Asia has the world's largest area under cereal cultivation and is the largest producer of staple foods (FAO, 1999a). Present crop yields in Asia are comparable to those in Europe and South America. Within Asia, India has the largest area under cereal cultivation. The total production of cereals in China is twice that of India, as a result of higher average productivity (FAO, 1999a). Most land that is suitable for cultivation is already in use; by 2010 per capita availability of land in developing countries of Asia will shrink from the present 0.8 ha to about 0.3 ha. Table 11-4 depicts the growth rate of rice cultivation area in select Asian countries. Current rates of land degradation suggest that a further 1.8 million km2 of farmland could become unproductive in Asia by 2050, adding stress to a system that must ensure food security in the context of a rapidly growing population.
|Table 11-4: Changes in area under rice cultivation in select Asian countries, 1979-1999 (FAO, 1999a).|
|Country||Period||Total Rice Cultivation Area (103 ha)||Change in Rice Cultivation Area (103 ha)||Rate of Change in Rice Cultivation Area (ha yr-1)|
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