Around the world, farmers are growing tonnes of crops every day. Indeed, the net worth of the agricultural sector runs into trillions of dollars. 12% of all the land on the Earth is agricultural, the equivalent of 40,000,000,000 football fields. The crops grown on this land make up 82% of the world’s calorie intake and 63% of the protein needs, and the importance of plant-based foods is unknown.

The global picture

Cereal crops top the leader board in terms of volume grown. Nearly 3 billion tonnes of cereal are grown across the globe each year. Next in line comes sugar crops with over 2 billion tonnes and vegetable and oil crops coming a close third and fourth.

Across the globe, sugarcane is the crop most produced by volume and is an important harvest for Brazil, India, Thailand, China, and Pakistan. Next in line is maize, also known as corn, and the US dominates this sector. China leads the way in rice, wheat, and potatoes, which are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the most produced crops around the globe.

It is the likes of these crops that the world relies on to keep the population fed. Wheat, maize, and rice are essential to prevent shortages, as they make up 50% of all calories taken in.

Continent by Continent

Due mostly to the differing climates, the crops grown in different continents vary significantly. While Australia might specialise in sugarcane growth due to its hot weather, other countries, such as South-East Asia, do better with rice thanks to heavy rain.

In Europe, with its unpredictable weather, crop production is focused on reliable and hardy wheat. Even though this is the UK’s largest crop by far, they are nowhere near the largest producers, with Russia, France, Ukraine, Germany and Romania outpacing us. The export value of wheat from Russia is some USD 6.4 billion. While most countries in Europe specialise in cereal crops, Greece’s relies on oil crops, Portugal on tomatoes, and Belarus, Iceland and the Faroe Islands on potatoes.

Oceania, which includes Australia, produces AUD 2 billion of sugarcane exports every year, serving the world’s very sweet tooth. True to the stereotype, the most prevalent crop in New Zealand is the kiwi fruit. The oceanic countries are also known for their oil crops, vegetables, and coconuts. 

Africa is the largest continent in the world and has a varied crop production. In Nigeria, for instance, cassava is the largest crop. Cassava is a root vegetable like the potation in the way you eat it but is also commonly ground into flour. Africa is also the continent of sugarcane, yams and potatoes.

America, specifically the US, produces the largest amount of maize in the world. However, the most successful crop comes from Brazil – with sugarcane worth an export value of $6.4 billion to their economy. The Americas are also essential to our sugar cane, bananas, wheat, rice and more.

Asia again produces a lot of sugarcane, as it is worth USD 1.8 billion to the Indian economy. However, in China, it is maize that dominates, and in Indonesia, it is oil crops. It is also the continent that brings most of the rice production in the world. They also produce some foods more vital to a nutrient-rich diet, with fruit, vegetables, and date production high in Asia.

Vast amounts

When you look at the tonnes and tonnes of crops produced around the world, it is hard to grasp the extent of the production needed to feed the world. For instance, how can the world need 40516180 tonnes of sugar cane from India while needing a further 32415352 from Australia? Then, there is the contribution from small countries such as Morocco who still produce more than 4 million tonnes of sugar cane a year. Do we really have such a sweet tooth?

Then, you look at bananas, and the numbers might not be as spectacular, but it is incredible still to consider the amount of one fruit we consume. In Grenada, Dominica, and Saint Lucia, more than 50 thousand tonnes of bananas are grown and exported each year.

In Africa, the numbers for the amount of cassava grown are astonishing, showing the importance of high-calorie carbs in the everyday diet of the population on this continent. In the Congo alone, there are 40050112 tonnes grown, only a little less than Nigeria, and Ghana produces a further 22447635 tonnes. It is hard to wrap your mind around the demand for this staple food.

Published on Holr Magazine