Nowadays we take for granted how the world agricultural productivity has improved over the past couple of decades. Today’s farms produce more maize, wheat, soybeans, etc. per hectare than any other time in history. This has been made possible by, amongst other interventions, the use of improved seeds, fertilizers, and better farming skills in most regions of the world.

The growth in agricultural productivity and production have not only meant that there have been savings in area plantings (see here) as farmers produce all the world needs in a relatively small area because of higher yields than it would have been the case had yields not improved much since the 1920s; it also had implications for food security as commodities prices softened over time. There is no better chart to illustrate the agricultural commodities price trend over time than Exhibit 1 below.

This is adapted from a research article by agricultural economists Julian M. Alston and Philip G. Pardey, published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2014.

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Exhibit 1


Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za

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