Global agricultural land use by major crop type

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  • Cereals: Cereals are generally of the gramineous family and, in the FAO concept, refer to crops harvested for dry grain only. Crops harvested green for forage, silage or grazingare classified as fodder crops. Also excluded are industrial crops, e.g. broom sorghum (Crude organic materials nes) and sweet sorghum when grown for syrup (Sugar crops nes). For international trade classifications, fresh cereals (other than sweet corn), whether or not suitable for use as fresh vegetables, are classified as cereals. Cereals are identified according to their genus. However, when two or more genera are sown and harvested as a mixture they should be classified and reported as "mixed grains". Production data are reported in terms of clean, dry weight of grains (12-14 percent moisture) in the form usually marketed. Rice, however, is reported in terms of paddy. Apart from moisture content and inedible substances such as cellulose, cereal grains contain, along with traces of minerals and vitamins, carbohydrates - mainly starches - (comprising 65-75 percent of their total weight), as well as proteins (6-12 percent) and fat (1-5 percent). The FAO definitions cover 17 primary cereals, of which one - white maize - is a component of maize. Each definition is listed along with its code, botanical name or names, and a short description. Cereal products derive either from the processing of grain through one or more mechanical or chemical operations, or from the processing of flour, meal or starch. Each cereal product is listed after the cereal from which it is derived.

  • Fruit: Fruit Crops consist of fruits and berries that, with few exceptions, are characterized by their sweet taste. Nearly all are permanent crops, mainly from trees, bushes and shrubs, as well as vines and palms. Fruits and berries grow on branches, stalks or the trunks of plants, usually singly, but sometimes grouped in bunches or clusters (e.g. bananas and grapes). Commercial crops are cultivated in plantations, but significant quantities of fruits are also collected from scattered plants that may or may not be cultivated. Although melons and watermelons are generally considered to be fruits, FAO groups them with vegetables because they are temporary crops. Fruit crops are highly perishable. Their shelf life may be extended through the application of chemical substances that inhibit the growth of micro-organisms and through careful control of the surrounding temperature, pressure and humidity once the fruit has been picked. Fruits and berries have a very high water content accounting for some 70- 90 percent of their weight. They contain, in various degrees, minerals, vitamins and organic acids, some of which reside in the peel or skin. Some fruits have a high fibre content and other inedible components, so that wastage is high, e.g. 60 percent for passion fruit and 35-45 percent for pineapples. The waste in temperate zone fruit is lower, generally of the order of 10-15 percent, while berries contain very little waste. The carbohydrate content of fruits varies widely. Protein content is very low, averaging less than 1 percent, or below that in vegetables. Fat content in fruit is negligible, with the notable exception of avocados. Fruit crops are consumed directly as food and are processed into dried fruit, fruit juice, canned fruit, frozen fruit, jam, alcoholic beverages, etc. Fruit crops are not normally grown for animal feed, although significant quantities of diseased and substandard fruits, as well as certain by-products of the fruit processing industry, are fed to animals. Production data for fruit crops should relate to fruits actually harvested. Data on bananas and plantains should relate to the weight of single bananas or banana hands, excluding the weight of the central stalk. FAO lists 36 primary fruit crops.

  • Jute: White jute (Corchorus capsularis); red jute, tossa (C. olitorius) Trade data cover raw or processed jute (but not spun), tow and waste, yarn waste and garnetted stock and may include jute-like fibres. (Unofficial definition)

  • Oilcrops, Oil Equivalent: Oil-Bearing Crops or Oil Crops include both annual (usually called oilseeds) and perennial plants whose seeds, fruits or mesocarp and nuts are valued mainly for the edible or industrial oils that are extracted from them. Dessert and table nuts, although rich in oil, are listed under Nuts (see Chapter .). Annual oilseed plants tha are either harvested green or are used for grazing and for green manure are included with Fodder Crops (see Chapter 11.). Some of the crops included in this chapter are also fibre crops in that both the seeds and the fibres are harvested from the same plant. Such crops include: coconuts, yielding coir from the mesocarp; kapok fruit; seed cotton; linseed; and hempseed. In the case of several other crops, both the pulp of the fruit and the kernels are used for oil. The main crops of this type are oil-palm fruit and tallow tree seeds. Production data are reported in terms of dry products as marketed. Exceptions to this general rule include: groundnuts, which are reported as groundnuts in the shell; coconuts, which are reported on the basis of the weight of the nut including the woody shell, but excluding the fibrous outer husk; and palm oil, which is reported in terms of oil, by weight. Because of the very different nature of the various oil crops, the primary products cannot be aggregated in their natural weight to obtain total oil crops. For this reason, FAO converts the crops to either an oil equivalent or an oilcake equivalent before aggregating them. Only 5-6 percent of the world production of oil crops is used for seed (oilseeds) and animal feed, while about 8 percent is used for food. The remaining 86 percent is processed into oil. The fat content of oil crops varies widely. Fat content ranges from as low as 10-15 percent of the weight of coconuts to over 50 percent of the weight of sesame seeds and palm kernels. Carbohydrates, mainly polysaccharides, range from 15 to 30 percent in the oilseeds, but are generally lower in other oil-bearing crops. The protein content is very high in soybeans, at up to 40 percent, but is much lower in many other oilseeds, at 15-25 percent, and is lower still in some other oil-bearing crops.

  • Pulses: Pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding from one to 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and color within a pod. They are used for both food and feed. The term "pulses" is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain, thereby excluding crops harvested green for food (green peas, green beans, etc.) which are classified as vegetable crops. Also excluded are those crops used mainly for oil extraction (e.g. soybean and groundnuts) and leguminous crops (e.g. seeds of clover and alfalfa) that are used exclusively for sowing purposes. In addition to their food value, pulses also play an important role in cropping systems because of their ability to produce nitrogen and thereby enrich the soil. Pulses contain carbohydrates, mainly starches (55-65 percent of the total weight); proteins, including essential amino acids (18-25 percent, and much higher than cereals); and fat (1 - 4 percent). The remainder consists of water and inedible substances. Production data should be reported in terms of dry clean weight, excluding the weightof the pods. Certain kinds of pulses can be skinned and partially crushed or split toremove the seed-coat, but the resulting products are still considered raw for classification purposes. FAO covers 11 primary pulses. Each is listed below, along with its code, its botanical name, or names, and a short description. Only two processed products are included in the FAO list, namely flour of pulses and bran of pulses.

  • Roots and tubers: Roots and Tubers are plants yielding starchy roots, tubers, rhizomes, corms and stems. They are used mainly for human food (as such or in processed form), for animal feed and for manufacturing starch, alcohol and fermented beverages including beer. The denomination "roots and tubers" excludes crops which are cultivated mainly for feed (mangolds, swedes) or for processing into sugar (sugar beets), and those classified as "roots, bulb and tuberous vegetables" (onions, garlic and beets). It does include starch and the starchy pith and flour obtained from the trunk of the sago palm and the stem of the Abyssinian banana (Musa ensete). Certain root crops, notably bitter cassava, contain toxic substances, particularly in the skins. As a result, certain processes must be undertaken to make the product safe for human consumption. Apart from their high water content (70-80 percent), these crops contain mainly carbohydrates (largely starches that account for 16-24 percent of their total weight) with very little protein and fat (0-2 percent each). Methods of propagating root crops vary. A live potato tuber or seed must be planted but only part of the live yam tuber and a piece of the stalk (not the root) in the case of cassava. Production data of root crops should be reported in terms of clean weight, i.e. free of earth and mud. FAO distinguishes among seven primary root and tuber crops. The code and name of each one appears in the list that follows, along with its botanical name, or names, and a short description. The processed products of roots and tubers are listed together with their parent primary crops.

  • Treenuts: Tree NUTS are dry fruits or kernels enclosed in woody shells or hard husks, which in turn are generally covered by a thick, fleshy/fibrous outer husk that is removed during harvest. Similar products, such as groundnuts, sunflower seeds and melon seeds, although often used for similar purposes, are included with oil-bearing crops.FAO includes in this group only dessert or table nuts. Nuts that are used mainly for flavouring beverages and masticatory and stimulant nuts should be excluded. An exception is made for areca nuts and kola nuts, which FAO considers to be inedible nuts, but which are included with the nut and derived products group to be consistent with international trade classifications. Nuts used mainly for the extraction of oil or butter, (e.g. sheanuts) as well as nuts contained in other fruits (e.g. peaches) are excluded. It should be noted that some countries report certain nut crops (chestnuts, pignolia nuts) with forestry products. Production data relate to the weight of nuts in the shell or husk, but without the outer husk. The weight of the kernel contained in the nut ranges from as low as 30 percent for cashew nuts to as high as 80 percent in the case of chestnuts. The edible portion of nut kernels is, with the major exception of chestnuts, very rich in fat content at between 50 percent and 65 percent. Protein content makes up 15-20 percent and carbohydrate content is between 10 percent and 15 percent. Starch and saccharose are the main components of dry chestnuts, accounting for about 75 percent. FAO covers ten primary nut crops. Each is listed below along with its code, its botanical name, or names, and a short description. NUT PRODUCTS include shelled nuts, whole or split, and further processed products, including roasted nuts, meal/flour, paste, oil, etc. Nut oils are not separately identified in the FAO classification; instead they are included under the heading "oil of vegetable origin nes". The most commonly marketed oils are almon oil and cashew nut oil and its derivative cardol.

  • Vegetables: Vegetables, as classified in this group, are mainly annual plants cultivated as field and garden crops in the open and under glass, and used almost exclusively for food. Vegetables grown principally for animal feed or seed should be excluded. Certain plants, normally classified as cereals and pulses, belong to this group when harvested green, such as green maize, green peas, etc. This grouping differs from international trade classifications for vegetables in that it includes melons and watermelons, which are normally considered to be fruit crops. But, whereas fruit crops are virtually all permanent crops, melons and watermelons are similar to vegetables in that they are temporary crops. Chillies and green peppers are included in this grouping when they are harvested for consumption as vegetables and not processed into spices. FAO production data for green peas and green beans refer to the total weight including pods, although some countries report on a shelled weight basis. The weight of the pods ranges from 40 to 50 percent for peas to up to 70 percent for broad beans. Area data on small vegetable gardens are often omitted in agricultural surveys, although production estimates may be reported. Trade data for fresh vegetables also include chilled vegetables, meaning the temperature of the products has been reduced to around 0øC without the products being frozen. Vegetables contain principally water, accounting for between 70 percent and 95 percent of their weight. They are low in nutrients, but contain minerals and vitamins. FAO covers 27 primary vegetable products. Each is listed along with its code, botanical name, or names, and a short description. PRODUCTS DERIVED FROM VEGETABLES refer to processed products. Apart from a few main products, international trade classifications do not permit a sufficiently detailed classification of processed products according to the primary commodity used in the preparation. A similar situation prevails for frozen vegetables.

  • Area harvested: Data refer to the area from which a crop is gathered. Area harvested, therefore, excludes the area from which, although sown or planted, there was no harvest due to damage, failure, etc. It is usually net for temporary crops and some times gross for permanent crops. Net area differs from gross area insofar as the latter includes uncultivated patches, footpaths, ditches, headlands, shoulders, shelterbelts, etc.If the crop under consideration is harvested more than once during the year as a consequence of successive cropping (i.e. the same crop is sown or planted more than once in the same field during the year), the area is counted as many times as harvested. On the contrary, area harvested will be recorded only once in the case of successive gathering of the crop during the year from the same standing crops. With regard to mixed and associated crops, the area sown relating to each crop should be reported separately. When the mixture refers to particular crops, generally grains, it is recommended to treat the mixture as if it were a single crop; therefore, area sown is recorded only for the crop reported. Source: FAO Statistics Division

Global agricultural land use by major crop type FAO
Total surface area used for production of a given crop.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2023) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
March 14, 2024
Next expected update
March 2025
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

Crop and livestock statistics are recorded for 278 products, covering the following categories:

  1. Crops primary: Cereals, Citrus Fruit, Fibre Crops, Fruit, Oil Crops, Oil Crops and Cakes in Oil Equivalent, Pulses, Roots and Tubers, Sugar Crops, Treenuts and Vegetables. Data are expressed in terms of area harvested, production quantity and yield. Area and production data on cereals relate to crops harvested for dry grain only. Cereal crops harvested for hay or harvested green for food, feed or silage or used for grazing are therefore excluded.

  2. Crops processed: Beer of barley; Cotton lint; Cottonseed; Margarine, short; Molasses; Oil, coconut (copra); Oil, cottonseed; Oil, groundnut; Oil, linseed; Oil, maize; Oil, olive, virgin; Oil, palm; Oil, palm kernel; Oil, rapeseed; Oil, safflower; Oil, sesame; Oil, soybean; Oil, sunflower; Palm kernels; Sugar Raw Centrifugal; Wine.

  3. Live animals: Animals live n.e.s.; Asses; Beehives; Buffaloes; Camelids, other; Camels; Cattle; Chickens; Ducks; Geese and guinea fowls; Goats; Horses; Mules; Pigeons, other birds; Pigs; Rabbits and hares; Rodents, other; Sheep; Turkeys.

  4. Livestock primary: Beeswax; Eggs (various types); Hides buffalo, fresh; Hides, cattle, fresh; Honey, natural; Meat (ass, bird nes, buffalo, camel, cattle, chicken, duck, game, goat, goose and guinea fowl, horse, mule, Meat nes, meat other camelids, Meat other rodents, pig, rabbit, sheep, turkey); Milk (buffalo, camel, cow, goat, sheep); Offals, nes; Silk-worm cocoons, reelable; Skins (goat, sheep); Snails, not sea; Wool, greasy.

  5. Livestock processed: Butter (of milk from sheep, goat, buffalo, cow); Cheese (of milk from goat, buffalo, sheep, cow milk); Cheese of skimmed cow milk; Cream fresh; Ghee (cow and buffalo milk); Lard; Milk (dry buttermilk, skimmed condensed, skimmed cow, skimmed dried, skimmed evaporated, whole condensed, whole dried, whole evaporated); Silk raw; Tallow; Whey (condensed and dry); Yoghurt.

Retrieved on
March 14, 2024
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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Production: Crops and livestock products (2023).

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2023) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Global agricultural land use by major crop type – FAO” [dataset]. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Production: Crops and livestock products” [original data]. Retrieved June 24, 2024 from