While food is one of the most basic economic goods, only a few countries in the world excel in agricultural production. Most agricultural products require a lot of land area, which only a few largest countries have in abundance.
The four major food-producing countries in the world are China, India, the US, and Brazil. These countries also ranked in the top ten countries in the world for the total geographic land area (source).
China is one of the largest producers, importers, and buyers of food products. While the majority of China’s land is mountainous or too dry for farming, the rich soil of the eastern and southern regions is very productive.
China was a leading producer of wheat and ramie in 2013, producing 6% of the world’s ramie fiber but only 17% of the world’s wheat. China also has the largest workforce in the world, with some sources estimating that its workforce, which specializes in food production, may have some 315 million workers. China, a major agricultural country endowed with rich agricultural resources, has a long history of agriculture and culture of large-scale farming and a large number of rural people.
The Chinese government has always prioritized agricultural development. Since 1978, China has made a step-by-step policy of change and opening up, bringing about the rapid pace of agricultural reform and development. Particularly, in recent years, the government of China has complied with the priorities of agriculture, rural areas, and farmers.
China has successfully produced one-fourth of the world’s grain and fed one-fifth of the world’s population with less than 10% of arable land, which is a major achievement in pursuit of food security and nutrition not only in China but also in the world. Currently, China is the leading country in the world in terms of the production of grain, cotton, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, and fishing products.
Moreover, China has established agricultural exchange partnerships with other major international agricultural and financial institutions and more than 140 countries. Through South-South cooperation, China has been actively assisting other developing countries in supporting local agricultural development.
China excels in the production of the following foods:
- Veggies including potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and more
- Sheep milk
- Fruits including pears, watermelons, plums, grapes, apples, peaches, and more
- Meat including chicken, lamb, goat, pork, and fish
Indian agriculture is no longer sustainable. It has grown unexpectedly through the years and is now ranked as the world’s 2nd-largest meals producer, reaching $367 billion in 2014. However, even India is one of the largest food producers in the world, its farming productivity is much lower than that of the US, China, and Brazil.
India is also one of the leading manufacturers of spices, fish, roosters, farm animals, and vegetable crops. In addition, a majority of Indians are too poor to buy the food they produce. There was splendid progress in this century with the emergence of the Indian economy, but many experts are concerned that the Indian population is growing quicker than its economy (source).
In 2021, India’s population is estimated to be around 1,397,494,569 (source). Moreover, the country has a high birth rate and is expected to overtake China as the world’s largest population in the near future.
According to FAOSTAT, the following are the top 10 most-produced foods in India:
- Rice (paddy)
- Rice (milled equivalent)
- Buffalo meat
- Cow milk
3. The United States of America
No one produces food as effectively as in the US. Although the USA has a smaller workforce than China, the entire US agricultural production is almost as high as China’s (source). It is the world’s largest producer of corn.
Food production is spread across the country, but the largest food-producing states in the USA are Texas, California, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois.
Top-quality exports from the USA are corn, beans, and wheat. Other common exports include almonds, cotton, potatoes, and birds. The most important crop in the USA in terms of total production is corn, most of which is grown in an area known as the Corn Belt. Beans are the second-largest harvest crop in the USA. Like corn, beans are often grown in the Midwestern USA.
Basic food production usually occurs on the farm production side, where farmers, fishermen, and ranchers combine their land, water, and labor resources with the capital, machinery, and inputs from the quarterly supply of raw materials for agricultural production.
The top export destinations of food produced in the US include (source):
Brazilian agriculture has traditionally been one of the foundations of the Brazilian economy. Although Brazil started as the biggest producer of sugarcane, it later became the main producer of espresso, beans, beef, and ethanol in flowers. In fact, about 34 percent of Brazilian land is used as cropland, primarily to produce sugarcane, soybeans, coffee, and corn (source).
Thanks to Brazil’s warm, fruit-friendly climate, the country is also a major producer of papaya, oranges, pineapples, and coconuts (source). In addition to this, Brazil also ranks high in the total production of beef.
According to Statista, the top 10 most produced crops in Brazil (as of 2019) include:
- Coffee (including both Arabica and Robusta varieties)
- Cotton (herbaceous)
- Manioc (also known as yuca or cassava)
Following is a list of some more countries that produce the most food:
Russia has designated about 13% of its land for the production of wheat, sugar beet, and potatoes. The main crops of Russia include rye, barley, and maize. Around 6% of total Russia’s GDP is occupied by the agricultural industry. With this big GDP due to agriculture, Russia also provides 16% of the employment opportunities to the general population in agriculture.
Some interesting facts about agriculture in Russia:
- Wheat is the most produced food crop all around Russia.
- About half of the Russian cultivated land is covered with grain cultivation.
- More than 23 million hectares of land is cultivated in Russia.
- In 2019, Russia produced more than 74 million metric tons of wheat.
According to FAOSTAT, the following are the top 10 most-produced foods in Russia:
- Sugar beet
- Cow milk
- Sunflower seeds
Top Exporters of Food in the World
|Country||Export (in $BN)|
|United States of America||$118.3|
The agricultural sector of a country plays a vital role in its economy. If a country produces more food and excels in exports, its economy will start booming, and there will be more job opportunities for people. Moreover, various factors influence the level of food production in a country. For example, its climate, viability of the country’s overall economy, naturally occurring vegetation, etc.
While the USA is the biggest exporter in the world, food products are not the most exported products of the country.