increase in maize production, with farmers increasing the land in cultivation from 20 million
hectares to nearly 37 million over the past four decades. Most of the increase in production
from North America is due to increased yields due to increased use of genetically engineered
high yielding varieties, fertilizer and herbicides, as well as a huge increase in irrigation.
The Asia region is extremely large and diverse, it also shows an increase in area planted as
well as in production, as the adoption of some of the high yielding methods used in North
America have increased. Africa, however, has the same levels of production increase as
Europe, but much of the increase is due to expansion of cropped area instead of yield. Figure
4.5 shows that although Africa is extremely large with 30 million square kilometers in area
compared to 25 million in North America, it could greatly expand both its cropped area and
its use of high yielding crop varieties, fertilizer use and irrigation. Gross food production in
Africa is, in general, far below other regions given the number of people who rely on local
production for their food.
Sustainable intensification, where more food is produced from the same farmland in ways
that do not undermine the capacity to continue to produce food in the future, is a policy
response to the need to increase food (Garnett et al ., 2013). Instead of expanding cropped area
to grow more food, intensifying the use of existing farmland enables increased income for
farmers who own specific plots of land while producing more food for consumption. Inten-
sification through diverse investments, including conventional high-technology methods,
Total maize production per year (tonnes)
FIGURE 4.5 Scatter plot showing the relationship between cropped area and total harvested area
for maize in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America from 1961-2010 (source: data
from FAO statistics database).