"Agriculture and the Green Economy"

Farming First's infographic
(view original)
Farming First, a coalition group promoting sustainable agricultural development, recently released a 6-part infographic on "Agriculture and the Green Economy." The infographic aggregates interesting and sometimes surprising statistics regarding agriculture, and weaves a sort of "story" about the importance of the sector for worldwide poverty alleviation, economic growth, and environmental health. It offers short, tweet-ready statements (e.g., "Growth in Africa is the most powerful force for reducing poverty"), as well as accompanying embedable charts and graphs, to enable readers/users to easily spread the word. 
Some of the "fun facts" include:
  • To feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050 will require a 70 percent increase in global food production.
  • Of the 1.4 billion people living in poverty, 1.0 billion live in rural areas. Geographically, the lion's share of the extreme poor (living on less than $1.25/day) live in Sub-Saharan Africa (61.6%) and South Asia (25.6%). 
  • Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of water consumption, 17-30% of GHG emissions (17% from agriculture, 13% from deforestation, which is often associated with agricultural expansion), covers 34.3% of land area, and employs 37.3% of the labor force.
  • 41% of total farmers worldwide are women. In two regions, that number is higher: Sub-Saharan Africa (64.3%) and South Asia (64.5%).



  • Foreign aid going towards agriculture has declined in the last three decades, from over $12 billion (constant 2007 USD), or 22.2% of aid, in 1982-1984, to about $6 billion, or 5.9% of aid, in 2006-2008. In agriculture-based countries, transforming countries, and urbanized countries alike, domestic government spending on agriculture has also fallen. 
  • In China, increases in investment in agricultural R&D (from 3.2% annual growth in investments, to 8.5% in 1998-2007) are correlated with an accompanying increase in Chinese cereal yield (increasing 2.3% over 1980-2007). The infographic tells us: "For China, aggregate growth originating in agriculture is estimated to have been 2.5 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth outside agriculture."
  • According to ODI, the greatest poverty reduction potential  is in improving agricultural labor productivity, ranked above health expenditure per capita, fixed investments, and the public sector.
  • Unabated climate change could cost the world at least 5% of GDP each year, with farmers ranking among the most vulnerable."
  • Every dollar invested in agriculture results in 68 kg C fewer emissions. Crop yield improvement has saved 34% of total human carbon emission. 

See the full infrographic story here. Also of interest may be Farming First's Guide to Food Security Initiatives, which includes CCAFS as one of several global programs tackling this issue.