Increasing global food production

Enhancing world food production

From 1961 to 1994 global production of food doubled. Global output of grain rose from about 630 million tons in 1950 to about 1.8 billion tons in 1992, largely as a result of greater yields. Developing countries from 1974 to 1994 increased wheat yields per acre by almost 100 percent, corn yields by 72 percent, and rice yields by 52 percent. The Worldwatch Institute reported that the generation of farmers on the land in 1950 was the first in history to double the production of food: "By 1984, they had outstripped population growth enough to raise per capita grain output an unprecedented 40 percent.

Overall there was a substantial reduction in global food production in 1993 compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, developing and low-income food-deficit (LIFD) countries increased estimated production of staple foods by nearly 2 million and 3 million tonnes respectively. Wheat supplies gained marginally, up to 709 million tonnes. Asia registered the only significant increase in wheat production where the harvest included above-average to record crops. Roots and tubers, which rank second to cereals in importance as staple foods, have continued to grow in importance as sources of energy intake for many developing countries. Their global production was up by 2% (almost 4% in LIFD) in 1993, reaching 150 million tonnes in grain equivalent. Among the roots and tubers, cassava showed the greatest growth in production, by 7% compared with 1992. In particular, record cassava harvests were recorded in Nigeria following a significant increase in plantings and continued adoption of pest resistant, high-yielding varieties. In Africa, harvests of yams and other minor roots and tubers increased. In 1993, world production of pulses, the most important high-protein staples for food security, increased nearly 4% over the previous year, to reach almost 58 million tonnes. Most of this gain was accounted for by Asia. In the same year, milk production increased slightly in the developing countries. India, as the largest milk producer in the developing world, increased its production by 4% from 1992 to 1993. Over the same period, world meat production grew by just 1%, and the global output of fats and oils increased by 2% to 87 million tonnes, including an estimated 6% in the developing countries. This includes significant increases in the Brazilian soybean harvest, Indian groundnut crops, and Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil.


Real food prices have been falling steadily in the face of increased demand, and output per hectare has been increasing in advanced countries despite the use of irrigation, artificial fertilizers and biocides which can degrade soil productivity over time. Assuming world population levels out below 20 billion, and better practices are introduced to conserve soil, adequate food production should not be a problem. However, it should be noted that most farmers in developing countries currently lack the resources to improve soil conservation.


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World Health Organization
International Cooperative Agricultural Organization
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
International Relief Friendship Foundation
Arab Company for Agriculture and Food Production
Association for Environmental Conservation and Integrated Food Production for the Amazon (GAIA)
Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes of the UN/FAO World Food Programme
Consultative Group on Food Production and Investment (CGFPI)
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center
EcoAgriculture Partners
Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First)
Agri-Food Chain Coalition (AFCC)
Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)
Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust)
Groundswell International
Heifer International
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
IFOAM - Organics International (IFOAM)
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
La Via Campesina
Oxfam International
Pesticide Action Network (PAN)
International Network of Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (RUAF Foundation)
International Movement for the Defence of and the Right to Pleasure (Slow Food)
Sustainable Food Trust (SFT)
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD)
Type Classification:
B: Basic universal strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions