Asian Agriculture: 12 Things to Know

Feature | 9 May 2012

With rising populations, increasing food prices and environmental concerns, Asia's agricultural sector faces a raft of challenges.

  1. More than 2.2 billion people in the region rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
    Source: ADB, Building Climate Resilience in the Agriculture Sector of Asia and the Pacific
  2. Rice is by far the most important crop throughout Asia - 90% of the world's production and consumption occurs in this region.
    Source: ADB, Regional Trade Opportunities for Agriculture
  3. With trends showing that rice consumption decreases as income rises, many economists have claimed rice is an inferior good.
    Source: ADB, Regional Trade Opportunities for Agriculture
  4. Despite forecasts of famine and starvation, most Asian countries became food self-sufficient in the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to the Green Revolution.
    Source: ADB, Revitalizing Asia's Irrigation: To sustainably meet tomorrow's food needs
  5. The stagnant and declining yields of major crops such as rice and wheat can be ultimately linked to declining investments in agriculture. Public investments in agriculture in India, for instance, have been generally the same since 2004.
    Source: ADB, Food Price Escalation in South Asia - A Serious and Growing Concern
  6. In 2011, it was estimated biotech crops were grown on 160 million hectares of land - making it the fastest adopted crop technology.
    Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011
  7. Three of the top ten countries planting biotech crops in 2011 were in Asia. India grew more than 10.6 million hectares of cotton, the People's Republic of China planted 3.9 million hectares of cotton, papaya, poplar, tomato and sweet pepper while Pakistan farmed 2.6 million hectares of cotton.
    Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech, Applications Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011
  8. Asia and the Pacific accounts for 37% of the world's total emissions from agricultural production, and the People's Republic of China alone accounts for more than 18% of the total.
    Source: ADB, Building Climate Resilience in the Agriculture Sector of Asia and the Pacific
  9. In most Asian countries, agriculture is the biggest user of water and can reach up to 90% of total water consumption.
    Source: ADB, Water Rights and Water Allocation: Issues and Challenges for Asia
  10. Food and feed crop demand will nearly double in the coming 50 years. Producing meat, milk, sugar, oils, and vegetables typically requires more water than producing cereals - and a different style of water management.
    Source: International Water Management Institute, Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture.
  11. With 25% of the world's populations and only 7% of the world's arable land, the agrofood trade is a crucial sector of the People's Republic of China's economy - projected imports of agrofood in the coming decades will have significant implications within Asia.
    Source: ADB, Regional Trade Opportunities for Agriculture
  12. ADB's 2009 Operational Plan for Sustainable Food Security in Asia and the Pacific puts emphasis on the integration of agricultural productivity, market connectivity, and resilience as necessary to achieve sustainable food security.
    Source: In Focus: Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security