FAO: Ag employs 27% of world’s workers, generates 4% of GDP
January 12, 2021
Agriculture employed a quarter of the world’s workers in 2019. The share of the world’s workers employed in agriculture fell from 1.1 billion or 40 percent of 2.6 billion workers in 2000 to 884 million or 27 percent of 3.3 billion workers in 2019.
Agriculture’s share of world employment fell from 40% to 27% between 2000 and 2019
Despite the exit of 169 million Chinese from agriculture over the past two decades, and the exit of 25 million Indians, China and India each have about 200 million people employed in agriculture. There are 225 million people employed in African agriculture, half of the continent’s employment.
Asia had 68% of global ag employment in 2019, and Africa 25%
Women were 37 percent of those employed in agriculture globally, but over 50 percent of those employed in agriculture in many African countries.
Women were 37% of people employed in ag globally, but over 50% in some countries
The value added by agriculture, forestry, and fisheries was $3.4 trillion or four percent of the world’s $85 trillion GDP in 2018. By continent, value added in agriculture was $2.2 trillion in Asia, $480 billion in the Americas, $397 billion in Africa, $328 billion in Europe, and $45 billion in Oceania. The share of value added contributed by agriculture to GDP fell in Asia over the past two decades as nonfarm economies expanded, but rose in Africa.
Ag’s value added is the highest share of GDP in Africa and Asia
Value-added subtracts the value of purchased farm inputs from farm cash receipts, so the gap between farm cash receipts and value added is smaller in developing countries where farmers purchase fewer seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers. China accounted for $1.1 trillion in agricultural value added, India $400 billion, and the US $184 billion.
The Big 4 crops, sugar cane (21 percent of the Big 4 crop tonnage), corn or maize (13 percent), rice (nine percent), and wheat (eight percent) accounted for half of the 9.1 billion tons of primary crops in 2018. Fruits and vegetables were about 20 percent of global crop production in 2018.
Sugar cane, corn, wheat, and rice accounted for half of primary crop production in 2018
Many countries produce the Big 4 crops, but the top three countries account for half or more of the total production of sugarcane, corn, rice, and soybeans. Brazil was the top producer of sugar cane (40 percent of global tonnage), the US of corn and soybeans (35 percent), and China led in rice (25 percent).
The top 3 countries accounted for over half of the production of each of the Big 4 crops
World meat production was 342 million tons or about 90 pounds per person in 2018. About 90 percent of this meat was pork (35 percent), chicken (33 percent), and beef (20 percent). China is the leading producer of pork, while the US leads in chicken and beef production, followed closely by Brazil.
China is the leading producer of pork, and the US is the leading producer of beef and chicken
World milk production was 843 million tons in 2018, led by India with 22 percent of the total and the US with 12 percent. China produced 35 percent of the world’s 77 million tons of eggs in 2018.
World fish production totaled 180 million tons worth $400 billion in 2018, including 54 percent wild or caught fish and 46 percent farmed fish. China was the leading producer of both caught and farmed fish.
China accounts for over a third of fish production, including over half of farmed fish
Some $1.4 trillion worth of farm goods were traded over national borders in 2018, over 40 percent of the total value of farm production and up sharply from $380 billion in 2000. Fruits and vegetables represented 23 percent of trade in farm commodities, followed by cereals, 14 percent, and fish and meat, each 11 percent.
Fruits and vegetables accounted for a quarter of world food exports in 2018
The Americas, Oceania, and Europe are net food exporters, while Africa and Asia are net food importers. The US accounted for nine percent of the world’s farm exports, followed by the Netherlands and China, six percent each.
The Americas are net exporters of fruits and vegetables, while Asia and Europe are net importers
Some 690 million people were considered undernourished in 2019, with 55 percent in Asia. However, Africa had the highest rate of undernourishment at 19 percent in 2019, almost double the less than 10 percent undernourishment rate of other continents.
Some 690 million people were undernourished in 2019, including almost 20% of Africans
World agriculture produced 2,900 calories per person per day in 2019, but food supplies varied by continent. People in North America and Europe had 3,500 calories per day available, Asians 2,800, and Africans 2,500 calories per day.
Europeans and Americans have the most calories per person per day available
Some 13 percent of the world’s adults (18 and older) were obese in 2016, including over a quarter of adults in Europe and North America. Rates of obesity are rising everywhere.
A quarter of adults in Europe and North America were obese in 2016
The share of adults who are obese is highest in Pacific Islands and the Middle East. In some of 20 most obese countries, there is both child undernourishment and adult obesity. In Egypt, for example, a quarter of children are undernourished and a third of adults are obese.
Half or more of adults are obese in some Pacific Islands
SDG target 12.3 aims to reduce food losses between farms and consumers. The FAO estimated that 14 percent of the food produced in 2016 was lost, including a quarter of the root and tuber crops such as cassava and potatoes and over 20 percent of the fruits and vegetables that were harvested.
Over a fifth of fruits and vegetables are lost between farms and consumers
|Antigua and Barbuda|
|Bolivia (Plurinational State of)||1,403||1,603||1,385||1,549||1,330||1,455||1,555||1,688||1,700|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||244||201||205||172||173||180||178||169||164|
The FAO was created in 1945. Its statistical yearbook includes sections on economics, production, food security, and the environment. Annex Table 8 includes employment in agriculture by continent and country.