Page 161



Agricultural inputs About the data Agriculture is still a major sector in many economies,

land as share of total agricultural land area and data

(July–June). Previous editions of World Development

and agricultural activities provide developing coun-

on average precipitation to illustrate how countries

Indicators reported data on a crop year basis, but

tries with food and revenue. But agricultural activi-

obtain water for agricultural use.

this edition uses the calendar year, as adopted by the FAO. Caution should thus be used when compar-

ties also can degrade natural resources. Poor farming

The data here and in table 3.3 are collected by

practices can cause soil erosion and loss of soil fertil-

the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United

ity. Efforts to increase productivity by using chemical

Nations (FAO) through annual questionnaires. The

fertilizers, pesticides, and intensive irrigation have

FAO tries to impose standard definitions and report-

environmental costs and health impacts. Excessive

ing methods, but complete consistency across

• Agricultural land is permanent pastures, arable,

use of chemical fertilizers can alter the chemistry of

countries and over time is not possible. Thus, data

and land under permanent crops. Permanent pasture

soil. Pesticide poisoning is common in developing

on agricultural land in different climates may not

is land used for five or more years for forage, includ-

countries. And salinization of irrigated land dimin-

be comparable. For example, permanent pastures

ing natural and cultivated crops. Arable land includes

ishes soil fertility. Thus, inappropriate use of inputs

are quite different in nature and intensity in African

land defined by the FAO as land under temporary

for agricultural production has far-reaching effects.

countries and dry Middle Eastern countries. Data

crops (double-cropped areas are counted once),

ing data over time. Definitions

The table provides indicators of major inputs to

on agricul-tural employment, in particular, should

temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land

agricultural production: land, fertilizer, labor, and

be used with caution. In many countries much agri-

under market or kitchen gardens, and land tempo-

machinery. There is no single correct mix of inputs:

cultural employment is informal and unrecorded,

rarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shift-

appropriate levels and application rates vary by coun-

including substantial work performed by women

ing cultivation is excluded. Land under permanent

try and over time and depend on the type of crops, the

and children. To address some of these concerns,

crops is land cultivated with crops that occupy the

climate and soils, and the production process used.

this indicator is heavily footnoted in the database in

land for long periods and need not be replanted after

sources, definition, and coverage.

each harvest, such as cocoa, coffee, and rubber.

The agriculture sector is the most water-intensive sector, and water delivery in agriculture is increas-

Fertilizer consumption measures the quantity of

Land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees,

ingly important. The table shows irrigated agricultural

plant nutrients. Consumption is calculated as pro-

and vines is included, but land under trees grown

duction plus imports minus exports. Because some

for wood or timber is not. • Irrigated land refers to

chemical compounds used for fertilizers have other

areas purposely provided with water, including land

industrial applications, the consumption data may

irrigated by controlled flooding. • Average annual

overstate the quantity available for crops. Fertilizer

precipitation is the long-term average in depth

consumption as a share of production shows the

(over space and time) of annual precipitation in the

agriculture sector’s vulnerability to import and energy

country. Precipitation is defined as any kind of water

price fluctuation. The FAO recently revised the time

that falls from clouds as a liquid or a solid. • Land

series for fertilizer consumption and irrigation for

under cereal production refers to harvested areas,

2002 onward, but recent data are not available for

although some countries report only sown or culti-

all countries. FAO collects fertilizer statistics for pro-

vated area. • Fertilizer consumption is the quantity

duction, imports, exports, and consumption through

of plant nutrients applied to arable land. Fertilizer

the new FAO fertilizer resources questionnaire. In

products cover nitrogen, potash, and phosphate

the previous release, the data were based on total

fertilizers (including ground rock phosphate). Tradi-

consumption of fertilizers, but the data in the recent

tional nutrients—animal and plant manures—are

release are based on the nutrients in fertilizers.

not included. • Fertilizer production is fertilizer

Some countries compile fertilizer data on a calendar

consumption, exports, and nonfertilizer use of fertil-

year basis, while others do so on a crop year basis

izer products minus fertilizer imports. • Agricultural

Nearly 40 percent of land globally is devoted to agriculture


Total land area in 2008: 130 million sq. km

Permanent pastures 26%

Other 31%

Arable land 11% Forests 31% Permanent crops 1% Note: Agricultural land includes permanent pastures, arable land, and land under permanent crops. Source: Tables 3.1 and 3.2.

employment is employment in agriculture, forestry,

Rainfed agriculture plays a significant role in Sub-Saharan agriculture where about 95 percent of cropland depends on precipitation, 2008


hunting, and fishing (see table 2.3). • Agricultural machinery refers to wheel and crawler tractors (excluding garden tractors) in use in agriculture at

Sierra Leone Liberia Mauritius Gabon Guinea Congo, Rep. Cameroon Guinea-Bissau Congo, Dem. Rep. Madagascar

the end of the calendar year specified or during the first quarter of the following year.

Data sources 0





Average annual precipitation (millimeters per year) Source: Table 3.2.



Data on agricultural inputs are from electronic files that the FAO makes available to the World Bank and from the FAO web site (

2011 World Development Indicators


World Development Indicators 2011 Part 1 of 2  

Looking for accurate, up-to-date data on development issues? 'World Development Indicators' is the World Bank's premier annual compilation o...