Posts Tagged ‘growth’


Agricultural Population Growth Marginal as Nonagricultural Population Soars

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The global agricultural population—defined as individuals dependent on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry for their livelihood—accounted for over 37 percent of the world’s total population in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. This is a decrease of 12 percent from 1980, when the world’s agricultural and nonagricultural populations were roughly the same size. Although the agricultural population shrunk as a share of total population between 1980 and 2011, it grew numerically from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people during this period.

The world’s agricultural population grew from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people between 1980 and 2011. (Photo Credit: UNDP)

Between 1980 and 2011, the nonagricultural population grew by a staggering 94 percent, from 2.2 billion to 4.4 billion people—a rate approximately five times greater than that of agricultural population growth. In both cases growth was driven by the massive increase in the world’s total population, which more than doubled between 1961 and 2011, from 3.1 billion to 7 billion people.

It should be noted that the distinction between these population groups is not the same as the rural-urban divide. Rural populations are not exclusively agricultural, nor are urban populations exclusively nonagricultural. The rural population of Africa in 2011 was 622.8 million, for instance, while the agricultural population was 520.3 million.

Although the agricultural population grew worldwide between 1980 and 2011, growth was restricted to Africa, Asia, and Oceania. During this period, this population group declined in North, Central, and South America, in the Caribbean, and in Europe.

In 2011, Africa and Asia accounted for about 95 percent of the world’s agricultural population. In contrast, the agricultural population in the Americas accounted for a little less than 4 percent. Especially in the United States, this is the result of the development and use of new and innovative technologies as well as the increased use of farm machinery, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation systems that require less manual labor.



Where Cultivation Meets Conflict: Rebuilding Liberian Farms in the Aftermath of War

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By Abisola Adek0ya

This is the final in a three part series on farming in conflict zones. To read the first and second part of this series, see: Where Cultivation Meets Conflict: Farming in Sudan’s War-Torn Darfur Region and Where Cultivation Meets Conflict: Farming in the Niger Delta.

After fourteen years of bloody civil war from1989 to 2003, Liberia has struggled to overcome aftermath of conflict. Some 10 percent of the population, 3 million people, was killed, and most of the country’s physical infrastructure, including roads and bridges, was destroyed. Food production also suffered.

After 14 years of bitter civil war, Liberian farmers are finally starting to rebound (Photo Source: UN Photo/Tortoli).

According to the World Food Program, 39 percent of Liberian children under the age of five are stunted, and 27 percent are underweight as a result of food shortages. More than 40 percent of people are malnourished in more than half of the nation’s counties, while between 30-40 percent of people are malnourished in the remaining six counties.

For farmers like Lincoln Yeneken, low productivity, limited access to tools and seed, crop pests, and an inadequate road network, are major obstacles to agricultural development. In an interview with, Yeneken said, “within the next five years I would like to plant coffee and rubber but I need tools and help to rebuild,” as he pointed to the frames of the simple huts and granary for the rice he is now putting up. Yeneken’s modest but productive subsistence farm and traps for bush meat are already doing relatively well, producing enough rice, cassava, plantain, and eddoes to feed his family and pay for his children’s school fees. But during the rainy season, his fields turn into swamp lands, dramatically raising the incidence of malaria infections and making it all but impossible to raise enough food. (more…)