Views On Food Production: Towards A New Green Revolution

History tells that human beings began relying on food produced from crop cultivation about 10,000 years ago. Since then food production has increased through the expansion of farming areas and productivity increases of crops and livestock. As long as human populations were small, increased demands for food could be met by clearing new land. The agricultural frontier, however, gradually disappeared as human population grew and in turn productivity growth came to a major source of production increase. This trend was accelerated in recent past especially during the last half a century. As seen in the figure 1, world agricultural land has expanded only by 10 % while its average cereal yields have more than twofold between 1961 and 1999. Productivity growth was the major force that enabled to improve average food intake per capita despite the growing world populations.

Behind these productivity increases is significant technological progress related to improved seed, farm inputs and irrigation. Application of technological packages as well as increased inputs have allowed the yield potential of major cereals to be realized more fully by farmers in developing countries. It is well represented by the so-called Green Revolution, which took place in the late 1960s and the 1970s mostly in Asia. The Green Revolution was very successful in raising cereal production and feeding the most populous region of the world. Resulting lower food prices relieved poor consumers and contributed to the economic growth.

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Author(s): Tsubota, Kunio


Organizations(s): FAO, Rome