Food vs. non-food crops : changes in areas and yields 1992 to 2016

| Type artikkel: Masteravhandling
Changing demand for different agricultural products causes shifts in land use. Until recently, food production was the main agricultural practice for most countries. Today, producing nonfood crops, exclusively is on the rise. This growth, along with increasing per-capita food consumption, will require large increases in crop production. However, agricultural productive land is scarce and increase in demand are modified by the yield increase. This thesis aims to explore links between production of staple crops and demand for non-food crops and discusses if higher yield enhances or reduces total agricultural area.


Henrik Liadal Reinertsen





Following a presentation on the literature is a discussion on theories of land use, introducing von Thünen’s theory of land rent. Considering this theory, I present the debate on the impacts of higher agricultural productivity, known as the Borlaug hypothesis vs. the Jevons paradox. To dig deeper into on our research question, a dataset based on the UN Food and Agricultural Organization database and the World Bank Databank was constructed. Previous information on the distribution and performance of specific crops have only been available through remote sensing. However, a new detailed dataset, where the distribution of crops’ area of usage is taken into consideration, improves the analysis environmental impacts and trends in agricultural land use.

In this thesis, descriptive statistics and regressions analysis indicates two major findings. First, expansion of agricultural area from 1992-2016 has mainly been caused by increase in feed crop area, however staple crops area has also been a large contributor, especially in low/ middleincome countries. Further, feed-, fuel- and non-food crops has experienced the largest relative growth, indicating the direction of trends in agricultural production. Second, higher staple-crop yield reduces crop area, as suggested by the Borlaug hypothesis, while higher feed -and fuel crop yield increases crop area, as suggested by the Jevons paradox.


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