Grain Production Continues Growth After Mixed Decade

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For the second year in a row, world grain production rose in 2008, with farmers producing some 2.3 billion tons. The record harvest was up more than 7 percent over the previous year and caps a decade in which only half the years registered gains.

According to the latest Vital Signs Update on grain production:

  • Farmers in Asia led grain production in 2008, growing 42 percent of the world total (969 million tons), of which some 43 percent was rice (milled equivalent). The Americas were the next largest growing region, with maize as the prominent crop, followed by Europe, which grew a significant amount of wheat.
  • Grain production destined for biofuels continues to grow, topping more than 5 percent in 2008, at 120 million tons. This marks a nearly 10-percent increase over the previous year, but a slower rate than the 25 percent experienced the year before.
  • Today, only 150 crops are cultivated, a sharp drop from the 10,000 used over time, and three grains-maize, rice, and wheat-combined with potatoes provide more than 50 percent of human energy needs.

This new grain production update includes the latest figures on grain production globally and by region.

Read the Vital Signs analysis, "Grain Production Continues Growth After Mixed Decade," by Alice McKeown.