Preliminary land degradation assessments indicate that, unless conservation measures are introduced on all cultivable land, 544 million hectares of potentially productive rainfed cropland - more than one-sixth of the total - could be lost.
On the basis of movement of surplus potential food production within countries, 55 countries (out of a total of 117 studied) have insufficient land resources to meet the food needs of their 1975 population with low level of inputs. The number of critical countries would rise to 65 by the year 2000. Of these critical countries, for the year 2000, 29 would need to raise their inputs to at least intermediate level, on all their potentially cultivable land, if they are to meet food requirements from their own land resources. A further 17 would need to raise inputs to the high level to attain food self-sufficiency. 19 countries will be unable to meet their food needs, from national land resources, even with high level of inputs.
In evaluating output increases or decreases accompanying land reform, the influence of farm price levels on investments and output cannot be disputed: the level of product prices influences the amount produced. Farmers may shift from one crop to another, or may decrease the use of inputs given lower farm product prices (or anticipated lower prices). Land tenure arrangements influence farmer response to changing prices. An FAO (1963) study concludes that price response was usually greater among owner-operators than among tenants. Tenants paying a fixed rent were likely to benefit more from price incentives and therefore to show a greater response to price changes than sharecroppers. Producer price policies were therefore generally more successful where they had been preceded by land reform measures. Therefore perhaps more important than prices per se, under most circumstances of agricultural development in the world today, is the incentive structure provided by the tenure system.