The production of food has undergone radical changes since the Green Revolution began in the 1940s. The development of high-yielding varieties of maize, wheat, and rice, combined with increased application of irrigation and fertilization, boosted yields on agricultural land. Indeed, the available data from FAO indicates that food production5 increased 2.3 times between 1961 and 2000 (Figure 2.7), faster than the growth in population of 2.0 times. During this same period, cropland area increased by only 12% and harvested area by 21% (because of the increase in multiple cropping); however, irrigated area doubled and fertilizer consumption increased by 3.3 times. Clearly, food production over the last fi fty years has been dominated by an increase in intensification (yields) rather than expansion of land devoted to production (harvested area).
Food production statistics used in this paper include the production of cereals, roots and tubers, pulses, oil crops, treenuts, fruits, and vegetables.
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