potential of crops to turn fertilizer into grain is reaching a maximum. The FAO says yield increases have slowed because of a fall in demand caused by slowing population growth - and the inability of people without money to turn their need for grain into market demand (03F1).

Presently half of India's children are malnourished, 350 million Indians go to bed hungry, and pockets of starvation deaths surface regularly (02W3). However India runs an annual wheat surplus of 53 million tonnes, which could, in theory, largely eliminate these hunger problems. However India's farm lobby has been persuading the government to subsidize wheat production by buying wheat at ever-increasing prices. Meanwhile, the World Bank and other lenders have been forcing the Indian government to reduce wheat-consumption subsidies for India's poor (02W1). The result: increasing production, decreasing consumption, falling water tables, depleting soils, rotting wheat, hunger, and wheat storage costs that exceed the amount the Indian government spends on agriculture, rural development, irrigation and flood control - combined (02W1).

The FAO estimates that 826 million out of the 6.1 billion people living on Earth are under-nourished due to a combination of natural and man-made disasters such as overpopulation, civil wars, population displacements, flash floods, water shortages, dry spells, and pasture damage.

Exponential population growth and linear food-production growth have characterized the past 4 decades (94K3). Comments: In recent years (since around 2000) population growth rates have declined.

Although the percentage of hungry people has dropped over the past 2 decades, their numbers have increased because of population growth (98H1). Today, an estimated two billion people suffer from micro-nutrient deficiencies in their diets, and 840 million of them are chronically malnourished (98H1).

The proportion of hungry people worldwide has dropped from 1/3 to 1/5 since 1970. The number of mal-nourished people in poor countries declined from 918 million in the early 1970s to 841 million in the early 1990s. (Bread for the World Institute report, 11/19/98) (99B2) (Note: no Ref. (99B2) or (99B1) as of 6/02/02, but (98B2) does refer to a date of 11/19/98.).

Total number of chronically under-nourished people in developing countries: 828 million for 1994-1996, vs. 822 million for 1990-1992. Overall percentage of malnourished as a part of the world population: 20% (1991-1992), 19% (1994-1996). Contrary to the overall tendency in developing countries as a whole, the poorest countries have not been able to reduce the percentage of undernourished since 1969-1971 (98U1).

Over 3 billion people are malnourished in the world - the largest number and proportion ever in history (96W1). Comments: This pertains to micro-nutrients, not calories, the usual standard of nutrition.

UNICEF's 1998 State of the World's Children reports that malnutrition in some parts of the world has decreased, but the overall number of malnourished children is on the rise. At least 50% of all children under age 5 in South Asia, and 33% of those in sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished (98P1).

In line with recent studies (88K1), (89K1), with the world population at 5.5 billion, food production is adequate to feed 7 billion people a vegetarian diet, with ideal distribution and no grain fed to livestock. Yet over 1 billion in "utter poverty" live with hunger (90U2), (88K1), (89K1), (89E1), (91M2), (92U3).

A recent FAO report indicates that chronic under-nutrition in developing countries has improved somewhat (92S3).

In the early 1980s the World Bank and UNFAO estimated that 0.7-1 billion persons lived in "absolute poverty." In 1989 the number was 1.225 billion - 23% of world population (94K3).

In 1989 poverty increased dramatically in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia, swamping reductions in China and India (94K3).

Over 7.3 million people die from hunger annually. (1/5/00 BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/oneplanet/live.ram)

According to the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 14.6 million people/ year in the world die of hunger-related causes. 1.2 billion of the world's rural population lives in conditions of extreme poverty. (IPS, 11/16/99) Comments: "Extreme poverty" apparently refers to $1.00/ day/ capita income that 1.3 billion people live within.

Malnutrition kills 6-7 million children/ year in the world. Half the children in south Asia and a third of children in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from malnutrition. (UNICEF report quoted in Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 12/16/97).

Some 18 million people/ year, mostly children, die from starvation, malnutrition, and related causes. (Hinrichsen, D., "Winning the Food Race", Population Reports, Series M, #13. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Population Information Program, 11/97. 24pp.).

In the U.S., 13 million children (25% of those under age 12) can't get enough to eat (UNICEF report quoted in Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 12/16/97).

One in every three people on Earth is mal-nourished. Some 18 million people/ year (mostly children) die of starvation, mal-nutrition and related causes (97H1).

About 0.5-1.0 billion people in the world are mal-nourished (Ref. 13 of (92N1)).

The number of malnourished people in the world is close to 1.0 billion people (Ref. 4 of (94B1)) (UN data).

Some 1.0 billion people in the world are mal-nourished (Ref.1 of (86P1)).

The number of mal-nourished people in the world: 0.9 billion (Ref. 19 of (94B4)) (UN data).

About 0.7 billion people in the world face endemic hunger not caused by natural disaster. Most of these people are in India and sub-Saharan Africa (95C2) (World Bank Data).

Over 1.0 billion people in the world are mal-nourished because of food shortages and inadequate distribution (Ref. 8, 9 of (95P1)).

About 0.5 billion people in the world suffer from malnutrition (76M3), (76P2).

Over 50 million people are threatened by famine, and 0.7 billion suffer chronic malnutrition due to poverty (92A1) (UN data).

Food intake/ day (calories, total protein, meat protein) of 32 nations is charted in Ref. (76M3).

The number of under-nourished people in the world fell from 844 to 786 million during the 1980s (94B5). This decline reflects improved nutrition in Asia alone. The number of people having energy-deficient diets in Latin America, Near East, and Africa climbed (94B5).

Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people, disproportionately women and girls, suffer from malnutrition and dietary deficiencies (Hinrichsen, D., "Winning the Food Race", Population Reports, Series M, #13. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Population Information Program, 11/1997. 24pp.).

Number of Under-nourished People in the World ((90W1), p. 87) (Numbers of people in millions.)
Region- - - -| 1969-70| 1979-81| 1983-85
- - - - - - -| No.|(%)| No.|(%)| No.|(%)

Africa ~ ~ ~ | 92 | 32|110 | 29|140 | 32
Far East ~ ~ |281 | 29|288 | 24|291 | 22
Latin America| 51 | 18| 52 | 15| 55 | 14
Near East~ ~ | 35 | 22| 24 | 12| 26 | 11
Totals ~ ~ ~ |460 |100|475 | 80|512 | 79

Sub-Part [Ba2] ~ Hunger Statistics, Food Consumption ~ Global ~ General ~
Despite projections of a bumper grain crop in 2007, 33 countries will not have enough food. These include Iraq, Lesotho, the Philippines, Swaziland and Zimbabwe (among the hardest hit), Afghanistan, North Korea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Liberia, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger and Sierra Leone (classed as "widespread lack of access to food") ("Despite bumper grain crop, 33 countries in food crisis: UN," Agence Frances Presse (04/03/07).).

International Food Policy Research Institute, (2033 K Street NW, Washington DC 2006-1002. Tel.1-202-862-5600 Email IFPRI@cgiar.org Web: http://www.ifpri.org) has an interesting 8-page document "The World Food Situation: An Overview" by Joachim von Braun (prepared for the CGIAR Annual General Meeting in Marrakech, Morocco on 12/6/05) http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/agm05/jvb/jvbagm2005.pdf

In 2002, according to the UN World Food Program, farmers produce enough food to provide every person on earth with 2800 calories per day. Inadequate infrastructure, local corruption and rural poverty have prevented the chronically hungry from gaining assess to the food available (04T1). Comments: India's farmers receive price supports for their grain (a subsidy), but subsidies for consumption have been dropping over the years due to pressures from agencies like the IMF - thus the hunger and starvation in the midst of plenty, and huge costs for storage of surplus grain.

As of February 2004, the number of countries facing serious food shortages throughout the world stands at 38 with 24 in Africa, 7 in Asia, 5 in Latin America and 2 in Europe. In many of these countries, food shortages are being compounded by the effect of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on food production, marketing and transport ("Latest FAO Food crops and Shortages", FAO, Feb., 2004) http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/J1757e/J1757e00.htm

A swath of Asia from India to China leaves the biggest human footprint as it gobbles up 80% of the plant resources it produces, says Taylor Ricketts, director of the Conservation Science Program at the World Wildlife Fund. A recent study on ecological imbalances has drawn a map that shows mankind's ecological footprint for each square mile of Earth's inhabited zones, which defies conventional wisdom about consumption, and illustrates the effect of population density. The study adds up all the sun energy converted to organic carbon by plants each year and calls it "net primary production" or NPP - about 56 billion tons of carbon. Subtract the portion that human beings use in materials from cotton in clothes to wood in homes to in a bowl of cereal. The world's 6.3 billion people appropriate up to a third of the world's NPP. This sounds sustainable, but disguises geographical imbalances. For example, most of Siberia uses 0% of its local NPP. North America uses 23%, less than the world average. North Americans eat 5.4 tons of carbon per year compared with 1.2 tons for residents of south central Asia. But that part of Asia is more populous and more densely packed and consumes 1.6 billion tons of NPP per year or 80% of the carbon of that area. If developing nations boost consumption to match industrialized countries, overall appropriation of NPP would rise 75% and is already happening. More than 1 billion people in developing and "transitional" (Eastern Europeans in the former USSR) nations have become wealthy enough to consume like Americans. They own one-fifth of the world's automobiles and by 2010, could own a third and the environmental costs of automobiles are huge. Worldwide, the average human footprint is 2.28 hectares (5.4 acres), but Earth only has a bio-capacity of 1.9 ha/ person that leaves a 0.38 ha deficit/ person. In China, it is 0.5 ha/ capita. China's population is a major part of 1.1 billion new consumers with purchasing power of more than $6 trillion. They will buy 800 million cars by 2010 and use a quarter of all electricity. In 2000, the US used about 23% of the world's energy. ("A Voracious Earth - Some Regions - Especially in Asia - Are Overusing Their Renewable Resources", Christian Science Monitor (9/2/04)).

~ Aggregate Consumption of Cereals, by Category of Use (03A1) ~
(Converted from a graph) (millions of tonnes/ year) (The original graph breaks these figures down into consumption as food, as feed, and as Other uses and Waste.) (Dev. = Developing World; Ind. = Industrial world; Trans. = Transition economies (Former Soviet Union countries)
Year - |World |Dev.|Ind.|Trans.
1974-76| 1230 | 590|380 |240
1984-86| 1600 | 830|450 |300
1997-99| 1850 |1120|520 |205
2015 - | 2380 |1520|600 |220
2030 - | 2830 |1910|640 |240

Poultry is the fastest-growing meat sector worldwide: it represented 13% of the meat production in the 1960s, compared to 28% around 2002 (Reference lost).

Over the past few decades, consumption of meat in developing countries has increased by 5-6 %/ year; consumption of milk and dairy products at 3-4%/ year (Reference lost).

In 1965 in developing countries, per-capita food consumption was 2054 kcal/ person/ day. In 1998 it was 2681. The largest increase was in East Asia - 1957 kcal/ person/ day in 1965 to 2921 in 1998 (Reference lost).
A study by the UN's World Food Program in India finds that 36% of urban children were shorter than they should be, and 38% were below their normal weight " ("
Indian Children 'Malnourished'" (mid-October, 2002) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2354167.stm (October 2002)).

If scarcities of renewable resources - such as cropland, forest, fresh water, and fish - become severe, could they precipitate violent civil or international conflict? This article reports the results of an international research project that shows that environmental scarcities are already contributing to violent conflicts in many parts of the developing world ("Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence From Cases", January 1994 University of Toronto www.utoronto.ca/env/papers/acros5/allowed/entry.htm).

Perhaps a billion+ people spend 70% or more of their income on food (89B5).

China's Water Shortage Could Shake World Food Security, (Lester R. Brown, Brian Halweil, Worldwatch (July/August 1998)).

The UNFAO estimates that, to feed a world of 9 billion people in 2050, without allowing for additional food imports, Africa would have to increase food production by 300%, Latin America by 80%, and Asia by 70%. Even North America would have to increase food production by 30% to feed its own projected population of 348 million (97H1).

Until recently, the world had three reserves it could call on in the event of a poor harvest:

As of 1997, the first two of these reserves have largely disappeared (97B3).

Between 1985-1995, food production lagged behind population growth in 64 of 105 developing countries studied by the UN. (UNFAO, FAO Production Yearbook - 1995. Rome, FAO, 1996.) (97H1).

At 200 kg. grain/ capita, almost all grain is needed to maintain a minimum level of physical activity. At 300 kg. grain/ capita, some grain can be converted to pork, poultry and eggs (95B2).

To feed people a diverse diet (i.e. fruits and vegetables in addition to grain), 0.5 ha. of arable land/ capita (1 km2/ 200 people) is needed, but only 0.27 ha/ capita (1 km2/ 370 people) is "available" (95P1). Comments: By "available" is apparently meant "currently used as cropland".

Per-Capita Caloric Intake (kcal/ day) in World and Selected Regions (Table 3, Ref. (85O1))
Region//Year |48-52|57-9|61-3|64-6|66-8|69-1|72-4|75-7|79-1
World Total - |2240|2420|2415|2460|2460|2540|2560|2590|2600

N. America~ ~ |3170|3280|3320|3360|3385|3470|3495|3520|3545
West Europe ~ |2750|2910|3205|3235|3255|3335|3390|3380|3420
USSR/E.Europe |2780|3180|3240|3270|3300|3380|3415|3465|3410
Far East/China|1890|2060|1980|- - |2020|2140|2190|2250|2270
Near East ~ ~ |2220|- - |2290|2340|2415|2430|2500|2650|2675
Sub-Sahar.Afr.|- - |- - |2070|2100|2135|2195|2175|2210|2230
Latin America |2315|- - |2405|2470|2510|2530|2520|2555|2550

A good discussion of the relationship between agriculture, world hunger and politics is in Ref. (83C2). US foreign assistance (including food aid) fails to help the poor because it is based on a fundamental fallacy -that aid can reach the powerless even though channeled through the powerful (Ref. 3 of (83C2)).

Number of countries facing food emergencies: 29 in mid-1997; 40 in late-1998 (98U1).

The FAO has identified 82 countries at particular risk for food shortages. These countries face rapid population growth, do not produce enough food domestically, confronts serious constraints to producing more food, and cannot import enough food to make up the deficit (98S2).

Over 20% of harvested food never makes to the dinner table because of spoilage, spillage, and losses to rodents and insects (96G1). Comments: This loss is presumably in addition to crop losses to insects before harvest (13% of the harvest in the US in 1989) (96G1).

Sub-Part [Ba3] ~ Hunger Statistics, Food Consumption ~ Global ~ Food Aid (International) ~

In 2007 food donations to the world's hungry 850 million people fell to their lowest level since 1973. Global food aid in 2006 was 6.7 million tonnes. This was the lowest level in 34 year (07R2).

The U.S., the world's largest donor of food aid, spends about $2 billion/ year on food donations. In 2004, the US paid $363 to buy a tonne of food and ship it to the developing world. The 2007 price is $611 (07R2).

U.S. law prohibits buying crops abroad (for food aid?). The EU shifted to providing food assistance in units of cash years ago. Canada allows up to 50% of food aid funds to buy crops in the developing world (07R2).

The UN listed 34 countries as needing food aid (in 2007?) (07H1).

Global Food Aid (millions of tons/ year) (97P2)
Year - - - - - |1993|1996
Global ~ ~ ~ ~ |16.8| 7.5
US Contribution| 10+| 4.-

During 1960-1983, 57% of the total loan fund allocated by the World Bank for agriculture in Central America supported production of beef for export. 50+% of the fund went to Honduras to large landowners, merchants and industrialists (94J1).

The 50,000 km2 of US tobacco cropland, converted to grain land, could support 6 month's growth in global population (95B2).

The 14,000 km2 of US corn now used for ethanol could cover 4 months of global population growth (95B2).

The 90,000 km2 of cotton cropland, converted to grain land, could support 11 months of global population growth (95B2).

The 140,000 km2 of US CRP (sustainable) could cover 12 months of global population growth (95B2).

The US told other food-donating nations that the US would reduce its grain donation by 45% - to 2.5 million tonnes/ year through 1998 (95H1).

World food donations to countries with food deficits are at the lowest level since the mid-1970s - 6.5 million tons/ year according to the USDA (Wall Street Journal, 2/19/98).

From FY93-96 the international budget for food aid has been cut in half - dropping the amount of grain available from 15.2 tons to 7.6 (97B3).

Food aid by donor-nations has dropped from a 1993 high of 15.2 million tons to 7.6 million tons in 1996 (95B1), (96B1).

Part [Bb] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Bb1]~Africa, [Bb2]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Bb3]~Far East, [Bb4]~Europe, [Bb5]~Central Asia, [Bb6]~Southeast Asia, [Bb7]~Middle East, [Bb8]~Latin America, [Bb9]~US, ~

Sub-Part [Bb1] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Africa ~
Of 36 countries grappling with food crises, 21 are in Africa. The World Food Program estimates that nearly one sixth of the world's population - almost 1 billion people - are hungry (
08S2). Comments: A larger percentage of the world's population is mal-nourished. Tropical soils are inherently low in fertility. One exception is terra preta (Portuguese for dark earth) that was developed by Amazonians about 7000 years ago and remains fertile to this day. Since 2001 scientists the world over have been attempting to learn how to replicate the soils developed by the early Amazonians.

Niger farmers grow little besides millet, which is a very poor staple. The UN and aid organizations want the farmers to grow peanuts and beans, and to raise goats, but the farmers are reluctant ("Niger," Chicago Tribune (8/25/05).).

A non-governmental organization Food Aid International (FAI) has said that about 3000 people die daily of hunger and poverty in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country. The report quoted the survey conducted by the FAI as saying that out of Nigeria's estimated population of 130 million, nearly 14 million go hungry daily, with half of them being underfed ("One in Ten Deaths From Hunger, Nigerian", The Punch (3/01/04)).

In Zimbabwe, white-owned farms have been taken by squatters. They now grow half of what grew five years ago and 7.2 million people need help getting food ("UN Says Hunger Threatens Southern Africa Despite Plenty", New York Times (6/13/03)).

Northern Mozambique has a surplus of grain, yet one million people face hunger because with few roads and no rail, getting food is expensive ("UN Says Hunger Threatens Southern Africa Despite Plenty", New York Times (6/13/03)).

In Eritrea, war and drought have left more than two million people without enough food ("UN Says Hunger Threatens Southern Africa Despite Plenty", New York Times (6/13/03)).

A million people died in Ethiopia of famine in 1984-1985; in 2003 more than 12 million are at risk. Rural Ethiopians have never recovered from the famine of 1984, or the droughts that came after that ("The Ethiopian Famine", New York Times (7/28/03)).

Higgins and Kassam (Ref. 20 of (90L1)) estimated that soils of tropical Africa, if properly used, and at low levels of inputs, could feed 3 times the 1975 African population, and 1.5 times the estimated population in 2000. At intermediate levels of input, Africa could feed 5 times the population projected for 2000 (90L1).

A new UN study projects that Africa will be able to feed 40% of its projected 1.0 billion inhabitants in 2025, vs. 67% of its current population of 550 billion (Pittsburgh Post Gazette (10/15/99)).

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that, in Africa, the number of mal-nourished children is expected to increased by 45% between 1993-2020 to 40 million. IFPRI projects that by 2020 every third person living in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to lack food security (98S2).

Around 25 years ago, African countries were self-sufficient in food. But by 1995 1/4 of Sub-Saharan African people were homeless and jobless, and agricultural growth rates declined from 2.2% a year (1965-73), to 1.0% (1974-80), and 0.6% (1981-85). From 1980-92, food aid increased from 1.6 to 4.2 million tons (11/6/99 Xinhua).

Numbers of South African, food-insecure people: 22 million in early 1980s; 39 million in the 1990s (PanAfrican News Agency (2/9/00)).

Dr. Norman Borlaug contends that Africa could double its food output with available fertilizers, pesticides and high-yield seeds (99A1). Comments: High-yield (green revolution) seeds require lots of chemical fertilizer. This is something that sub-Saharan Africa does not have. The transportation infrastructure is extremely bad, so imported fertilizer bears a cost about 60 times greater than in the EU (in terms of hours of labor to purchase a ton of fertilizer).

Chronic malnutrition is stunting the growth of Kenyan children, with over 30% of the children under age 5 countrywide severely stunted, according to a 1998 Demographic and Health Survey. About 6% of children under 5 in Kenya are wasted, and 1% "severely" wasted (Xinhua, 11/19/99).

Since 1970, food production in Africa has increased at only half the rate of increase of the population (Ref. 9 of (88L1)).

Food production/ capita in some African countries declined from 160 kg. (in 1970) to 100 kg.(in 1984) (Ref. 63 of (88L1)).

Food production/ capita in sub-Saharan Africa grew 1%/ year in the 1960s, 1.2%/ year in the 1970s, and -2.0%/ year during 1980-85 (Ref. 40 of (88L1)).

The 48 African nations and territories south of the Sahara desert will be able to feed only 40% of their projected combined population of 1 billion people by 2025, the report said (FAO-World Bank joint release, 16 Oct.1999). The region today is able to feed 70% of its population of 550 million people (Reuters/PlanetArk (10/18/99)) (99U1).

Food shortages resulting from soil degradation are to blame for as many as half of all African children's deaths. Soil degradation is also the root of many of Africa's armed conflicts as people compete for better land (99U1).

Over the last 30 years, the number of chronically malnourished people in Africa has doubled to 200 million (99U1).

The number of Kenyan children who are severely malnourished has reached 37%, vs. 33% 4 years ago. ("Level of Malnutrition in Kenyan Children on the Rise", The East African (8/17/99)).

In Africa, per-capita food production fell in 31 of 46 countries (UNFAO, FAO Production Yearbook, 1995. Rome, FAO (1996).).

About 30% of African children today suffer malnutrition (10/15/99 ENN Direct).

In Africa south of the Sahara, malnourished people numbered 196 million in 1990-1992, 210 million in 1994-1996 (98U1).

Lesotho has one-third of its 2.1 million people on the brink of starvation. Lesotho is almost entirely dependent on rain-fed subsistence farming, with almost no irrigation. Average farm yields in Lesotho have declined by more than 2/3 since the 1970s. Soil erosion in Lesotho is spreading fast, and soil fertility is deteriorating even faster ("Bizarre Weather Ravages Africans' Crops - Some See Link To Worldwide Warming Trend", The Washington Post, 1/6/03). Comments: Fertilizer usage (chemical +organic) is insufficient in Africa to replenish nutrients removed with harvests - due mainly to lack of roads making the cost of fertilizer there much higher than in the rest of the world.)

Food Insecurity in Selected African Countries, 1986 (Table 1-1 of (89B1)*) (People in millions)
Country -|People|% of Population
Ethiopia~ |14.7 |34% of 43.2
Nigeria ~ |13.7 |13% of 105.4
Zaire ~ ~ |12.0 |38% of 31.6
Tanzania~ | 6.6 |29% of 22.8
Kenya ~ ~ | 6.2 |29% of 21.4
Uganda~ ~ | 6.1 |40% of 15.3
Mozambique| 5.9 |42% of 14.0
Algeria ~ | 4.1 |18% of 22.8
Ghana ~ ~ | 4.1 |31% of 13.2
Sudan ~ ~ | 3.4 |15% of 22.7
Zambia~ ~ | 2.7 |39% of 6.9
Mali~ ~ ~ | 2.5 |33% of 7.6
Chad~ ~ ~ | 2.4 |47% of 5.1
Morocco ~ | 2.4 |11% of 21.8
Somalia ~ | 2.3 |42% of 5.5
Total ~ ~ |89.1 |25% of 359.3

* World Development Report, World Bank, 1988

A fast-spreading famine is putting 30 million Africans at risk of malnutrition or death as the West grows weary of giving aid. UNFAO said 5.7 million tons of food is needed (Wall Street Journal, 6/19/91).

Some 17 Sub-Saharan countries have food emergencies (91U2).

[Bb1a] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Africa ~ Somalia ~
The 300,000 Somalis who starved to death in late 1992 were replaced globally in 29 hours (94B4). (Global births = 140 million/ year: Global deaths = 50 million/ year).

Sub-Part [Bb2] ~ Hunger Statistics and Rural Landlessness ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~
In 2000, even though Indian granaries were overflowing and wheat was rotting on the ground, 1.8 million Indian children were dying every year from malnutrition (

In Bangladesh, landlessness among rural households rose from 35% in 1960 to 53% in the early 1990s (United Nations, "Government Views on the Relationship between Population and Environment", United Nations, New York, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (1997).) Comments: The population growth rate in Bangladesh was 3%/ year in 1973, 2.7%/ year in 1980, and 1.6%/ year in 1999.

In 2001, India's wheat and rice stockpiles approached 60 million tons, and by 2001 India had its own grain export business, exporting 10 million tons of grain. India has more hungry people than any other country - as many as 214 million according to UN estimates, or 20% of India's population. A 2002 Indian government survey found that 48% of Indian children under age 5 were malnourished (04T1).

[Bb2a] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ Bangladesh ~
About 427,000 people starved in Bangladesh in 1971-1972; 330,000 starved in 1974-1975 (Ref. 3 of (81B4)).

[Bb2b] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~ India ~
In 1965 and 1966, the US shipped 20% of its wheat crop to India each year due to a monsoon failure ((81B4), p. 996).

(UNFPA data), 320 million Indians consumed under 80% of the minimum energy requirement in 1997 requirement. Over 80% of the rural populations of Assam, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra consume less than this minimum daily requirement, and 50% of rural Gujarat and Tamil Nadu receive less than the minimum. 20% of cereals are distributed to livestock and 5% are used as seeds. Minimum requirement: 2400 Calories/ day for rural areas; 2100 for urban areas. (10/19/99 Times of India).

According to a new World Bank report, "Wasting Away: The Crisis of Malnutrition in India", over 50% of all children under age 4 are malnourished, 30% of newborns are significantly under-weight, and 60% of women are anemic. Mortality has declined by 50%, (Total) fertility by 40%, malnutrition by 20% in the last 40 years (World Bank India, 11/19/99).

In 1972, 829,000 people starved in 3 Indian states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa) (81B4).

Sub-Part [Bb3] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Far East ~
While considerable progress has been made in the Asia-Pacific, 766 million people there still live on less than $1 a day. The Asia-Pacific region is home to 106 million undernourished children and 122 million people living below the minimum level of dietary energy requirement ("Despite Some Progress, Asia-Pacific Region Still Menaced by Hunger", UN News Centre (2/4/04)).

As a result of China's 1959-1961 famine following the "Great Leap Forward", 30 million Chinese starved to death (94B3), (95A1), (95B2).

About 120 million Chinese suffer from malnutrition but despite the statistics, the number of poor Chinese has fallen from a quarter billion at the start of economic reform in 1978 to 28 million ("120 Million Chinese Suffer From Malnutrition", Xinhua General News Service (10/16/03)).

Information from "Starvation Lingers in Impoverished North Korea", Agence France Presse (2/18/03).

About 60% of North Korean children are malnourished, and millions have had growth stunted by persistent lack of food, the UN said. The random survey of 1800 children was completed in October of 1998 (Wall Street Journal, 11/19/98).

Sub-Part [Bb4] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Europe ~
The 1845 Irish potato famine was caused by more than just a fungus. During the 6-year blight, Ireland exported large amounts of barley, wheat and oats to England. The Irish who died or emigrated were replaced by 977,000 head of cattle (95C1).

Sub-Part [Bb5] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Central Asia ~
Malnutrition is in large part to blame for much of the health problems among Russian children. Many are starving. About 40% of Russian families live under the poverty line. Meat consumption in Russia in the last decade has fallen from 75 kilos (165 pounds) a year to 46 kilos on average, and to 17.5 kilos for the poorest families
("Widespread Malnutrition Blamed in Part for Ill Health of Russian Children", AFP (2/3/04)).

Most Russians spend more than 50% of their family budget on food, but remain unable to afford meat and fruit (Erin B. Friar, Wall Street Journal (7/17/95)).

Sub-Part [Bb6] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Southeast Asia ~
In East Asia and South-East Asia, there are 258 million malnourished people (98U1).

In South Asia, in 1994-1996, there were 254 million under-nourished people, vs. 237 million in 1990-1992 (98U1).

Up to 50% of Vietnamese children are malnourished; 15% of the cases are serious (90H1).

Vietnamese have the world's highest rate of rice consumption, but diets lack protein, fat, vitamins and minerals (90H1).

World Health officials fear that as many as 50% of Indonesia's people will face acute food shortages by the end of 1998. Indonesia's food distribution network has broken down because of social unrest in many areas. Prices of fertilizer and pesticides in Indonesia have increased beyond farmers' ability to pay (98S1).

Sub-Part [Bb7] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Middle East ~
Up until the late 1970s, Iraq was largely self-sufficient in basic cereals. In recent years, however, Iraq became a net food importer. Iraq's food requirements are likely to double because of its population growth, 3.6%/ year (

Iraq is largely dependent on international food aid. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) estimates that it will need to import more than 2 million tons of food into Iraq over the next six months at a cost of US$1.7 billion, the largest such effort in the UN's 40-year history. According to the WFP, 16 million Iraqis ~ more than two-thirds of Iraq's population - are thought to be entirely dependent on food aid (03I1).

Sub-Part [Bb8] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ Latin America ~
The ejido system includes 70% of all Mexican farmers and accounts for 49% of Mexico's total land area. 70% of Mexico's remaining forests are within the ejidos and other agrarian communes. Some 20% of ejido holdings are not arable at all, and 64% of ejido farmers work parcels smaller than 5 ha. (

Haiti produces only half of its food requirements. 30-40% of harvests are lost or damaged while being transported due to poor roads. 75% of rural Haitian families spend over 75% of their income for each member to eat at least 2250 calories a day. Chronic malnutrition in children under 5 is 20% in urban areas, 35% in rural areas (11/4/99 Washington Post).

Sub-Part [Bb9] ~ Hunger Statistics ~ United States ~
About 2 million people in the US live in households experiencing severe hunger, and 9 million live in households with moderate hunger. (Bread for the World Institute report, 11/19/98) (98B2).

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SECTION (9-C) ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~

A farming adult burns about 1 million kilocalories ("calories") per year. The food energy from a hectare of corn grown with "low technology" is about 9 million kilocalories. [Pimentel] Under primitive conditions, then, 1 hectare of corn would support only 9 people. Even those figures are rather idealistic. We are assuming that people will follow a largely vegetarian diet; if not, they will need even more land. We need to allow for fallow land, cover crops, and green manure, for inevitable inequities in distribution, and for other uses of the land. We must account for any rise in population. Finally, most other crops require more land than corn in order to produce the same yield. On a global scale, a far more realistic ratio would be 4 people to each hectare of arable land. (Pimentel, David. Energy Flows in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems. CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies). 1984. http://ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/s07/c10841.pdf )

A World map of Bangladesh (Pop. 160 million) shows that even a 3-foot rise in sea level would cover half the rice land in Bangladesh. A 3-foot rise in sea level would also inundate one third or more of the Mekong delta, which produces half the rice in Viet Nam (the world's number two rice exporter) (09B3).

The FAO has been mapping and assessing the world's land resources and agro-climates since the early 1960s. In the 1970s it began a decade-long study of 117 developing countries to see which could grow enough food on their available land for their populations. The study-carried out with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) - calculated the numbers each country could theoretically support under a simplified scenario: use of all potentially arable rain-fed land (plus irrigated land) disregarding the needs for other uses, at three input levels - low (using traditional subsistence agriculture), intermediate (using some fertilizer and a combination of current and improved crop varieties) and high (the equivalent of Western European levels of farming) (99F2). (Continued)

It found, based on these assumptions, that even in 1975, 54 developing countries could not feed their populations with traditional methods of food production and 38% of the entire land area - home to 1.165 billion people - was carrying more inhabitants than it could theoretically support. With populations projected to the year 2000, it estimated that 64 countries (more than half the total) would be facing a critical situation; at low input levels; 38 countries would then be unable to support even half their projected populations. About 28 of the 64 developing countries would cease to be critical if they could raise their agriculture to the intermediate level, as would another 17 countries if they could reach Western European standards. But 19 countries would still not be able to produce enough food, even at Western European standards of productivity - and while some of these are wealthy enough to be able to import food, others are among the poorest countries on earth (99F2).(Continued)

Much of the agricultural area of a country or a region has limitations (see chart in FAO, "Soil Limits Agriculture") that may make it less suitable for arable farming. The 1995 FAO estimates of arable land in use compared with the area potentially suitable show similarly wide differences between regions and countries, with some countries having essentially no arable land reserves, such as Tunisia and Burundi, and others having large amounts, for example Angola, Guyana and Brazil. Parts of these gross land reserves are not available for conversion, however, because of other uses including forestry, grazing or conservation (99F2).

Africa's population of 967 million, of whom 53% are under the age of 20, is forecast to reach 2 billion in 2050 (08S2).

See Chapter 11 Section F (Databases) "World Resources 2005" for large compilations of:
~~ Labor Inputs to Agriculture (workers/ ha) (2001)
~~ Tractors per 1000 ha (2001)
~~ Share of food calories supply from animal products in 2002.

Part [Ca] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Global ~
In November 2010, the food price index was up a politically dangerous 12% over a year earlier. If China were to import 20% of its grain, it would need 80 million tons, an amount only slightly less than the 90 million tons of grain the US exports to all countries each year. Being dependent on imported grain (much of it from the US) will be China's worst nightmare come true. For US consumers, China's worst nightmare could become ours. If China enters the US grain market big time, as now seems inevitable, American consumers will find themselves competing with 1.4 billion Chinese consumers with fast-rising incomes for the US grain harvest, driving up food prices (

If China were to import even 20% of its grain, there would likely be pressure from US consumers to restrict or to ban exports to China, as the US did in the 1970s, when it banned soybean exports to Japan. But in dealing with China, the US now faces a very different situation. When the US Treasury Department auctions off securities every month to finance the US fiscal deficit, China has been a major buyer. China holds over $900 billion worth of US Treasury securities (2010). China is our banker. In another time, another age, the US could restrict access to US grain as it did in the 1970s, but with China today this may not be possible (11B2).

More than 3.7 billion people worldwide are malnourished, and 3 billion are living in poverty (10P1).

When the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was set up, its task of improving nutritional standards was expressly understood as a contribution to economic and political stability and hence to the prevention of future wars (Michael Renner, "Ending Violent Conflict", Worldwatch Paper 146 (April 1999) p. 25) (Charles Chatfield and Ruzanna Ilukhina, editors, "Peace/ Mir: An Anthology of Historic Alternatives to War", Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, 1994). (In su0.doc)

The G-8 countries pledged $20 billion over three years for farm investment aid that will help resource-poor farmers get access to tools like better seed and fertilizer (09B1).

Roughly six billion gross tons of food are produced per year. Today, nearly seven billion people consume that stockpile almost in its entirety every year. Factor in growing prosperity and nearly three billion now mouths by 2050 suggests that, within the next four decades the world's farmers will have to double production - on a shrinking land base (09B1).

Corn productivity in the US has grown more than 40% from 1987 to 2007 (09B1).
Soybean productivity in the US has grown by nearly 30% from 1987 to 2007 (
Wheat productivity in the US has increased by 19% during 1987-2007 (

An international team of scientists confirmed the rule of thumb emerging among plant ecologists that for each 1 degree C rise in temperature above the norm during the growing season produced a 10% decline in wheat and rice yields (09B3).

The tripling of world grain harvest since 1950 was a result of development of higher-yielding wheat, rice and corn (the "Green Revolution," a tripling of irrigated area and an 11-fold increase in fertilizer use. Today's farmers face (1) shrinking supplies of irrigation water, (2) reduced marginal productivities of fertilizer, (3) loss of cropland to non-farm use, (4) rising fuel costs, (5) a developing world that is increasing its population by 79 million people per year, (6) The desire of some 3 billion people to consume more livestock products, (7) millions of people supplementing gasoline supplies with crop-based fuels (09B6).

The tripling of the world grain harvest since 1950 is due in part to increasing the area of multi-cropped land in Asia - e.g. wheat and corn in northern China, wheat and rice in northern India, and double- or triple-cropping of rice in southern China and southern India, winter wheat and corn on the north-China plain. Brazil and Argentina multi-crop wheat (or corn) with soybeans. Africa simultaneously plants grain and leguminous trees. The leaves dropping from the trees and tree sprouts provide nitrogen and organic matter. This technique has enabled African farmers to double their grain yields within a matter of years as soil fertility builds (09B6).

If a human population of 6 billion eats 50 grams of protein per capita daily, that amounts to a total of 208 tonnes a minute. If it were all eaten as steak the total rate of consumption would be 1040 tonnes a minute. If it were all wheat, the gross rate would be 2080 tonnes a minute. Production of food at such rates makes huge demands on a range of factors, including fertilizers and energy to produce food and transport it to where it is eaten (04B2).

Demand for dairy products is growing 2.5 to 3%/ year (10%/ year in China) but outputs are rising by only 1.5 to 2%/ year (08B2).

See Chapter 11,Section (11-F) for a compilation of large databases on per-capita food production in 1983 and 2003.

Rising incomes worldwide are enabling 3-4 billion low-income consumers to move up the food chain, consuming more poultry, pork, beef, milk, eggs, and farmed fish. World meat production, which climbed from 44 million tons in 1950 to 265 million tons in 2005, moves higher each year. During this 55-year span, meat production per person more than doubled, going from 17 to 41 kg (06B2).

The newest, potentially huge claimant on world grain supplies, the use of grain to produce fuel ethanol, is concentrated in the US where a projected 55 million tons, or 20% of the projected 268-million-ton corn harvest for 2006, will be used for this purpose. In 2006 the climbing use of corn to produce automotive fuel will catch up with the US export of corn, which is also estimated at 55 million tons (See Ref. (06B2) Figure <http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Grain/2006_data.htm#fig6>). For perspective, although 55 million tons is only 16% of the US grain harvest, it exceeds the total grain harvest of Canada.

World grain production/ consumption data for 1993 (01T1).
Col.2 Total grain grown in millions of tonnes/ year.
Col.3 Eaten by domestic animals in millions of tonnes/ year.
Col.4 Grain eaten by people in millions of tonnes/ year.
Col.5 Grain eaten per person in kg. / year.
Crop -|Col.2|Col.3|Col.4|Col.5
Rice~ | 520 | ~ 0 | 520 | ~90
Wheat | 560 | 112 | 448 | ~80
Corn~ | 529 | 185 | 344 | ~70
Totals|1609 | 297 |1312 | 240

Food prices and energy prices are plotted as a function of time during the period 1995-2005 in reference (05V1).

World Food Needs (01T1):
A person needs 10 million joules of energy/ day (1 calorie = 4.9 joules)
So a person needs 3.7 giga-joules/ year.
1 kg. of dry matter produces about 12.3 million joules.
So a person needs 300 kg. of dry matter/ year.
So 5.8 billion people need 1.7 billion tonnes of dry matter/ year.
In 1995 rain-fed cropland produced 1.3 billion tonnes of dry matter.
In 1995 irrigated cropland produced 0.7 billion tonnes of dry matter.
In 1995 total cropland production was 2.0 billion tonnes (Wheat, rice and corn totaled 1.3 billion tonnes.)
In 1995 total wheat, rice and corn eaten by domestic animals was 0.3 billion tonnes.

About 80% of projected growth in crop production in developing countries will come from intensification in the form of yield increases (67%) and higher cropping intensities (12%, Table 4.2). The share due to intensification will go up to 90% and higher in the land-scarce regions of the Near East/ North Africa and South Asia (03B3).

The projected increase in world crop production over the period from 1998 to 2030 is 55%, against 126% over the past period of similar length. Similar increases for developing countries, as a group, are 67 and 191%, respectively. The only region where the projected increase would be about the same as the historical one would be sub- Saharan Africa, namely 123 and 115%, respectively. The faster growth in the developing countries, as compared to the world average, means that, by 2030, this group of countries will account for 72% of world crop production, vs. 67% in 1997/1999 and 53% around 1967/1969 (03B3).

Aggregate crop production at the world level is projected to grow over the period 1998 to 2030 at 1.4%/ year, down from 2.1%/ year of the past 30 years (Table 4.1). For the developing countries as a group, the corresponding growth rates are 1.6 and 3.1%/ year, respectively (or 1.8 and 2.7%/ year, excluding China). The reasons for this continuing deceleration in crop production growth have been explained in Chapter 3 (03B3).

Sub-Saharan Africa's per-capita consumption of roots, tubers and plantains is 194 kg./capita, providing 23% of total calories (03A1).

Average world food consumption of roots, tubers and plantains is 69 kg/ capita, providing 6% of total food calories (03A1).

The relatively land-intensive nature of oil-crop production growth reflects in large part the fact that they are predominantly rain-fed crops (less than 10% irrigated, vs. 40% for cereals) (03A1).

The growth rate of food demand in developing countries is projected to be 2.9%/ year in the period to 2015, down from 3.6%/ year in the 1990s (03A1).

In terms of actual oil produced and used (rather than of oil equivalent of oil-crops) the world is apparently using 24 million tonnes for non-food industrial uses out of a total use of 86 million tonnes. In the mid-1970s the comparable figures were 6 and 33 million tonnes, respectively (03A1).

In the mid-1970s, consumption of oil products (5.3 kg/ person/ year, in oil equivalent, Table 3.17) supplied 144 kcal/ person/ day, or 6.7% of the total availability of 2152 calories of developing countries. By 1997/99 consumption per-capita had grown to 9.9 kg/ capita contributing 262 kcal to total food supplies, or 9.8% of the total, which itself had risen to 2680 kcal/ capita (03A1).

Oil crops (e.g. soybeans) have been one of the most dynamic parts of world agriculture in recent decades. In the 20 years to 1999 soybean production grew at 4.1% / year (Table 3.15), vs. 2.1% / year for all agriculture (03A1).

~ Per-Capita Consumption (all uses) of individual Cereals in kg./ person/ year (Converted to table-form) (Original reference breaks these data into Coarse grains, Wheat and milled Rice.) (03A1)
Year - |World| Developing
1964-66| 280 | 180
1974-76| 305 | 200
1984-86| 330 | 230
1997-99| 320 | 245
2015 ~ | 330 | 265
2030 ~ | 340 | 280

The growth rate of global demand for cereals (for all uses) declined from 3.1% during 1961-1976 to 1.1% / year during 1984-1999. The deceleration in population growth certainly played a role in this slowdown, as has the fact that a growing proportion of the world population has been attaining levels of per-capita food consumption that leave less scope for further increases (03A1).

TABLE A3 (RIGHT PANEL) (Col. 2-4 are Self-Sufficiency ratios in %)
(Food Feed values (Col. 8 - 9) are % of domestic use (
- - - - - - - - - |Self-Sufficient| Domestic use|Food Feed
- - - - - - - - - | ~(%) ~ ~ ~ ~ |million tonnes|
Year- - - - - - - |1979|1989|1997|1979|1989|1997|1997|1997

Range ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | -81| -91| -99| -81| -91| -99| -99| -99
World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ | 100| 100| 101|1437|1728|1864| ~54| ~35
Developing~ ~ ~ ~ | ~91| ~91| ~91| 712| 952|1129| ~70| ~20
Sub-Saharan Africa| ~85| ~87| ~82| ~48| ~67| ~86| ~82| ~ 5
Near East/N.Africa| ~72| ~69| ~63| ~80| 112| 133| ~59| ~26
Latin Amer/ Carib.| ~93| ~86| ~88| ~94| 112| 142| ~46| ~42
South Asia~ ~ ~ ~ | ~98| 100| 102| 151| 204| 234| ~89| ~ 1
East Asia ~ ~ ~ ~ | ~93| ~95| ~95| 339| 457| 534| ~68| ~22
Industrial~ ~ ~ ~ | 129| 127| 124| 428| 460| 525| ~27| ~63
Transition~ ~ ~ ~ | ~81| ~89| 100| 297| 317| 211| ~34| ~50

~ Cereal sector data (includes milled rice) (03B2) ~
- - - - - - - - - | Production ~ | Net trade
- - - - - - - - - |million tonnes|(million tonnes)
Year- - - - - - - |1979|1989|1997|1979|1989|1997
Range - - - - - - | -81| -91| -99| -81| -91| -99
World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |1442|1732|1889| ~ 3| ~ 4| ~ 9
Developing~ ~ ~ ~ | 649| 868|1026| -66| -89|-103
Sub-Saharan Africa| ~41| ~58| ~71| ~-8| ~-8| -14
Near East/N.Africa| ~58| ~77| ~83| -24| -39| -49
Latin Amer./Carib.| ~87| ~97| 125| ~-8| -12| -14
South Asia~ ~ ~ ~ | 147| 203| 239| ~-2| ~-3| ~-3
East Asia ~ ~ ~ ~ | 316| 433| 507| -24| -27| -23
Industrial count. | 551| 581| 652| 111| 130| 111
Transition count. | 242| 282| 210| -41| -37| ~ 1

~ Per-capita food supplies for direct human consumption (includes milled rice) (03B2)
- - - - - - - - - |Calories/ day | All cereals (kg./ year)
Year- - - - - - - |1969|1979|1989|1997|1969|1979|1989|1997
Range - - - - - - | -71| -81| -91| -99| -71| -81| -91| -99
World ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |2413|2552|2709|2803| 149| 160| 171| 171
Developing~ ~ ~ ~ |2113|2312|2525|2681| 146| 162| 174| 173
Sub-Saharan Africa|2108|2089|2109|2195| 116| 115| 119| 123
Near East/N.Africa|2371|2839|3024|3006| 177| 199| 212| 209
Latin Amer./Carib.|2475|2702|2699|2824| 119| 130| 131| 132
South Asia~ ~ ~ ~ |2067|2084|2334|2403| 151| 151| 165| 163
East Asia ~ ~ ~ ~ |2016|2321|2628|2921| 152| 181| 199| 199
Industrial~ ~ ~ ~ |3043|3135|3293|3380| 132| 139| 154| 159
Transition~ ~ ~ ~ |3323|3389|3285|2906| 201| 189| 179| 173

Researchers fear that farmers may not have enough water to grow the new crops or may be forced to use so much fertilizer on marginal land that they will poison ecosystems and permanently damage soils (99M1).

Ajtay (1979) estimates the NPP of the world's croplands at 15 Gt./ year (presumably dry weight) (86V1).

In 1950, the world's croplands averaged 0.23 ha/ person. By the mid-1990s cropland area was 0.13 ha/ capita (98H1).

About 0.5 ha/ capita of cropland is needed to provide a balanced plant/ animal diet for humans (91L4).

For 1990, 15 million km2/ 5.5 billion people = 0.27 ha/ capita is available (91L4).

World's population (1998): 5.9 billion, and growing by 80 million a year. The sixth billionth inhabitant will be born during 1999 (98H1).

Global demand for cereals is projected to increase by 40%, with 85% of the increase coming from developing countries. Meat demand is expected to increase by 58%, with 20% coming from developing countries, and demand for roots and tubers by 37%, with 97% of this increase coming from the developing world (00L1).

In 57 developing countries surveyed by the FAO in the early 1990s, over half of all farms were found to be smaller than one ha. - not enough to feed a family with 4-6 children (98H1).

In the early 1960s, most nations were self-sufficient in food; now only a few are (94K3).

World production of animal protein (seafood, pork, beef, poultry, eggs, aquaculture, cheese, mutton) is plotted vs. time (1950-1996) in Ref. (97B3).

A report "Footprints of Nations" by Mathis Wackernagel et al, Center for Sustainability Studies, Universidad Anahuac de Xalapa, Mexico compares the ecological impact of 52 large nations, inhabited by 80% of the world's population. It finds that humanity consumes resources and eco-services at a rate 1/3 larger than the natural regeneration rate. The 1992 deficit: 25%.

Agricultural productivity (in US$/ km2/ year) is plotted against latitude in Fig. 4(A) of Ref.(93H4). Productivity is shown to increase significantly with latitude. Root- or tuber production (kg/ km2/ year) is plotted against latitude in Fig. 4(B) of Ref. (93H4). Productivity at zero latitude is about 600 tonnes/ km2/ year; at 40 latitude it is about 2000 tonnes/ km2/ year (93H4). Comments: Something is wrong here. In the US Midwest, the average corn harvest is over 24,000 bushel/ km2/ year (over 600 tonnes of edible substance/ km2/ year). However Midwestern US soils are far better than average, even for temperate soils.

Food-production growth (2.5%/ year) exceeds population growth (1.9%/ year) and is mainly the result of cultivating land not cultivated before. A much smaller increase is the result of improved farm technology ((78B3), p. 112). Comments: The next chapter in this reference disputes this.

Cultivated-land/ capita (early 1970s) is tabulated for nations of the Mideast, south Asia, Southeast Asia and the Far East in Ref. (78W1), p. 65. E. g.: 0.08 ha/ capita in Egypt, 0.05 in Japan, 0.10 in N. Vietnam, 0.06 in Taiwan, and 0.07 in South Korea. Comments: To be meaningful, these figures need to be accompanied with data on food imports to these countries.

Data on crop area and production in 1961-76 in 31 nations are given in Ref. (80P3) for wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, rice, millet, sorghum and centrifugal raw sugar. World totals are also given (80P3).

Per-capita food production has grown by almost 25% since 1960; the number of people eating under 2100 calories/ day, a standard index of malnutrition, has fallen 75% (99M1).

U.S. arable land = 0.5 ha/ capita used for feeding each US citizen (76P2). Comments: Are exports being neglected here?

Available arable land/ capita (world-wide) = 0.36 ha. ((76P2), Ref. 5).

Cropland area/ capita: under 0.5 ha. for each of the Earth's 4 billion inhabitants (78B1). Comments: Fertilizer use, genetic improvements and large-scale irrigation have a lot to do with this - perhaps more so than cropland supply.

World Consumption of Protein from Livestock (in units of grams protein/ capita/ day) (85O1)
Year - |1951|1958|1962|1967|1973|1976|1979|1982
Protein| 17 | 20 | 22 | 23 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28

World Meat Production (kg/ capita/ year) (Ref. 6 of (94B4))
Year - - -|1950|1960|1970|1980|1985|1990|1993
Production| 19 | 23 | 27 | 30 | 32 | 32 | 32

(Ref. 7 of Ref. (94B4) gives world meat prod. vs. time for pork, beef, poultry and mutton.)

Growth in Global Per-capita Production of Grain, Seafood, Beef and Mutton (94B4)
Food - - - | Period |Growth| Period |Growth
Grain~ ~ ~ | 1950-84|+ 40% | 1984-93|-12%
Seafood~ ~ | 1950-88|+126% | 1988-93| ~9%
Beef/Mutton| 1950-72|+ 36% | 1972-93|-13%

World protein production (kg./ capita) (meat, soybeans, fish) is plotted vs. time (1950-1992) in Ref. (93B3).

Average caloric intake rose from 2063 to 2495 kcal/ person/ day during 1965-1990 in developing countries. Protein consumption increased from 52 grams/ capita/ day to 61 during 1965-1990 (94B5).

In 1990 a person in the developing world ate 2500 kcal/ day, from 4000 gross kcal. of food crops. The remaining 1500 kcal. were lost, inedible, or used as animal feed and plant seed. 95% was harvested from 7 million km2 of cropland, and 5% was imported (94B5).

To raise the average 3rd World diet to 6000 gross kcal/ day (slightly above the 1990 world average) would require increasing food production by 218% (112% for population growth) by 2050. To increase the diet to 10,000 gross kcal/ day (developed world standard) would require food production to grow 430% by 2050 (49B5). People eat 0.3 Gt./ year (dry weight) of non-grain plant material (86V1).

Meat consumed in France, the UK, West Germany, Italy, and the USSR increased 31% during 1960-70. Japanese meat-consumption increased 264% for the same period (77B1).

In the late 1970s, the world's livestock consumed 8710 trillion kcal. or 1.74 Gt. of useable dry (80% of wet weight) organic matter/ year -75% from pasture, 17% from grain, and 8.5% from other agricultural products (86V1).

The FAO (1983) estimates that 0.5 Gt./ year (dry weight) of grain + 0.15 Gt./ year of other agricultural products were fed to livestock globally in the early 1980s (86V1).

Some 17% of calories people consume (and 33% of protein) are derived from animal products (global) (FAO, 1983) (86V1).

About 5 billion people with a caloric intake of 2500 kcal/ person/ day translates to a consumption of 0.91 Gt. of organic material/ year (0.76 Gt./ year of vegetable matter + 0.15 Gt./ year of animal products) (86V1).

Between 1950-1975, world population grew 59% (1.5 billion). Harvested cereal acreage grew 21%, and yield/ ha. grew 63% ((78B2), p. 33).

Land- and energy resources are insufficient to feed the world's 4 billion people a US diet ((76P2), Ref. 8).

The average human requires fewer than 2,500 kcal/ day (0.7kg. of wheat, rice or corn/day) (= 913,000 kcal/ year = 0.256 tonnes grain/ year). In the US Midwest, the average corn harvest is over 24,000 bushel/ km2/ year (over 600 tonnes of edible substance/ km2/ year). I.e. 1 km2 of high quality farmland under US conditions can support 600/0.256 = 2400 people (76R1). Comments: The trick is getting animal protein - a process 10-20% as land-efficient as grain crops. Also, tropical soils are inherently far less productive.

10% of cropped area is devoted to non-food (cotton, tobacco, rubber, coffee, tea, jute, etc.). Another large fraction is devoted to food for livestock and poultry. These consume 5-10 times as much food energy as the energy contained in their edible products (76R1).

About 10-20% of all food grown is destroyed by pests (76R1). A smaller fraction is required for seed (76R1).

Robert W. Kates in The Hunger Report: 1988 noted that humans consume only 60% of all harvested crops. 25-30% is lost before reaching homes. The FAO estimates distribution losses of 6% for cereals, 11% for roots, and 5% for pulses (94B5).

Regional food production (total and per-capita) are plotted vs. time (1960-1988) for Africa, the Far East, Latin America, the Near East, North America, and West Europe in Ref. (92M2).

Food production in developed nations and developing nations is plotted vs. time (1961-1975). Food production/ capita is also plotted (76W1).

World soybean production (total and per-capita) are tabulated on p. 29 of Ref. (93B3). Soybean yield = 120 tonnes/ km2 (1950); (200 in 1992). Soybean area = 150,000 km2 (1950); 560,000 km2 (1992) (Ref. 11 of (93B3)).

Production of Selected Food Crops in 1988 (Table 6.1 of Ref. (90W1)) (1000 tonnes/ year.)





Veg/ Oils






Developing Countries










Far East





Latin America





Near East





Asian Cent. Planned





Developed Nations





North America





West. Europe










East. Europe / USSR





Comments: Table 6.1 of (90W1) also gives data for 1965, 1970, 1975, and 1983-1987. Data source: FAO Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, 2, (1989) pp. 19-23.

Vegetable-oil consumption (1994) (kg./ capita/ year) (95B2):
6 in China; 12 in Japan, 23 in the US.

Micronutrient deficiencies pose a vast global health problem. Vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency anemia and zinc deficiency increase the probability of early death for children and women, impair IQ development in children and lead to a large loss in quality of life, productivity and economic growth in developing countries. Iron deficiency anemia affects 70% of non-pregnant women in India and almost 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Vitamin A deficiency affects the immune system of about 40% of children under 5 years of age living in developing countries, and leads to approximately 1 million child deaths every year. In some countries the impact is more severe; in India almost 60% of preschool children suffer from vitamin A deficiency (

PART [Cb] ~ Specific Nations and Regions ~ [Cb1]~Africa, [Cb2]~China, [Cb3]~Asian Sub-Continent, [Cb4]~Southeast Asia, [Cb5]~Middle East, [Cb6]~Central America, [Cb7]~Soviet Union, [Cb8]~US, ~

Sub-Part [Cb1] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Africa ~
One encouraging response to this situation in Africa is the simultaneous planting of grain and leguminous trees. At first the trees grow slowly, permitting the grain crop to mature and be harvested; then the saplings grow quickly to several feet in height, dropping leaves that provide nitrogen and organic matter, both sorely needed in African soils. The wood is then cut and used for fuel. This simple, locally adapted technology, developed by scientists at the International Center for Research in Agro-forestry in Nairobi, has enabled farmers to double their grain yields within a matter of years as soil fertility builds. (
Lester R. Brown, "Earth Policy News - Rethinking Food Production for a World of Eight Billion," Earth Policy Institute, Plan B 3.0 Book Byte, 7/ 7/09.)

The latest (1994) of several genocides in Rwanda claimed over 900,000(?) people - 14% of Rwanda's population, the overwhelming majority of them Tutsis, but in northwestern Rwanda at least 5% of the residents were slaughtered even though there were no Tutsis. Rwanda contained 2040 people per square mile, twice the population density of the Netherlands (a nation that has far better soils, far more fertilizer and far greater ability to import food). The average Rwandan farmer worked 0.07 acre of land with agricultural practices not far removed from those of the Stone Age. By 1990, 40% of Rwanda's population was living on less than 1600 calories per day - famine level. A team of Belgian economists concluded that the outbreak of fighting "provided a unique opportunity to settle scores or reshuffle land properties, even among Hutus". It is not rare to hear Rwandans argue that the war was necessary to wipe out an excess population and bring numbers in line with the available land resources (04D1).

African agricultural production improved by 3.8% in 1986, but only 1.1% in 1987. Per-capita income fell 2% in 1986 and 2.2% in 1987, and today is lower than it was in 1980. All of North Africa, except Morocco, imports 50% or more of its grain (88U1) (Also see "State of the World 1990", p. 48). Food production/ capita has fallen nearly 20% since its 1967 high (88B5).

Per-capita grain production in Africa is down 12% since 1981, and down 22% since 1967 (90U3).

In 1970, Africa produced food equal to what it consumed; today Africa produces 80% of what it consumes (90C1). Comments: A combination of population growth and insufficient use of chemical fertilizer largely explains this.

In 1997 Africa produces 30% less food per-capita than in 1967 (97H1).

In areas of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Java, the base yield of cereals has been falling by 2-10%/ year for the past 10-20 years (92N1).

During 1954-1964, per-capita agricultural production declined over 20% in Algeria and Morocco, and about 5% in Tunisia. Ref. (70T1) cites Dumont (1966) for a list of obstacles to increasing agricultural production in these countries.

Sub-Part [Cb2] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ China ~
If the Chinese were to consume seafood at the Japanese per-capita rate, China would need the entire world's fish catch (95B2).

China's Meat Consumption (millions of tonnes/ year) (95B2)
Year - |1975|1980|1985|1990|1994
Pork ~ | ~7 | 11 | 16 | 22 | 30
Fish ~ | ~ ~|~ ~ | ~3 | 5.5| ~7
Poultry| ~ ~|~ ~ | ~2 | 3.5| ~5.5
Beef ~ | ~ ~|~ ~ | 0.5| ~1 | ~2
Mutton | ~ ~|~ ~ | ~ ~| ~1 | ~1

Sub-Part [Cb3] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Asian Sub-Continent ~
Madhya Pradesh (central India) uses 8.7 million tonnes of cow dung, 8.6 million tonnes of firewood, and 6.3 million tonnes of crop residues to provide cooking fuel for its 62 million people. Total fuel = 23.6 million tonnes/ year = 0.38 tonnes/ capita/ year. They eat 0.332 tonnes/ person/ year (90B2). (See Section (3-G-c).)

Ref. (70T1) gives a table of India's average crop yields in comparison with countries having the highest yields.

Nearly 60% of India's farms are smaller than one ha -not enough to feed a family with 4-6 children (98H1).

Sub-Part [Cb4] - Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Southeast Asia ~
In 1976 Indonesia was the worlds biggest rice importer. By 1983 it was growing enough rice to feed itself. The increase is attributed to irrigation (50%), fertilizers (20-30%), new hybrid seeds (10%) and pesticides (?) (90S1).

Crop yields in Thailand have shown a downward trend over the past 5 years, both in irrigated and rain-fed areas, because of soil degradation and poor management (88P3). Comments: This data may now be obsolete.

Sub-Part [Cb5] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Middle East ~
About 5% of Iran is cultivated at any one time. Iran became a net food importer in 1974 and, by 1977, 25% of all its food was imported at a cost of $2.6 billion/ year (85T1).

Sub-Part [Cb6] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Central America ~
The low average yields in Mexico of its basic food crop, maize (currently 2.4 tonnes/ ha), are largely attributable to agro-ecological constraints that render it unsuited for widespread use of the major yield-increasing technology, hybrid seeds, a technology which underlies the average 8.3 tonnes/ ha of the US. Hybrids are, at present, used in Mexico on 1.2 million ha, out of a total harvested area under maize of 7.0 million ha, while Mexico's area suitable for hybrid seed use is estimated to be 3 million ha ((99C1), p. 137-138) (

During 1964-1969, Mexico exported 4.9 million tonnes of corn, 1.6 million tonnes of wheat, and 308,000 tonnes of beans. During 1950-1970, Mexican wheat production increased from 273,000 tonnes/ year to 2.36 million tonnes/ year. Yields went from 75 to 320 tonnes/ km2 (76W2).

Sub-Part [Cb7] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ Soviet Union ~
In 1997, 31.7 million cattle (including 14.6 million cows), 17.3 million pigs, and 19.3 million sheep and goats were bred in all types of Russia's farms (
03Z1). Production was: meat - 5 million tonnes, milk - 34 million tonnes, and eggs - 32 billion eggs (03Z1).

Agriculture accounts for 20% of the former USSR's GNP, and employs over 25% of its labor force (89S3).

Sub-Part [Cb8] ~ Miscellaneous Food Supply Issues ~ US ~
One fifth of the U.S. grain harvest is now being turned into fuel ethanol (
Lester R. Brown, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Earth Policy Institute (2009) Complete data sets are available on-line at www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/data.htm. ).

What American consumers and government agencies have studiously failed to scrutinize is how much melamine has pervaded the US food system. Melamine is also integral to the material life of any industrialized society. It's a common ingredient in cleaning products, waterproof plywood, plastic compounds, cement, ink and fire-retardant paint. Chemical plants throughout the US produce millions of pounds of melamine a year. Given the pervasiveness of melamine, it's always possible that trace elements will end up in food. The F.D.A. thus sets the legal limit for melamine in food at 2.5 parts per million. This amount is indeed minuscule, that poses no real threat to public health. Moreover, the 2.5 p.p.m. figure is calculated for a person weighing 132 pounds, a cautious benchmark given that the average adult weighs 150-180 pounds. But these figures obscure more than they reveal. First, while adults eat about one-fortieth of their weight every day, toddlers consume closer to one-tenth. Although scientists haven't measured the differential impact of melamine on infants versus adults, it's likely that this intensified ratio would at least double (if not quadruple) the impact of legal levels of melamine on toddlers. This doubled exposure might not land a child in the hospital, but it could certainly contribute to the long-term kidney and liver problems that we know are caused by chronic exposure to melamine.(Continued.)

Fertilizer companies commonly add melamine to their products because it helps control the rate at which nitrogen seeps into soil, thereby allowing the farmer to get more nutrient bang for the fertilizer buck. But the US government doesn't regulate how much melamine is applied to the soil. This melamine accumulates as salt crystals in the ground, tainting the soil through which American food sucks up American nutrients.(Continued.)

Chinese eggs seized last month in Hong Kong, for instance, contained elevated levels of melamine because of the melamine-laden wheat gluten used in the feed for the chickens that produced the eggs. More ominous, the US imports most of its wheat gluten. In 2007, the F.D.A. reported that millions of Americans had eaten chicken fattened on feed with melamine-tainted gluten imported from China. Around the same time, Tyson Foods slaughtered and processed hogs that had eaten melamine-contaminated feed. The government decided not to recall the pork. Only a week earlier, however, the F.D.A. had announced that thousands of cats and dogs had died from melamine-laden pet food. This high-profile pet scandal did not prove to be a spur to reform so much as a red herring. Our attention was diverted to Fido and away from the animals we happen to kill and eat rather than spoil. Regulations might be lax when it comes to animal feed and fertilizer in China, but take a closer look at similar regulations in the US and it becomes clear that they're vague enough to allow US industries to "recycle" much of their waste into fertilizer and other products that form the basis of our domestic food supply. As a result, toxic chemicals routinely enter our US agricultural system. (James E. McWilliams (a history professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, is the author of "American Pests: The Losing War on Insects From Colonial Times to DDT.") "Our Home-Grown Melamine Problem," New York Times (11/17/08).)

US farmers will harvest 284 million acres in 1988 - 3% less than 1987 and 67 million acres less that in the peak year of 1981. US farmers will abandon 14 million acres due to crop failures (vs. 64 million acres in 1934) (88I1).

Some 78.6 million acres were taken out of production in 1988 -54 million under government set-aside and other land-idling programs and 24.4 million under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for highly erodible land. The previous record (1983) was 77.8 million acres (88I1).

Tables 2-1 and 2-2 of Ref. (83C1) give average yields/ acre (and annual changes in these yields) of key crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton) in the US during 1930-80. The main effect seen is that of increased fertilizer use. Average US crop production/ acre during 1950-1980 is plotted on p. 30 of (82W1) (USDA data).

The American diet requires a minimum of 5300 km2/ million people; about 6900 km2/ million people are available now (97P1). Feeding Americans requires 400 gallons of oil/ year/ capita - 17% of US consumption (97P1).

Hawaii's Sugar Production (tonnes/ km2/ year) (86P3)
Year | 1908| 1928| 1948| 1968| 1984
Yield| 1123| 1347| 1860| 2250| 2690

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