World agricultural boom

Date posted: April 3, 2014

Host Mary Walden says, the United States has always been known as a rich agricultural country with good land and growing conditions and smart farmers. She asks her husband, N.C. State economist Mike Walden, have these attributes of farming spread to the rest of the world?

Mike Walden: “They really have Mary, and this has perhaps been an untold story. If you look at world agricultural production over the last 50 years, in the world, that’s gone up 200 percent. A lot of that is due to increased agricultural productivity — that is farmers being able to produce more per acre. And the U.S. has long been a leader in that, and we have seen our agricultural productivity continue to go up over that 50-year period.

“But what we’ve also seen, and this has been somewhat recent, is that those improvements in agricultural productivity have spread around the world. We’re seeing big improvements for farmers in terms of productivity in Asia and in Africa. And what this has meant, Mary, is that with that 200 percent increase in agricultural output, that increase is much bigger than the increase over the same period of time and population.

“So, we’re actually producing more food per person now than ever before, and you do look at some of the statistics in the world, and you see reductions in hunger and gains in nutrition. Again, I think this is all due to the world agricultural boom.”

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